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Fox to Test Six-Second Ads During ‘Teen Choice’ Awards

Blink, and you’ll miss them: Fox intends to pepper its coming broadcast of “Teen Choice 2017” with six-second commercials for Duracell batteries and Snickers and Twix candy bars.

In a move that seeks to take a commercial format used frequently by YouTube and determine if it’s ready for primetime TV, the 21st Century Fox-owned broadcast network said it will run shorter commercial breaks during the August 13 event that will also include promos for Fox shows that are just six seconds in length.

Fox Networks Group, the network’s parent unit, wants to figure out what role the quick-hit ads might play in what it called “a broader marketing mix that also includes traditional spots.” The event’s younger audience is ” generally receptive to shorter ad formats.,” the company said in a statement. “Teen Choice” will contain fewer ad breaks as well.

This isn’t the first time TV networks and advertisers have tested short commercials. In 2005, Fox ran five-second ads it called “pod punchers” for AOL during its drama “Prison Break” that were placed at the very end of the commercial interruption. At the time, the hope was that viewers skipping past ads with the use of a DVR would stop scanning just before the show resumed and, in the process, watch the short-run promotion. The CW and other networks have also played with the concept over the years.

Now, Fox will have to see how TV viewers deal with an ad that is just one second longer. In this instance, however, it’s not the threat of fast-forwarding by DVR that has prompted the action. It’s the fact that younger viewers continue to migrate to streaming video on mobile devices — an environment where shorter and fewer ads are often the norm.

“Consumers, especially those that skew younger, demand shorter ad lengths and we see the Teen Choice Awards as a great way to showcase our Snickers Brand and Twix Brand stories in shorter pods that may reduce channel surfing,” said Ray Amati, a media director for Mars, in a prepared statement. “We believe our ‘power packed’ six-second ads could play a bigger role in our creative asset mix in the near future,” said Ramon Velutini, vice president of marketing at Duracell, in a statement.

The ad shorts no doubt speak to the shorter attention span of an American consumer bombarded by alerts, posts, tweets and push messages. On TV, however, the six-second missives will be just one element in an ad-break array. There is a risk they could be lost in the usual spread of TV clutter.

During TV’s recent “upfront” sales season, Fox Networks made a concerted push behind devising new ad formats — a signal that behaviors being evidenced by viewers of streaming content are gaining more sway.

TV has long utilized a model that calls for commercials to interrupt the programming which drew viewers to the screen in the first place, and as more people grow comfortable in digital environments with fewer ads or ads that are tied more directly to content, the TV is experimenting with its traditions. Fox Networks said earlier this year s that its FX cable network will “no longer” sell standard TV commercials for digital and on-demand playback of its content.

There are still some reasons to embrace ads that last 30 to 60 seconds — or more. “Teen Choice” viewers may be drawn to the six-second commercials — but they won’t be able to use those ad breaks to use the bathroom or grab a snack.

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