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New research gives added weight to a pitch digital strategists have been making for campaigns to shorten up the length of their online ads while expanding their creative.

Since YouTube revealed earlier this year that it’s killing off its 30-second unskippable pre-roll ad inventory in 2018, digital strategists have been advocating for clients to adopt a short-and-sweet strategy. But that argument can fall on deaf ears if clients are accustomed to their digital spots following a TV-length format.

Now, in a study of a six-figure digital spend, the Republican media firm FP1 Strategies tested tested 3-, 6-,15- and 30-second Facebook video persuasion ads. The firm’s digital team found a “strong correlation between age and average video watch time.”

It noted in a blog post: “The youngest age group (18-24) had an average completion rate of 35% with an average watch length of 2.4 seconds, while oldest age group (65+) had an average completion rate of 64% with an average watch length of 5.2 seconds.”

Chris Georgia, a partner at the shop, said this age-to-viewership finding had to do with the viewer’s screen. Older viewers were more likely viewing the spot on a desktop, tablet or laptop as opposed to a smartphone. “A lot of that is the device they’re consuming it on,” he told C&E. “The older you were, the longer you were going to watch the video.”

The findings appear to be another nail in the coffin of the 30-second spot online. To wit, Georgia said one of the findings was that viewers would quickly exit a 30-second skippable ad, while they would consume some portion of a 15-second spot. They found users watched 4.3 seconds of the shorter spot compared with 3.6 seconds for the half-minute version. “A short ad is critical for a younger audience,” he said.

But shorter creative isn’t just about frontloading a message. Georgia believes these mini spots should contain a single message that’s included in up to a half dozen, 6-second spots during a campaign. 

Whatever the age demographic a campaign is targeting, Georgia added, “a shorter ad is better across all of them.”