Six, Lies, and TV Grapes

Abraham Lincoln would love Fox + AMC’s six second TV spot format. Lincoln said, “if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. “Shortening of TV spots, according to Nielsen, has been happening since 2014:
15 Sec TV Ad Mix

  • 2014 = 29%
  • 2015 = 30%
  • 2016 = 34%
  • 2017 = 36%

In 2016, Twitter pioneered six second video spots with Facebook adopting the six second format in 2017, suggesting that in the cross-screen world, 15’s and 30’s don’t fit with our fast, Smartphone thumbswipes.

Creatives and the TV ad industry cried travesty upon Fox’s adoption of the six second spot in linear TV, but the times they are a changing.

Consumers have shorter attention spans:

  • Consuming headlines online by scanning them
  • Tuning out linear TV commercials as head & hands fall to their Smartphones

Today, advertising by committee takes over where stakeholders want to jam every possible feature/benefit into a TV spot versus a single, powerful, unique selling proposition of a brand.

As Abraham Lincoln knows, writing a shorter spot takes longer. Longer to analyze what your unique selling proposition really is, and doing it in six seconds.

Fox is selling those six second spots, breaking the same ground when MTV launched the 15 second spot in 1985. Even Microsoft, with a hefty TV budget, bought six second spots on AMC.

Shorter spot length will not only add to cross-screen versatility between Facebook, YouTube, and linear TV, it will actually force creatives (and those who approve TV creative) to distill a clearer brand message.

Branding will skew towards six second spots. Direct Response will play in the longer formats of 30, 60, 120 seconds (as well as 28 minutes).

Lies: GRP’s and Ratings
A high ranking executive at one of the big four accounting firms privately revealed that disparity between actual set top box data viewing and Nielsen GRP’s was not off by acceptable levels, but by large magnitudes.

This executive called it “the lie in TV that everyone has accepted.”

During TV Week in New York, a veteran ABC TV sales rep said, “I hate GRP’s.” 20 years of their ad sales confirmed the GRP being a flawed metric.

Perhaps the GRP is a flawed metric:

  1. For data-centric reasons. Moving towards a much larger ratings sample given that we no longer have most of America watching three networks, but 2/3 of America watching many little networks in many small numbers.
  2. For creative reasons. According to Chief Research Officer David Poltrack at CBS Television 70% of the impact from TV advertising is due to creative. If your creative is 4x as effective, then you can get the same result with 1/4 of your GRP’s.

Do GRP’s matter?

When execs from big accounting firms and ABC say they hate GRP’s, something’s going to shift.

It will likely be a shift to TV attribution, and measurement of creative down to the penny.

TV’s Grapes: HH Addressable

TV is in an amazing renaissance now.

TV has lagged behind digital in reporting metrics, even though the mountain of digital metrics are unfortunately: last-click, siloed, not viewability corrected, and not fraud corrected.

TV’s catching up to digital with HH addressable TV.

In fact, HH addressable TV is at least 6% cheaper than programmatic display.

Imagine TV retargeting on a 46 inch TV: and now the same math makes HH level TV retargeting which is 41% cheaper than programmatic display.


Fraud-free; HH level TV retargeting = 41% cheaper than programmatic display.

Water to Wine

TV isn’t quite turning water into wine…but the new grapes are ready to gather.