Long Form and Short Form AdvertisingAdvertising has one main purpose: to persuade consumers to purchase products or services. Different forms of advertising are used depending upon the media type. Long form advertising and short form advertising can both be found in nearly all media types, whether print, online or in video form.
The terms ‘long form advertising’ and ‘short form advertising’ refer specifically to the length of an advertisement. Long form advertising is product specific and outlines the product details in order to inform and educate the consumer. Short form advertising is generally vague in regard to product detail and assumes the consumer is already familiar with the product or brand name.
Historically, long form advertisements are the main form of advertising. They are geared toward the consumer who wants to know the details of what the product is, the purpose of the product, how to use the product, why they should buy the product, and where they can purchase the product. The consumer searches out these types of advertisements in order to find what they are looking for and to make an informed decision.
Short form advertisements were developed as a means of reaching consumers who are too busy with their daily lives to pay attention to long advertisements. As the attention span of a consumer becomes shorter, so does the short form advertisement. Short form advertisements are intended to be quick blurbs about a product or service and are intended to elicit impulse purchases.
Although short form advertising has become the preferred advertising method of big name brands and prominent companies, long form advertising continues to evolve and benefit both the company and the consumer. Each form of advertising has its benefits and advantages.
Long form advertising consists of infomercials, block radio, direct mail, magazines or newspapers as full page ads or articles, and online as webinars and entire web pages. These advertisements produce great benefits for both company and consumer. The advertisement is targeted to consumers who are specifically looking for the product. Consumers are given specific information about the product, what it is, how to use it, why to use it and how to get it. The consumer is able to purchase the product from home by telephone or Internet and have it delivered directly to them.
Short form advertising consists of commercials ranging from 5 seconds to 5 minutes, radio spots, coupons, billboards, bus tails, magazines, newspapers, and online as banner ads and links. These advertisements are a great benefit to well known companies or products. They are designed to be quick and entertaining to keep the short attention span of the consumer. Short form advertisements are often used to entertain the consumer and serve as a reminder of the product’s existence. This method is not intended to inform the consumer, but to keep the product in the consumer’s mind in order to trigger impulse buys.
There are several factors to consider when determining whether to use short form advertising or long form advertising as well as when to use each. Each form serves a purpose and targets a specific audience. A consumer would choose long form advertising when the product or service is an item they have thought about and intend on buying. This consumer has the time and desire to engage in the advertisement. A consumer who purchases based on short form advertising is likely to make impulse purchases, is familiar with the product, brand or service and knows where to find the product or service. This consumer is busy or has a short attention span and wants to be quickly captured.
A company making the decision to use long form advertising or short form advertising would first need to consider their target audience, as well as their specific product or service. Reputable brand names or products may benefit best from short form advertising. The company and/or products are well known and priced in such a way as to encourage impulse shopping. The consumer merely needs a reminder that the product is available and is something they need. Expensive or unknown products, as well as complex products, may benefit best from long form advertising. The consumer needs to know what the product is and that it is worth the perceived value.
In addition to the target audience’s spending habits and product type, a company must also consider its own budget and time limits based on the advertisement’s media type. In general, long form advertisements are more expensive and require a greater amount of time to produce. Short form advertisements tend to cost less than long form advertisements and can be produced in a shorter amount of time. In addition, a short form advertisement on prime time television is likely to be more expensive and time consuming than a long form advertisement in the local newspaper.
With no financial or time restraints, ‘No Name Company’ would obtain the best results from advertising their newly invented kitchen widget in an infomercial where the product can be fully described. Here, a salesperson can effectively perform a product demonstration to show the consumer why he or she is better served to purchase the more expensive product immediately via television rather than the “cheap-doesn’t-do-everything model” at a local store for only twenty dollars.
Likewise, a reputable writers’ workshop may benefit from long form advertising in a print magazine specific to the target audience. The advertisement would explicitly detail the events of the conference and consumers would be able to immediately see how this investment would benefit them. Consumers would be informed as to why they should attend, where it is held and how to complete the registration process.
In the above two examples, long form advertising is beneficial to the promotion of the product because it provides the consumer with all relevant information, which results in targeted sales. Neither of these examples would benefit from short form advertising. The products are too complex and need the detailed explanations available only with long form advertising.
Even with no financial or time restraints, some companies and products would benefit most from short form advertising. Brand Name Clothing Company would do well with a short form advertisement for their new line of Sassy Style Slimming Jeans. The consumer is already familiar with the brand and knows where to purchase the products. The consumer only needs an entertaining reminder to look for the new line.
No Name Candy Company would also benefit best from short form advertising with the promotion of their newest candy bar. Again, consumers are familiar with the product in general and know where to purchase it. The consumer does not have the time or the desire to be bothered with specific details. The objective is to entertain the consumer in order create awareness of the product and elicit an impulse purchase during the next shopping trip.
In these examples, it is clear that long form advertising would not serve these products well. Brand Name Clothing Company could use long form advertising to show off their entire new line of Sassy Style Slimming Jeans, but it really is not necessary and would only target a small number of consumers who would focus their attention throughout the advertisement. No Name Candy Company, while an unknown company with an unknown product, would not benefit much from long form advertising due to the nature of the product. In general, there is not much of an audience for the scientific details and making of a candy bar. There is no complexity as to how to use the product, and the price is fair. Therefore, the consumer does not need to be convinced to make a purchase, but merely needs to know the product is available.
While the evolution of mainstream advertising has changed drastically from informative and descriptive to short and fast with very little, if any, description, long form advertising and short form advertising are both finding their own place in today’s marketing world. Both forms boast advantages and benefits to the consumer and the company. When determining which form to use, a company must take into consideration its target audience, company and product or service to ensure the success of the advertisement.
This does not mean that one form is always more effective or better than the other. What this does mean, however, is that as people and technological solutions continue to evolve, so does the world of advertising. The end goal is to meet the needs and expectations of the consumer.