Are ads too long?

Our attention spans are shorter than ever, but there’s been a recent crop of ads stretching beyond the usual 60 seconds. We ask a couple of experts if a longer ad can make more impact, how to keep an audience hooked, or whether it’s just too much

During this year’s Oscars there was much talk (prompted by Hugh Grant) about whether films are too long now, with three out of the five best film nominees clocking run times of over two hours. In the ad world, while the run times are much shorter – the average ad is 30-60 seconds long – for some brands these precious seconds have been stretched into minutes.

Recent examples include Saatchi & Saatchi’s first Christmas spot for John Lewis, which was two minutes long (following previous iterations also over two minutes), Montblanc’s three-minute epic directed by Wes Anderson, and Greenpeace’s two-minute ad MoneyTrees that targeted unregulated banks.

As a result, there’s been some questioning around whether ads are getting too long. Do people pay attention for that long, and is it even a little indulgent with this time-poor TikTok generation?