End of Summer Creative Series, Vol. 1: The Ad Length Debate

As Summer moves to Fall, SI is launching a 3-part series on video creative for digital platforms. This is the 1st in the series.


(“Bruce :15”, the digital short version of our longer story of Ohio’s job losses, produced for Americans for Prosperity)


Fox announced earlier this year that they will begin selling 6 second ads on both their digital and traditional TV properties. YouTube and Facebook both are adding :06 inventory, and the former will no longer sell unskippable ads beyond this length (For more on skippable vs. unskippable ad inventory, stay tuned for our next installment).


Citing higher viewer complete rates (VCR), many political ad agencies are jumping on the bandwagon, recommending clients produce short ads (:06 and :15) vs. longer versions.


So, in the great debate over digital video length, shorter is better. Right?




Consider this: YouTube reports the average length of top performing ads is 3:00. None of the recent top-performers on their platform were less than 1:00. Their best performing ad of the 2016 holiday season? The brilliant 3:53 ad from H&M Stores, directed by Wes Anderson (Winner of our favorite holiday ad competition. Watch it again here: )


What’s more, recent media effectiveness studies have shown that :06 ads are particularly ineffective at achieving brand lift. So while short spots do seem to aid in overall campaign recall, they are less likely to deliver the emotion required to make a persuasive political ad.


In fact, viewer completion rate is a poor metric for ad performance overall. It’s a false positive, particularly so for political campaigns. Overall time spent with a candidate’s ad leads to better persuasion, motivation, and brand lift. That’s the result of a recent study by Google. The more emotional your ad, the longer the viewer will watch, and the more persuaded they will be.


It’s all about the creative.


(Source: Google, Custom Brand Lift Survey, U.S.)


The Solution:

Make strong, emotional storytelling the cornerstone of your ad strategy. Then, tailor your ad length to your goals. Use shorter formats to boost ad recall. Use longer formats like :30, :60, and :90 seconds to tell an emotional story that connects with the voter.


Thanks for reading part 1 of our Summer/Fall Creative Series. Watch for our next installment: “Skippable or Unskippable,” as we explore the data behind both digital ad formats. And as always, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest trends in advertising.



– Ryan Horn
Vice President, Sandler-Innocenzi


by ALEX SWOYER 4 Aug 2015 Washington, DC18
Fox News determined the top ten GOP presidential candidates that will take to the main debate stage on Thursday based on the average of five national polls, but a veteran Republican strategist exclusively told Breitbart News that the margin of error within each poll could impact the ranking, especially for the last few slots in the top ten.

“The margin of error on most of these polls are either three or four percent, so someone at one could really be at four or five … or even below zero,” explained Jim Innocenzi, a veteran Republican strategist who spoke exclusively with Breitbart News on this issue. “When you get down to the smaller numbers, there is a huge variance from one versus another.”

Innocenzi explained the impact from the margin of error is really more critical to the candidates at the bottom of the top ten, not necessarily someone who is leading the pack of the GOP field overwhelmingly, such as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had a 14 point lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush came in second, with 12 percent in a recent Monmouth poll.

“It’s fairly valid where Trump is versus where Christie is,” Innocenzi told Breitbart News.

“When you get to the seven, eight, ninth, and tenth candidates versus someone who is eleven or twelve, it could all be the same,” he explained.

As to whether or not Fox News should have announced the five polls that will be used to make the final top ten selections, Innocenzi said, “I don’t think it matters. To be honest, I think that it doesn’t matter what five polls they pick. It’s going to be arbitrary.”

“At some point you have to draw the line, so they’re going to pick the five that are going to be the most valid,” he said, adding that he believes Fox News is going to be as fair as it can in determining the top ten GOP candidates.

Innocenzi has been in the business for about 35 years running political advertisement campaigns at the local, state and federal levels. “I’ve got people elected,” Innocenzi said of his veteran status in the world of politics.

On the topic of campaign advertisements, he said the candidates are “renting votes to be on TV right now,” suggesting that it “may not be a great measure of who is real and who isn’t real” in terms of whether or not voters would actually support a particular candidate.

Fox News and Facebook will host the first GOP presidential primary debate Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio. The top ten candidates – determined by Fox News as previously mentioned – will take the debate stage at 9 PM eastern. The other seven GOP presidential candidates who do not make the top ten will participate in a candidate forum, which begins at 5 PM eastern that same day.

“The 9 PM debate is going to be all about Donald Trump,” Innocenzi said. He referenced the candidate forum held Monday by the New Hampshire Union Leader and C-SPAN not getting that much attention across news and social media platforms. Trump was not in attendance to that forum.

“I’m sure people are going to watch because of Donald Trump,” he added.

Innocenzi explained that he doesn’t believe many voters will tune in to watch the debate on a Thursday night in August, saying the only people who will watch are political consultants, political junkies, or press folks.

“The rest of America is on vacation,” he added.

“A lot of stuff is going to happen between this debate and the next debate,” Innocenzi concluded, adding that to “some extent, being in the smaller debate may actually be beneficial to somebody where they have a chance to break through.”

Mississippi – They Don’t Call Them Rebels For Nothing

The state of Mississippi rebels against conventional wisdom by helping once politically dead Senator Thad Cochran secure the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Given that there was a higher turnout in the runoff than the primary (that almost never happens) the results show that Mississippians will vote with their pocket books like voters in the other 49 states.

What is surprising is that the Cochran campaign was able to expand the electorate to include GOP aligned voters who didn’t vote in the primary — and Democrats. In this case, Team Cochran, with former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour calling the shots, took a page from Barack Obama’s playbook.  The President’s team understood way back in 2007, when they were running against Hillary Clinton, that they could only win if they expand the voter base.  Ditto for Team Cochran in 2014.

But most of the kudos should go out to Haley Barbour who may be the smartest man in the state when it comes understanding Mississippi’s voters.  He instinctively knows that, given the chance these voters will keep someone in office, if they can deliver the goods.

The Cochran campaign made the case, and Haley and the ground crew just made sure voters showed up on Election Day.

Given that they had the cash to prosecute and implement their strategy, this was a case of textbook playbook, textbook execution = winning results.



Jim Innocenzi

Founding Partner, Sandler-Innocenzi

705 Prince Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 684-0633


Raul Labrador Not Your Average Rebel

Raul Labrador, the 2nd term Congressman from Idaho, is not your average rebel rouser masquerading as a Member of Congress on Capitol Hill these days.

In fact there is nothing you can say about Labrador that is average.

He’s Hispanic.  There aren’t many of those around the GOP caucus.

He was born in Puerto Rico, yet represents half the western “Gem” state.

And he is an articulate spokesperson to a new generation of Republican leaders, which is why you see him on the Sunday morning news shows.

Oh, and now he’s running for Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that it’s foolish to run against current Whip, Kevin McCarthy of California, who most believe has the Majority Leader’s post sewn up.  But Labrador doesn’t look at it that way.

(Full disclosure: Our firm produced Labrador’s campaign commercials the last two election cycles. I have some measure of the man.)

Labrador’s interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin last week gives us some insight.  When asked if he felt that there would be retribution from the leadership if he pursues Eric Cantor’s position, Labrador answered “No.”  For the cynics in Washington that is either a huge dose of naiveté, or a person who has totally lost touch with reality.

Actually it’s neither. Labrador is one of these rare birds who does things because he believes they are the right things to do.  Whether they are politically smart is left for others to decide, but for this Member of Congress, it’s a matter of conscience. And let’s remember, he is one of the few Members who sleeps in his Capitol Hill office to save living expenses.

As Labrador explained, to Levin, “I actually have a good relationship with Speaker Boehner…I had a life before Congress. I will have a life after Congress, a great family and live in a wonderful state.”  Labrador is running, as he puts it, because it is “time to change the way things are done in Washington.”

Those self-important people whose lips get cold kissing themselves in the mirror every day will say Labrador doesn’t understand how this town works. And perhaps they are correct.

But for those who dream of a better America it’s certainly refreshing.


Jim Innocenzi

Founding Partner, Sandler-Innocenzi

705 Prince Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 684-0633