The 6-Second Ad for EDU

6 is the New 30: The 6-Second Ad for Higher Ed

Why do in 30 seconds what you can do in six? That’s the challenge YouTube presented to agency creatives and filmmakers at Sundance.

In a world of constant media consumptionwhere anyone can post and go viral through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Vimeoit’s more important than ever to stay relevant. On top of that, we know the average human’s attention span is now shorter than a goldfish.

The best way to share information? By showing, not telling. Students know you want to give them personalized attention and financial aidwhat they don’t know is how your program will make them feel, what it can help them achieve or why your alumni network is so close knit.

[Tweet “It’s more important than ever to stay relevant in a world of constant media consumption.“]


Your narrative should be different than what you would typically execute for a longer form video. Get to the point (it should be just one) and make it count. Participants in YouTube’s challenge did not cut down longer videos to fit the six seconds. Instead, they crafted films to specifically fit the parameters.


Build curiosity, our brains aren’t constrained by time the way we think they are. Keep it simple by starting with an emotion: the pursuit of a craft, the focus of a deadline, the roar of a crowd at Saturday’s game.



85% of Facebook users are listening to video with the sound off. Know this and understand what it means. By making your video visually appealing, you’ll catch eyes before the autoplay even starts. Think strong creative showcasing campus beauty, collaboration and passion.



Prospects know intuitively that they’re being marketed to, but why does your video have to feel that way? Share authentically. If you don’t have the resources to create Sundance level films, just send a fearless leader (re: real-life student in your program) out with an iPhone and Vimeo account. They know what they care about and your prospects do, too.



Everyone is on the go these days. Assume your video is being sneakily glanced at during a Monday meeting, or from the train or while standing in line for today’s second cup of coffee. Utilize text overlay if necessary, but keep it brief. Highly qualified prospects already know they’re ready to advance their careers. Be the university that convinces them that the time is now and the provider is you.



Customize the style and length of your video on different platforms. The six-second video is relevant and necessary, but I’m not suggesting all your videos be this brief. What I am suggesting is that, when you focus dollars on social channels, you understand the mindset of the end user.


If I’m watching a TED talk on YouTube, I might be ready to listen to a 30-second video with a testimonial. If I’m scrolling through Facebook, looking for my friend’s new baby pictures, I might only have six seconds to spare.



Finally, make sure your video has an indirect CTA. Direct them back to your site for more of that great content you’re producing on blogs, through alumni spotlights, through student treks. Channel the momentum from your six-second ads to a page for student work, so the narrative keeps going and the conversation has a clear next step.


Excited about video and interested in other new and next ideas? Check out our recent webinar, Dazed and Digital: 10 New Ideas in 30 Minutes.

Michelle Rhatigan
Michelle Rhatigan
August 8, 2017