Harness the Power of a Five-Second Ad

    • 1373 posts
    November 5, 2021 12:56 AM PDT

    Rod Schwartz recently wrote a blog post, Harness the Power of a Five-Second Ad.


    He notes, "There are several advantages to shorter ads:


    1) They force the writer to craft a clear, concise message. There’s no room for 'fat' in a five-second ad.


    2) It’s much easier for a listener to comprehend, retain, and recall a short message in its entirety. It’s in-and-done before the listener can even react to it! (Stick around and I’ll share with you a powerful presentation technique for demonstrating this effectively to a prospect.)


    3) Greater frequency can be achieved at lower cost. Because five-second ads cost less than 30’s or 60’s, the advertiser’s budget buys him greater frequency—more repetition of his message."


    Click here to read the entire article.


    Have you written and run 5-second ads on your station? Please tell us about it!

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at November 5, 2021 12:57 AM PDT
    • 118 posts
    November 5, 2021 5:52 AM PDT

    I almost had to look to make sure I was not reading my words. No, I'm not suggesting anything other than there are two minds that think alike. The 5 second ad is wonderful.

    I have sold 5 and 10 second spots for years (where I was allowed) and even pitched 8 second underwriting spots to a non-commercial station. There are so many uses and opportunities to squeeze more dollars for a bigger slice on the advertising pie. I didn't start in radio until 1978 and sales until 1987, so far fewer years than the author.

    I have used 5 second units to 'pre-sell' just as stations pre-sell programming features to listeners. "It's the biggest sale of the year at Thomas Chevrolet. Details this hour" or "Be at Morris Furniture for their half price storewide sale starting at 8 am tomorrow". They work for grocery stores and more (Thick cut T-Bone steaks $4.99 a pound today at John's Grocery) and I've use them for heating and air companies (It's cold this morning. How'd the heater work? Call Mike's Heat & Air to stay warm and toasty.).

    Where I have used 5 second spots is at stations that are live or voice tracked. Many times the spots were outside spot breaks. Outside spot breaks I could command more per commercial. In fact, at a lite rock FM is a small town for $100 a day we'd sell 7 at 5 seconds per hour (back about 1992). We simply took the 5 second re-entry from the satellite-fed format to insert the spot. We already had calls and tag line before each break, so we sacrificed the re-entry station ID for the day.

    One selling point is the consumer typically goes online at some point before making contact with a business. A non-commercial FM I worked with did 8 second underwriting spots. These were sold with a business directory listing on the station website. The pitch was the 8 second spot was the rod & reel with bait that got the fish to bite. The business directory listing that told the whole story about the business reeled them in. I pointed out remembering phone numbers and website addresses was iffy when people listen while driving or while working but they can remember the station website for more information. We called it the 'one, two punch'. An example: Support comes from Marble Falls Pest Control offering once a year fire ant protection. Details in the Lake's business directory at ...  We pitched it as a package that was less per day than the daily lunch special at the local cafe ($179.50 month).

    5 second ads are over and done so fast, the listener doesn't perceive it as a commercial. I always like to use something people can relate to: great advertising results are like a great meal. The 5 second message (I never call it a spot or commercial) delivers great results one bite at a time. 

    They are cost effective for the radio station: they're quick to write, quick to produce (if not done live) and free up payroll for other duties. Because you can run more units, you can increase your rate per 60 seconds (12x5sec.) and lower commercial loads. Chances are you'll increase billing. Don't just convert the typical monthly budget to 5 seconds unless you can increase the monthly budget a bit. The 5 second is so effective, you deserve the extra dollars. 

    The most important lesson I learned in selling radio: clients could care less the length. They have a message to convey and the time it takes to convey the message is what matters. If that's 10 seconds, 25 seconds or 33 seconds or more, it's not the length that matters, it's the message that matters. Never window dress a message so much to hit a time length that the message is obscured. Example: TV spot with man in passenger seat of pickup truck saying "you're not listening to me now". Camera pans to show dog driving pickup as it goes flying off the road into a pond as the man says "Mother of Pearl, Noooo!" Can you name the advertiser? (Carfax). I loved the spot but never recalled the advertiser for the first few times I saw that commercial.