Video Marketing

An Introduction to 6-Second Video Ads

Megan O'Neill


According to an Adweek study last year, marketers say shorter format videos make for the most effective digital ads. 81 percent of respondents found 6-second pre-roll ads effective.


Over the past few years, these short, snackable videos have been growing in popularity. In this article, we’ll take a look at some background, examples, and best practices for getting started with 6-second video ads.

Note: This article is about 6-second videos created and promoted as paid advertisements. Facebook recently started pushing for longer organic videos. You can read more about that here.

Where did 6-second video ads come from?

Six seconds may seem short for an ad. And that’s probably because, thanks to the television ad format, we’ve all grown pretty accustomed to 30-second ads. And with the advent of online video and skippable ad formats, brands have stretched ads into even longer territory.

But did you know that the first television ad to ever air was less than 10 seconds long? This ad for Bulova watches aired on July 1, 1941, and all it consisted of was a simple image and voice-over.

In the last few years, as attention spans have grown shorter and shorter, brands are finding that this snappy format is a great way to engage. Capturing attention with a surprising, delightfully short clip can get your message across before viewers have time to skip or tune your video out.

In 2016, YouTube introduced the 6-second bumper ad. And Facebook has touted this format as well. A test with Champs on Facebook last year found that 6-second ads performed better than 30-second ads to the tune of +11% ad recall, +12% return on ad spend, and +271% completion rate.

Best practices for 6-second video ads

Creating a 6-second video ad may seem daunting. But it’s definitely possible to tell a story and capture attention in a short span of time! In this section, we’ll talk about some best practices for creating effective 6-second videos to promote your business.

Pair 6-second ads with longer ads

If six seconds isn’t enough time to introduce strangers to your brand, you can pair a 6-second ad with a longer ad. Post a longer video that dives into more detail about your business. Then, follow up with a short 6-second remarketing ad that targets the people that engaged with your longer video.

Here’s an example of a longer ad. It’s one of our customizable video templates, designed for TrueView for action, which you can read more about here. The video provides a thorough introduction to SmartStop Self Storage, in just under 30 seconds.

And here’s the 6-second bumper ad that serves as a follow-up to the previous video. The bumper ad reminds viewers of SmartStop Self Storage’s value prop and encourages them to learn more.

You can also reverse this tip and use a short ad to tease a longer one. That way, when you retarget viewers with your longer ad, they’ll think, “Oh! I’ve heard about this!” and be more likely to stick around and watch. Here’s an example of this type of teaser, shared by KFC.

Don’t try to do too much

You can only fit so much into six seconds. Which is why it’s important to think strategically about what you’ll include in your 6-second ad. And, like we mentioned in our first tip, remember that your ad doesn’t have to stand on its own. These short ads are often most effective when paired with longer videos or when targeted at individuals that are already searching for your brand or product.

Make it eye catching

Pull viewers in with an eye-catching photo or video clip, right up front. You want to avert the attention away from the countdown clock if it’s a pre-roll ad, or to entice those that are scrolling through their news feeds to stop and see what your video is all about. Who wouldn’t have a hankering for chocolate after seeing this ad?

Keep your audience’s desires in mind

Think about your audience. If you’re using intent-based audience targeting, showing your video ad to people that are searching for specific topics, you know what your audience is looking for. Hook them by showing them something that you know they want. Then, close with a quick line that shows that your business is the answer. Here's an example, created to target people that have been searching for beach real estate.

Include a clear call to action (CTA)

Let viewers know what action you want them to take next. Include a strong CTA in your video, or make sure that the CTA listed in the ad along with your video ties back to the video’s message. Do you want people to learn more? Buy now? Visit your website?

Plan for sound off in the newsfeed

On YouTube, viewers are likely listening to your video. But if you’re planning to share your 6-second ad on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter then the majority of viewers will likely be silent listeners. That’s why it’s important to create a video that makes sense with no sound if you’re planning to share it to the news feed. Check out our blog post on creating silent videos for tips.

Have you created any 6-second video ads? We’d love to see them! Share your videos with us in our private Facebook group, the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community.