A view from Steve Ackerman

Never mind the length of the ad, feel the quality

In last week's Campaign, Bruno Bertelli made some interesting points about why the length of a TV ad doesn't really matter but...

While we agree entirely that good ideas should be able to breathe and take form beyond the traditional restrictions of the 30-second spot, the fact remains that audiences are actively trying to avoid these spots.

TV ads have been skippable for years, while the rise of adblockers that prevent videos being shown online has been well documented.

Bertelli’s words seem to show why advertising is carting itself off to hell in a handcart – its blinkered obsession with traditional ad campaigns that that they think will "disrupt" shows no sign of abating despite the body of evidence that indicates they will just be ignored.

It’s no longer possible to distract audiences from watching a piece of entertainment with an ad – brands need to be a piece of entertainment in their own right. So Bertelli’s thinking about the length of the scripts doesn’t really matter – as someone once said, never mind the length feel the quality.

Contemporary communications demands that the creative execution that catches the attention and engages audiences is not necessarily a script at all.

Snapchat and Vine have both offered powerful platforms for brands to almost spontaneously create entertaining visual content without the need for a script to go through the lengthy and time-consuming sign-off process that traditional ad agencies still use.

It might come as news to some sectors of the industry, but the days of 400 TVR campaigns supported by outdoor have long gone.

Instead they have been replaced by an "always on" approach where one film (however beautifully crafted and planned) can no longer be the nub of campaign – in fact it’s just a small part of a content approach that’s more similar to that of a publishing company or a broadcaster than a traditional advertising campaign.

In this fast moving and agile world, brands need instigate and to respond to conversations of audiences rather than just try and interrupt them (no matter how long the TV script is).

So while Bertelli makes a valid point, they need to be seen in a wider context. The TV spot might not be dead but it’s only one very small part of a content plan – the industry’s obsession with its length is a chimera.

The debate is much wider than creating the perfect spot aimed at consumers who may or may not see it – it’s about creating the perfect conversation with them.

Steve Ackerman is managing director at Somethin' Else