May I Have Your Attention Please?

That's even briefer than goldfish's nine seconds memory.

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People's attention span is scant – eight seconds to be precise, said a Microsoft study in 2015. That's even briefer than goldfish's nine seconds memory. No wonder hooking the audience to your product or service through even a two minute infomercial would be quite overwhelming. If that's where your efforts and money are getting flushed, then switch to minimercials – leaner, shorter and crisper form of infomercials that ends even before you blink. Ashish Mehta, who runs a digital marketing platform for e-commerce – Sokrati, tells how mini videos are in for a major overhaul in brand engagement.

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Can you give a quick snapshot about minimercials?

Minimercials are very short videos – from as less as seven seconds to 30 seconds whereas infomercials can even play for half-an-hour. They are great for binge-watching and have young millennials as ideal audience since the age demographic on digital platforms is relatively young. They work better for business-to-consumer (B2C) model than business-to-business (B2B) where your customers want to quickly understand about your product and its usage. At the
bottom of the video you can provide link to your website for people to visit, look at and buy that product. Companies do that from return on investment (RoI) perspective, even though minimercials are information first and advertising second as a format. But since advertisers can either put a formal ad for the product or a shoppable video, they choose latter that serves both purposes.

But why those are less suited for B2B businesses?

B2B products are complicated in nature compared to B2C and price points too are on the higher side. For e.g., if LinkedIn wants to sell its sales prospecting tool Sales Navigator or want to buy companies' databases then coming up with a minimercial would be too complicated where they would have to explain several things, whereas they are ideal for mass consumption. I would rather call 100 people in a B2B set up and give them required information instead of creating a minimercial.

Any check-list you would suggest before start-ups jump onto it?

Storyboarding is extremely important which can communicate an idea clearly
and it carries an emotional connect with the consumer for virality. But, minimercials only make sense after you have achieved your product-market fit and have feedback from early customers of how the product is being treated to reach out to a larger number of audiences. Also decide what you expect out of minimercials - it can be either virality by adding elements like humor or to create brand awareness and also to have a decent RoI, as with just brand videos you can't expect returns. With minimercials you measure your RoI via click outs, number of page views and lastly, the amount of sale that it can drive. They appeal greatly in sectors like health, beauty and food.

How does cost play out?

The production cost matters but it has different aspects. For a bootstrapped start-up, to decide whether it should spend money on minimercials, or performance marketing or something else, would be tough. From storyboarding to final editing, it might take around three weeks to come up with a minimercial, which costs around Rs 40 lakh - for e.g. 18 seconds Goibibo "paise bachao' ad which came out in 2013. But cost for a studio shoot with a model or a celebrity would run into few crores. But there is innovation happening on minimercials too. At Sokrati, we are focusing on separate verticals.

For retail, we are figuring out how to create minimercials at a fraction of cost from Rs 5,000-10,000 to achieve scalability in terms of number of minimercials which can be leveraged from multiple perspectives. So if your expectation is just about the virality then you would create five-10 minimercials and hope one of them gets viral. But if it is about seeking RoI then you would want to test more than 100 minimercials, one for each product, and see which one is doing well.

So infomercials would be extinct soon?

Minimercials will certainly impact the virality of infomercials but won't replace them. If I can get enough of information in 30 seconds then I would never see anything of lengthier duration. Going forward, we would see everyone from start-ups to large brands moving towards minimercials.