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Cutting Your Commercials to 15, 30 and 60-Second Spots

By lunamik / August 4, 2016

If you watch TV, you watch ads. It’s something that’s inescapable. But depending on how your career is orientated and what your passions are, seeing ads all the time may not be such a bad thing. For those ad enthusiasts, there’s a lot to learn from watching ads – who knew? Here, we’re going to specifically focus on the duration of ads, why are they certain lengths and what dictates this? Well, Lunamik’s here to tell you all of the above.

There’s three typical ad lengths shown in national broadcasting stations: 15-second, 30-second and 60-second spot. Deciding how long your commercial should be is difficult. Every market and product are different which makes it a challenge. Some companies choose to produce three different commercial lengths depending on their targeted market – known as a campaign. For national television, they may decide the 60-second spot, 30-second spot for local tv and only 15-seconds for internet ads.

Lately, short commercials have been the trend. Advertisers know that they will save money if they prefer the 15-second slot over the 30-seconds slot. With the money they can save, they decide to run the commercials frequently over a longer period. It was exactly the reason why the 15-second spot was created according to New York Times in the late 1980s.

Statistics show that by mid-2002, the 15-second commercials comprise 36% of all the commercials in the major broadcasting networks. Overall you will have a cheaper slot and cost of production. With the popularity of internet ads, advertisers realise that 15-second spot does not have much difference compared to the 30-second spot. Even when it comes to sharing commercials, the shorter ads are being shared by more than 37% compared to other lengths.

If 15-second slots are the favoured commercial lengths, what would be the purpose of creating 30-second and 60-second commercials? Other companies might still prefer the 60-second commercials. Besides, the final run time of an advertisement is still up to the post editing of the commercial. So with all the money that goes into the production itself, it’s no surprise that even the smartest and largest advertising agencies encounter struggles in cutting their commercials.

60-second commercials

If you want a commercial with a storytelling element, then a longer commercial length is suggested. At this length, a brand or company can include a story to advertise their products. The challenge for a longer commercial is to be able to catch the attention of the viewers and keep them interested. Since of its length, some people may feel that this is too long. Studies show that most audiences lose their attention at around 45-seconds. Another purpose of 60-second videos is to introduce a new ad campaign. Instead of a long commercial, others choose the 15-second slot which are repeated four times to cover the 60-second spot.

30-second commercials

Humorous ad campaigns usually follow the 30-second rule. The recall of a 30-second commercial is 80% greater compared to the 60-second slot. With a good punchline, a 30-second video can still be memorable than its 15-second counterpart. The problem you will encounter will be the editing part. It will be a challenge to keep the commercial interesting despite having to cut 30-seconds from the original 60-seconds.

15-second commercials

For the biggest return of money from commercials, the 15-second spot is encouraged. As long as you have a very creative and catchy commercial, your company can reap the benefits of a short commercial. Most 15-second ads are straight to the point. They focus on the product information and marketing. Since the length is very short, companies prefer to repeat the commercials and air them frequently. It can also be reused as a mobile or online advertisement.

Trimming commercials
60-second to 30-second spots

If you are working with a professional and talented commercial director, then all the scenes in your 60-second commercial will be timed. Every important detail of the commercial is set at a specific time. If you realise that your 60 second does not have this, then the edit will be a challenge. Otherwise, you can trim the commercial wherever you can while retaining the important parts of the commercial. You can also start editing the audio and work your way from there. Just make sure the audio is still of good quality after the trim.

30-second to 15-second spots

Editing the 60-second to 30-second is already a huge challenge. So trimming down a 30-second to 15-second commercial is more than tough. The struggle will be in keeping the important parts of the video and retaining the gist of the message. You have to which part is the most needed and which part you can do without. If you have a prior voice audio, you have to be prepared to re-record everything again. Most likely the 30-second sound would not fit into your new trimmed 15-second commercial. After successfully editing the ad, you should compress your commercial into a readable format suitable even for web streaming.

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