“The TV advertisement industry, with poor quality assurance churns out inconsistent,
ineffective ads that add cost to the organization. The ad industry, unlike the other
industries has insufficient or no user testing and receives very little objective feedback.
Measuring effectiveness through indicators and relating it to the length of ads is a
challenge in such cases. Different attributes of communication would need different styles
and length of ads. This research attempts to find out the effectiveness of 15 seconds and
30 second ads under different circumstances. A survey was conducted which,
cumulatively, gave a picture of the factors that affect likeability, recall and suitability of
ads of different duration for different circumstances. Ad storyline and emotional appeal
were perceived to be most important factors in ads. Also the suitability of ad length
seemed to vary for different situations and themes that the ad uses. The insights from this
research would help business managers take informed decisions and optimize ad
duration, thereby saving costs and enhancing ad effectiveness”
What if you paid for a 15 second ad and had the benefits of a 30 second ad? What if you
knew all the right ingredients which can make it work?
Television advertising is a major cost component of the advertising budget for mass
marketed consumer product firms. Consequently, of great concern is the effectiveness of
their advertising dollars or rupees in Indian context!
Strangely, even after years of testing advertising we cannot tell by merely viewing a
commercial whether it is any good. Sure, people have opinions, but they are almost not
very accurate and time of viewing and context driven. A prominent barrier to better
advertising is the belief that sales performance will tell if the advertising is working.
Unless the sales response to the advertising is immediate and overwhelming, it is almost
impossible to use sales data to judge the effectiveness of the advertising.
As said by Jerry W. Thomas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arlington (Texas-
based Decision Analyst Inc.), in his paper on advertisements, “Advertising has the power
to persuade, the power to influence the mind and shape destiny. It has the power to
change markets and improve profit margins. Advertising has short-term power
(conveying new information, building awareness, enhancing credibility, etc.) and long-
term power (conveying brand image, attaching emotional values to the brand, building
positive reputation, etc.). The great power of advertising is seldom achieved in practice,
but we can’t give up.”
This thesis is done with respect to only 15 and 30 sec spots. It does not segregate the ad
lengths based on different products. But at the same time the thesis will show a marketer
the direction in which to go ahead for recovering the maximum benefit out of his TVC
budget. He can choose the length of the ad depending upon the objectives of the
The thesis aims at studying the effectiveness of 15 second and 30 second TVCs. The
length of the TVC has a lot of impact on recall and likeability. There are some factors
like emotional appeal of an ads storyboard, the jungle used, celebrity in the TVC and
many other factors which when put to effective use, even a 15 second TVC can have a
better impact on the target audience, thus saving huge sums of money for the marketer, as
well as creating a positive long lasting brand image.
The thesis progressed in three stages. First stage was the exploratory research which
included the secondary data analysis, reading online research papers and articles on
advertisements and effectiveness of the same. This stage also included conducting a focus
group to have a better idea before designing a questionnaire.
The second stage included designing the final questionnaire and administering the same.
The survey for this thesis was conducted online, and the advertisements needed along
with the questions were also sent to the respondents. Sample size was 100. Most of the
questions had an option in front of the respondent to mark, but also there were a few
questions like mentioning reasons for likeability, which had open ended answers.
The third and the final stage of the survey was the analysis of the results and interpreting
the important findings.
The parameters that were measured using the questionnaire included last ad recall, factors
that lead to dislike of an ad, effect of ad length in communicating various factors like
emotional appeal, humor, kids/pets etc, and important factors in creating ads. The results
are summarized as below.
The most prominent ads in the question about “last ad you remember”
Ad Reason for remembering
Airtel The reason are the ad touches your emotional chord, it shows the
romance, good selection of celebrities and great music (jingle)
The reason for this ad is creativity used in the ads, humor appeal and
The reason for this ad is nice story line and great music
Surf excel (daag
The reason for this ad is kids and emotional appeal
Pepsi (youngistan) The reason for this ad is freshness and Celebrity used(Ranbir,
Emotional appeal ranked the most (30%). Catchy jingles and celebrity came next at 16%
each. Tagline and mystery factor figures the least important reason for remembering the
ad. The most prominent ads in the question about “most favorite ad”
Nirma Jingle and its simplicity
Airtel Touches your emotional chord, it shows the romance, good selection
of celebrities and great music(jingle)
Vodafone Creativity used in the ads, humor appeal and cartoon characters
Fevicol Creativity and humor appeal
Kids and emotional appeal
Respondents were asked to choose factors that result in dislike of an ad. The most
important reason that was perceived was too much use of verbose and information clutter
(29%). Inappropriate humor stood second with 26% feeling that it makes them dislike an
ad. 12% disliked ads that show Indian culture in poor light.
To find out effectiveness among 15 second and 30 second ads, a question was framed that
had an ad of each length but the length was not revealed to the target respondent. It was
disguised as a question that puts forward factors and asks them to choose the ad that they
feel is effective in communicating the feature.
Factor Longer ad shown Shorter ad shown Result
Emotional appeal Havells Cables (
Wires that don’t
ICICI Prudential ( a
couple in a train
with a crying baby
64% liked longer
36% liked Shorter
Humor Bingo mad angles ZooZoo cricket
30% liked longer
70% liked shorter
Kids/Pets Surf excel (daag
Hutch ad(pug) 48% liked longer
52% liked shorter
Informative content KFC crushers Lays ad(Saif ali
53% liked longer
47% liked shorter
Respondents were asked to choose which helps relate an ad to the product/brand it
Showing the utility of the product in the ad 54%
Use of brand logo/symbol at the end of the storyline 31%
Use of the brand name in the advertisement is sufficient 15%
Only a minority (15%) felt that it’s sufficient to have the brand name in the ad. But a
majority (54%) felt that it’s required to show the utility of the product in the ad to better
relate the ad to the product that it wishes to promote.
To measure suitability of 15 second and 30 second ads in different circumstances, the
respondents were asked to choose shorter or longer ads under different circumstances.
Circumstance Longer ad suitable Shorter ad suitable
New brand launched in market 67% 33%
New product of existing brand is
For offers and promotions 23% 77%
Maintaining awareness of existing
Thesis also shows that for the majority, i.e. 65% of the target audience, it easier to
remember a 15 second TV Commercial shown twice rather than a 30 second TV
Commercial shown once.
Seven most important aspects of any advertisement
0 100 200 300 400 500 600
Storyline of the ad
Use of humor
Product information in the ad
Use of animation/mascots
Storyline of the ad came out to be the most important factor in any advertisement, no
matter who the celebrity is. Use of humor and emotional appeal were very close factors
and had almost equal importance. Rank 4 was given to Product Information which was of
much lesser effectiveness as compared to the above 3 factors. Then come jingles,
celebrity endorsements and use of animation/mascots for the last 3 ranks.
As discussed in the introduction, the length of the TVCs matter a lot for the target
audience with respect to a few major factors. These factors help them in recall, in
creating brand preferences as a result of the likeability of the ad. Even the secondary
research shows that recall of 15 sec spots is 75% of the 30 second spots. The research we
conducted shows that even the target audience feels that watching a shorter ad twice
makes it easier for them to remember it rather seeing a longer ad once.
The researches in the past have shown that a memory stores an ad as a combination of 4
An ad gets stored in a viewer’s memory as per the above factors. Even if one of these is
weak, the ad will not have a very strong impact on the audience.
A major finding in the thesis shows that these 4 factors were ranked as most important.
Also a marketer should know which are the factors which are least important to his
audience, so that he can always validate in case he is over emphasizing or over spending
on any one of them. The less prominent factors came out to be jingles, celebrities and use
of animations/ mascots. Now the exceptions to this result would be Airtel, and zoozoo
Vodafone ad. But at the same time, we should look at the fact that these both ads also
made use of emotional appeal and humor respectively, which are very important for the
audience. So if the action in the ad i.e. the storyboard and the emotional appeal is there,
it’s unlikely that the ad will fail to create an impact.
A 30 second TVC has 4 peak points and 15 second has only 3. As brand has to be a factor
in the ad, one of the above 4 has to be missed out in 15 second ad. So thesis shows clearly
that the factor left out should not be emotion. Knowledge or action can be left out based
on the type of the product though.
The present results of the thesis show in clear light that the most important factors of the
bases for any good TVC are storyboard, use of humor and the emotional appeal. These if
put to use effectively, can create a good recall value and the likeability of the ad, even in
a frame of 15 seconds.
These findings are very important for any marketer to know the absolute essentials for
any TVC to register itself positively in the minds of its target audience. Taking a look at
these, a marketer can always have a cost benefit ratio, as to, should he design a 30 second
TVC or given his product launch time, and objective of TVC, 15 second advertisement
will suffice. This thesis can be used by companies to help them make important decisions
regarding the most effective way to use the TVC spot time.
Also in case of most favorite ad, Nirma was rated as the most favorite by many. Though
nostalgia may be a possible factor in making it a memorable one, the ad was well known
for its simplicity and a very catchy jingle. Kids are a major factor as they attract attention
and aid in recall too.
What puts off most of the viewers in ads is information clutter and inappropriate use of
humor. With the TV ad space getting crowded day by day and consumers being
bombarded with ads, it’s imperative that companies keep an optimal amount of
information and ad duration. Many a times what looks and seems to be funny inside a
boardroom may actually be crossing a thin line between being vulgarity or mockery, and
humor. In a culturally diverse and sensitive nation like ours, we can ill afford to offend
sentiments of some people. This may also backfire and generate bad publicity for the
brand. For eg, there was an ad of Bingo mad angles that shows testing the pregnancy of a
lady by offering her ‘achar’ flavored chips. This could be unacceptable and perhaps
disgusting for few of us.
When it comes to effectiveness of 15 and 30 second ads, there was an observable tilt
towards shorter ads where humor is the major factor. This could be attributed to liking for
a crisp humorous ad rather than a longer one. But while emotional appeal comes into
picture, the majority prefers a longer one that builds a storyline and shows the emotions
in a nice manner. The longer ads score well in this factor. There was no significant
difference between preference of long or short ads for showing kids/pets and informative
content. Informative ads have to decide whether they go for a longer information filled ad
sprinkled with some humor or emotional appeal or a shorter one only with information.
By maintaining a fair mixture of these, they can bring effective ads to the table.
It’s seen that most people felt that showing the product utility in the ad is an effective
way to relate the ad to the product. For e.g. they would not like a soap ad where the ad
doesn’t even show a actor using the soap. But in an era where teaser ads are the norm,
this observation comes as a surprise. Teaser ads may work for new products or brands but
the traditional view still holds sway in minds of the majority.
Also the thesis results agree with secondary data and popular perception that launch of
new brands or products generally use longer informative ads. Audience also feel that
shorter ads are sufficient like when new promotions come in the market, or when the
company only wants to maintain awareness regarding the existing products.
A strong storyline with an emotional appeal and humor would strike a chord with the
intended consumers because the thesis suggests that they are the most important features
in any ad. Companies may infer that instead of spending on tangible factors like
animation and celebrities to endorse a product, its better to look at the intangible factors
more as they, as per the study, hold more sway in consumer minds. This may again be a
surprise for many of us who believe that flashy animation and celebrities could turn the
table around for products. This is cost effective too. Just that the ad makers need some
creative bent of mind to make this possible.
Ad recall is an important factor in the buying process of an individual. Companies strive
really hard to make the ad recorded forever in the hearts and minds of the consumers. The
thesis suggests that majority felt its easier to remember a shorter ad shown twice as
opposed to a long ad shown once. This reinforces the popular belief that a human mind
can be conditioned and such ads serve the purpose.
Quantitative inferences are now available to draw conclusions about the topic as a result
of this research. We have also got insights about topics that were hitherto unanswered by
secondary data. The overall impression made out of this thesis is that ads are effective
when used in the right circumstances, with a good storyline, with the right driver
(emotional, humor etc), repeatedly shown in short bursts showing product utility in the
The thesis, given the current competition for ad recall, efficiency and effectiveness is
significant as it gives insights into relationships between ad durations and effectiveness.
Mind share is the most treasured motive of any marketing manager and this research
would aid in achieving it.
TV Advertisements, in shorter or longer duration, duly used in appropriate circumstances,
play a major role in communication, effectiveness and ad recall. As per the thesis, shorter
ads may be used in offers and promotions and longer ones in new launches. Also ads
must avoid information clutter and inappropriate humor. Such practices would overcome
the handicap of not having proper quality assurance, testing and objective feedback. Also
this would optimize costs and enhance recall. Conditioning of the consumers’ minds with
repeated smaller ads would be more effective than doing so with a longer one.
What this study would imply for managers is that it would let them revisit their existing
ad strategies and work on effective ones in line with the findings.
A balanced approach with use of a good storyline with humor and emotional appeal
coupled with an optimum duration would extract the most mileage out of the ad
investment made. With lack of other strong indicators for ad effectiveness, it’s advisable
for companies to do these basics right while making the ad.
1. 15 second marketing – Charlie cook – Marketing for success – 2008
2. 15 Second Pre-Roll Video Ads Will Become The Standard - Dan Rayburn –
3. ADVERTISING EFFECTIVENESS, By Jerry W. Thomas
4. Context effects on memory for television advertisements- Claire Norris-
university of Leicester
5. The effectiveness and targeting of TV advertising – Ron Shachar – tel aviv
6. Heating Up the 15- vs. 30-second Online Spot Debate – OPA panel
7. Fame in just 15 seconds: TV advertising study - Kate Newstead and Jenni
Romaniuk from the Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science
8. TELEVISION VIEWERS' ATTITUDES AND RECALL OF 15 SECOND
VERSUS 30 SECOND COMMERCIALS - Mid-Atlantic Journal of Business |
April 1, 1989| Gould, James S
9. Why TV spotlength matters – Charles young – WARC.com
Questionnaire for primary research Questionnaire thesis