Five-Minute Media

A new mid-form format is bringing the strengths of short-form and long-form to DRTV products that benefit from the extra time to educate.


For years, the gold standard in short-form DRTV has been :60 and :120 commercials. The extended selling time—:45 and :105, respectively—offered enough time to demonstrate the features and benefits of a $19.95 product with by a :15 call to action to close the sale. These short-form lengths became the workhorses for many products, but there was a catch: Short-form offerings had a price ceiling of “three-pays” and/or a $39.99 price tag.


Conversely, long-form ads have been the mainstay of advertisers with products priced in the hundreds of dollars. Many are major brands today—Ninja, Shark, NutriBullet, and others. Over the years, long-form shows have expanded from their original overnight plays into mainstream commercial formats, airing in higher-profile dayparts. But, like the short-form, long-form shows air in fixed times and are limited in their ability to reach new viewers.


Working with a handful of advertisers about four years ago, cable networks introduced the 5:00 break, and the mid-form was born. At its inception, the 5:00 message was limited to spaces between long-form shows, which often had the effect of eclipsing the 5:00 message. But through testing and refinement, additional dayparts and time periods were formatted for the 5:00 length. This has yielded one of the most significant DRTV breakthroughs in years.


Today, cable networks including Discovery, NBC Universal, Viacom, and Scripps offer a 5:00 option. Other networks are reformatting to accommodate 5:00s to develop media packages for Mercury Media clients that successfully integrate this option, and it’s a win-win for all involved.


In 2013, traditional DRTV product marketers have experienced the greatest success with higher-cost products, many of which have spun off from successful long-form programs. Additionally, many lead-generation offerings have expanded their 5:00 activity and are noticing an increase in sales conversions from the leads.


Product categories such as household appliances, specialty products, and beauty products are experiencing great success, as are high-ticket lead-generation campaigns. The common thread? Demonstrability! The 5:00 mid-form is the perfect platform for any product that “shows” well or benefits from the extra time to educate. Five minutes is enough time to differentiate a product and deliver a relatively complicated message with less clutter, encouraging greater attention.


5:00 spots offer a number of other advantages, including:

• The ability to “live” in short- and long-form worlds. Products familiar to short- and long-form spaces alike have found success with the 5:00 mid-form.

• Time to ensure that the viewer sees and understands the offer. There is enough time to educate the consumer and build awareness for the product.

• Time to demonstrate. Additional facets of the product can communicated with greater depth.

• Attention. A 5:00 is embedded into programming, drawing greater attention.

• Branding. A 5:00 spot also can complement an advertiser’s overall sales strategy and include brand messages.


Because of the success of the 5:00, savvy DRTV advertisers are now testing 3:00 and 4:00 alternatives. We’ll keep you posted on how these variations work!

Gina Pomponi is senior vice president of Mercury Media, the largest privately owned, full-service performance marketing agency in the country, with headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., and offices in New York, N.Y.; Framingham, Mass.; Princeton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa., and Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at [email protected] or at (484) 804-7700.