When Timing is Everything, Get Your Spot’s Length & Location Spot On

In today's connected and intelligent world, attention spans are waning. We're served up ads almost everywhere we go, whether it's while tuning in to radio shows on the daily commute, cozied up on the couch watching our favourite TV shows, or watching videos on our tablets. Because of this, digital and direct marketing professionals and media buyers are tasked with choosing precisely the right ad length and location, which can be unnerving.

When timing is everything, how do we get a spot's length and location spot on?

More time to tell = more time to sell

When introducing a new product into the market, advertisers benefit from starting with a 120-second direct response spot TV commercial, known as DRTV. Simply, this length captivates the consumer while providing context and detail in introducing a problem and explaining the product as the solution. A 120-second spot provides advertisers the chance to reinforce features and benefits through WOW-factor demos, credible testimonials, and a tempting call to action. The magic of 120 seconds lies in delivering enough accurate and alluring content to bring on the aha! moment – when a viewer makes an emotional connection and says "I want this!" and proceeds with the spot's call to 'act now'.

When shorter is better

Once a product sees strong TV performance analytics and sales, developed a retail distribution channel, and gained momentum as a household name, consider cutting radio and TV ads down to 30 or 15 seconds to maintain brand relevancy and interest. When it comes to a drive-to-web and drive-to-retail launch spots, the 30-second is the preferred "introductions" length and will always outplay the 15-second. Similarly to the 120-second spot scenario, DTR and DTW advertisers can segue to the shorter 15-second spot once the brand has been established. When it comes to selling a short-lived promo, adding in 15s to 30s at a high frequency in short periods does the trick.

Quick tips for video lengths:

Broadcast television

Advertisers want to start with running a 120-second TV commercial. Once tested, consider cutting to a 60-second spot to run concurrently with the launch spot. Why? Media availability for 60-seconds is more frequent and affordable, so running both together, with the 120-second at a lower frequency, makes a successful ROI easier to maintain.

Digital video

The rules around reaching an audience online change as quickly as the multi-faceted, high-powered medium itself. Simply, keep it short. A 120-second spot on Facebook, unless remarkably compelling or pushed out by a celebrity, will not hold user attention. Instead, test video lengths at 10-, 15-, and 30-seconds. You'll know which length performs best based on your click through rate of the call to action (in this case, often a web link) to buy or learn more.


Ads for digital radio like music streaming and podcasts tend to mimic the direct response 'call-to-action' format. Similarly to broadcast radio, digital radio follows the same strategy: 60-second launch spot followed by more frequent 30- and 15-seconds for maintenance. For a medium where voice and words matter so much more, pay close attention to tone and language selection, and never cut or compromise on the message you want to deliver.

Got questions about ad lengths for our team? Get in touch!

By Sophia Vick, Senior Media Manager and Elizabeth Neilsen, Creative Director of Sales