How brands can maximise engagement in just 6 seconds

Anders Lidström / September 2019

You know an ad has landed well when you come home to find your kids singing the theme tune over and over (and over) again. In my home, none landed better than Flygresor’s Sortera flygresor efter minsta utsläpp (Sort flights based on lowest emissions), and it seems I was not alone.

In razor-sharp competition, the six-second bumper ad, promoting, a Swedish travel price comparison site, came first in Sweden’s annual YouTube Bumper Ads leaderboard.

‘Reverse engineering’ video formats

In a world where audiences increasingly dictate where, when, and how they choose to watch content, and where brands increasingly struggle for attention, bumper ads offer a format designed to be attention-grabbing.

As unskippable videos with a maximum length of six seconds, they are perfect for delivering brief, memorable messages to reach customers and create awareness. Successful bumper ads usually focus on a clear, simple point – where visuals and sound are key to be engaging.

“Bumpers are great as they are really a cost-efficient video format and the six second video can be used both for YouTube Ads as well as TV,” says Kristoffer Rengfors, CMO at “We've been investing in short films and wanted to create six second videos specifically. The length of the video was the most important thing – the starting point of the production. From six seconds, we did some 'reverse engineering' and created longer videos.”

Emotionally appealing, for all industries

The leaderboard itself is initially ranked by an algorithm that factors in total views and engagements, and then ranked by a user creative ratings survey run by Ipsos. The survey considers four parameters: likeability, memorability, emotion, and brand linkage.

A long way from the traditional 30-second TV spot, the bumper ads leaderboard celebrates the brands that have truly mastered the format. Interestingly, last year, the bumper leaderboards were dominated by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, but this year we have seen winners across all verticals, including travel, retail, telecom, auto, and finance – yes, even pension funds have tapped into the potential that bumper ads bring.

Peter Nordloev, Google Sweden’s agency relationship manager, explains: “Bumpers have become a very popular advertising format on YouTube in recent years. The format is short, and designed to fit all platforms and occasions when watching.”

How to make bumpers work for your brand

But how can you ensure that you maximise those six short seconds? “Some rules of thumb for effective bumpers is to clearly focus on a message, brand, or product and create engagement,” explains Nordloev. did just that, combining their bumper ads with a radio and TV campaign, meaning their catchy tune could be really remembered. “We already had a consistent brand concept as well, which made it easier to make short, effective videos that people remembered,” Rengfors explains.

Key to all of this is remembering your audience. “We believe that adding a sense of humour and a piece of fun to even a six second video is really important, and we don't believe in forcing the user to watch a long video,” Rengfors continues. “Either you show your message quickly and give the option to skip the ad so the user can go on with what they were doing, or you produce a really nice storytelling video.”

Most importantly, it’s about believing in – and committing to – your strategy. “You have to believe in yourself, that six seconds is enough – and realise that you won’t be able to squeeze everything in,” he concludes.

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