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Commercials Shrink to Fit Attention Span

With the invention of commercial-skipping digital video recorders (DVRs) and web enabled cell phones and laptops that instantly can stream live video, it’s no surprise viewers have turned their attention away from traditional commercial advertising. There are many ways to watch television programming without viewing a single commercial. The change in how viewers get their entertainment has led many to think traditional commercial advertising is dead.old-spice commercials shrink


As advertising budgets shrink and society’s attention span becomes smaller, advertisers have been forced to make adaptions to television commercials to keep it alive. Rather than fight for more airtime, they are fighting for viewer’s attention.

As attention spans grow shorter, so do television commercials. A 15 second ad is more common today than a 30 or 60 second spot was a few decades ago. For consumers, shorter commercials mean more commercials during a commercial break. A Northwestern University School of Journalism study showed shorter 15 second ads hold a consumer’s attention more than ads 30 seconds or longer.

Short commercial ads are also saving advertisers money. With 15 second ads, the advertiser can relay the same message to consumers at half the cost. This means advertisers can afford to purchase more ad time and have their commercials run as often as two to four times during one television program, totaling the same amount of time as one commercial at regular length. Procter and Gamble has followed this 15 second rule with their Old Spice commercials.. Their 15 second Old Spice commercials are able to send a full message to consumers while also holding on to attention spans with humor and creative presentation. The 30 second ad killed the full minute commercial ad decades ago. As the 15 second ad becomes increasingly more common, will it gradually change the way commercial advertisements are presented? Will we begin to see even shorter ads on television and perhaps, someday, none at all?

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