4 Ways to Make Six-Second YouTube Bumper Ads Work for You

By amanda Disilvestro on August 30, 2017

Companies focus on making their brand recognizable, intriguing, and a notch above their competitors with advertisements telling a story. YouTube’s Bumper Ads are no different, but instead of 15- or 30-second ads, it’s challenging companies to do it in six. Six seconds to tell a story. Six seconds to make an impression. Six seconds to recognize a brand.

It’s definitely possible, as these ads prove, but what is the hidden formula for success? How do you show a product and its value in just six seconds? It doesn’t involve just cutting down a 30-second ad and making it fit—it involves looking at the whole process backward.

  1. Simplicity is Key

It would be easy to muddle a message in six seconds by attempting to focus on too many objectives at once. A bumper ad needs one focal point, one message to really benefit the audience. In a 30-second spot, advertisers have time to build a story, show product placement, and present an offer or an objective for the audience. In six seconds, an advertiser is supposed to do the same thing? No, they are not.

Six-second bumper ads are more useful for brand recognition, implementing intrigue, leaving the audience wanting more and yes, plugging a product, but not all at once. The key is to narrow down your objective first, whether it’s a jingle or joke or multiple six-second ads to create a storyline, and then create around that specific objective.

Boosting brand recall and awareness is an important goal many companies are using bumper ads for. In fact, Cato Institute used bumper ads for just that and increased brand recall by +357 percent and brand awareness by +125 percent, according to an article from Think with Google. The Cato Institute and Libertarianism.org wanted to create more awareness around libertarianism and Libertarianism.org. YouTube ads were a great fit for this since the digital content site focuses on specialized ideas and political commentary.

The result was positive, using well-known libertarian figures to present ideas with some as more playful memes with taglines. They used different versions of the six-second ad to determine which calls to action worked and which didn’t, and also used marketing tools such as remarketing and audience targeting for those who had already watched their videos or had watch similar videos.

The results? Other than the +357 percent brand recall increase and +125 percent brand awareness increase, Libertarianism.org saw a 14 percent increase in website traffic from the six-second bumper ads campaign. Below is that ad:

  1. Budget Your Time Wisely

To state the obvious, six seconds is not a lot of time. With that said, you need to budget that time wisely for how you will use it to send your message. Remember your audience and remember that they’ve clicked on a YouTube video to watch and may need a moment to realize your ad is not their video. Many successful bumper ads began with a unique image or single subject and expound on that. Again, simplicity is important.

A successful ad needs to express a clear and well-thought call to action or message. This isn’t something you can just tack onto the end of the ad—there’s barely a beginning, middle and end to a six-second ad! You’ll need a couple seconds to let this sink in, which again goes back to simplicity. Keep your goal simple, your message simple and budget your time simply.

Although you have a short amount of time to work with, the results are real and positive. Think with Google found from testing 300 bumper ads, 9 out 10 drove significant ad recall. The short time also works wonderfully as a component of a larger ad campaign.

Most of us have probably seen the full-length commercial of the above bumper add – the woman in this Secret Deodorant stress test ad using the hand dryer in a bathroom to dry her sweaty pits pretends to be doing yoga (Namaste!) – when another bathroom user walks in. Secret took the same idea and cut it down to six-seconds with nothing but this view, a few words on the screen and the sound of the blowing dryer. Ad recognition right away!

  1. Look Past Your 30-Second Spots

So, yes, as stated above, creating bumper ads from your 30-second spots does work and can be very beneficial to your goals, but it’s not the only way to get things done. Many times a 30-second commercial has too many components working at once. It works for your longer time limit, but under extreme time constraints it doesn’t fit the bill.

It all depends on your goal. If your goal is brand recognition, then working with similar ideas, images and perspectives will work here. If your goal is increasing website traffic, it may be beneficial to only use a tagline or logo similar to your longer-form ads and to reinvent for this campaign. No matter the goal, your 30-second ads need to be reinvented to fit the new form. And since bumper ads are unable to be skipped, it’s important to make it count since your audience has to watch it to get to their desired media.

  1. Allow the Audience to Fill in the Blanks

This might seem a little weird at first, as an ad is supposed to provide the information, but the society we live in has already exposed your audience, no matter whom they are, to products, needs, emotions. Use that. Images, music and words can create powerful emotions, no matter the length of exposure. Someone somewhere will have an emotional reaction to an image of an abused puppy or a person being laid off or a surprise birthday party. Use your audience to fill in the emotion and connect with the ad.

Storytelling is all about connecting on some level with your audience, so it’s only natural that even a six-second ad can tell a story and connect on some level with your audience. And, if we’re being honest, in today’s society it’s only natural that ads bend and adhere to any platform, length or other restriction. Advertisers have a short time frame to catch their audience attention to begin with, which is what makes bumper ads so relevant.

Have you seen a bumper ad that caught your eye? What are your thoughts on using bumper ads for your business? Let us know in the comment section below.

About The Author

amanda Disilvestro /