Tuesday, July 07, 2015

How Long Should An Online Commercial Be?

This is a question asked by Andy Chandler today in one of the ad pubs.

It’s the same question that we asked many years ago right here in this blog. 

How long should a commercial be?

The answer then is the same as it is now.

As long as it’s interesting.

How do we know when a commercial has stopped being interesting?  

Simple.  When the viewer stops watching. 

That’s the beauty of online.  The viewer is in control.  They can opt-in and opt-out of commercials at their prerogative.

But once they opt-in, why don’t we create compelling content to keep them watching longer?

Time is something that nobody has enough of.

Which is why every second that we get a potential customer watching one of our ads, that’s one second less they have to give to your competitors’ ads.

More time-spent with your commercial means less time-spent with theirs.

All it requires is for us to realize that there is nothing magical about thirty seconds.

Where the magic lies is in being interesting.

As long as you are, people will watch.

And for much longer than thirty seconds.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Data Is The New Creativity

There is a lot of talk about data these days and how it relates to creativity.

The mindchange that we’ve been pushing for some time now is that data is the new creativity.

Here’s why.

Digital data can tell us how long viewers are involved with a commercial.  The longer they are involved with the commercial, the better the chances are of that commercial working (provide your own definition of ‘working’ here).

So viewer involvement – some call it engagement - measured as time-spent, offers value to the advertiser.

So how does this number relate to creativity?

Rather directly, we’re afraid, if one allows creativity to be paid for based on the viewer’s involvement.

The longer viewers are involved in a commercial, the more the creative agency makes.  The opposite would also hold true.

After all, if involvement offers value to the advertiser, should it not also offer value to the agency that created the involvement?

What this means is that the creative agency has skin in the game.  Basically, they’re no longer getting paid for how long they work on a commercial, but rather, for how long the viewer watches it for.

In return for agreeing to be paid on this basis, the advertiser must offer something to the agency.

And that is a freer hand when it comes to the creative itself.

Perhaps this is what the ‘New Creativity’ really is. 

More creative freedom to the agency - but in return - being held financially accountable through data.

Not using data to see whether the spot runs. 

Or, not.

But rather, to see whether the agency gets paid.

Or, not.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Paying Attention For Attention

In a recent survey from Unruly, it was shown that marketers are now placing a greater emphasis on winning a viewer’s attention.

Rather than click-through rates, viewability and completed views are now what marketers are finding most important.

So here’s the question.  Whom is accountable for viewability?  And, whom is accountable for completed views? 

Are both the responsibility of media?

I don’t think so.  And I’m not talking about forced views here.  We all know that forced views don’t measure true attention.  True attention can only be measured when the viewer opts in to watch.

Obviously, this means the commercial needs to be ‘viewable’ in the first place.

And yes, media is responsible for allowing the commercial to be viewable. 

But once the viewer clicks in to start watching the commercial, the responsibility of maintaining a viewer’s attention falls on the creative itself.

So if the creative is accountable for maintaining attention, why aren’t creative agencies being paid based on how much attention they create?

If more attention is more valuable to the marketer than less attention, then shouldn’t the ability to create that attention be more valuable to the agency as well?

Attention can be measured as view duration.

So why isn’t compensation for creative agencies also partially based on view duration?

Just a thought.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

As An Advertiser, How Much Would You Be Willing To Pay To Have Consumers Spend 652 Days With Your Brand?

What if the answer were $1 million?

Would you spend it?

While you think about that, let me take you through a scenario.

A client of mine recently ran a long-form commercial (2 minutes & 20 seconds) for six days online.  It was not an intrusive format – but rather – user-initiated.

Over six days, there were 1,542 unique viewers who clicked in to watch the commercial.  Average time spent per unique viewer?  One minute and fifty seconds.

In other words, over six days, this client received 169,620 seconds of time spent with her brand.

That’s 47 hours worth.

When she heard that, here’s what she asked me.  How much would it normally cost to get 47 hours worth of time spent with a brand?

I thought that was a hell of a good question.

After all, what she paid to run this long-form commercial for six days was $3,000.  Now most would look at that and say she only got 1,542 unique views.  Not worth the effort.

But she wasn’t interested in how many.  She was interested in how long.  

She understood that we are all pressed for time.  That there are only 24 hours in a day.  Which meant, more likely than not, the longer that a consumer spent with her brand, the less time they would have to spend with the competitor's brand.

For her, it wasn't about impressions.  

It was about involvement.

The way she looked at it, her three grand got her 47 hours of time spent with her brand. 

This is why what The Financial Times is doing with Cost Per Hour (yesterday’s post)—selling time spent versus impressions—is so important. 

And why it will be even more important with video.  Because with user-initiated video, we know exactly when someone starts watching the actual commercial. 

And, when they stop.

So let’s extrapolate.  If $3,000 earned this advertiser 47 hours of time spent, then $1 million should deliver 15,666 hours of time spent with the brand.

What do those 15,666 hours translate to?

652 days.  

We know how many impressions someone can get for a million dollars.  But what the industry will soon need to know, is how much involvement does that same million bring them.

After all, as an advertiser, would you rather have a million impressions?

Or, 652 days spent with your brand?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is It Time To Pay Attention To Attention-Based Models?

Yesterday, The Financial Times announced a new digital advertising metric – ‘cost per hour’ (CPH).  They devised the model with Chartbeat.  The result?  Increasing marketing effectiveness by measuring not just whether an ad is seen or not, but for how long.

Currently, this new metric is available only for digital display ads, not video ads.  That will soon change.  After all, video ads supply even more data – when someone actually starts watching the ad itself.  And, when they stop watching.

While everyone has always assumed that the more time spent with a piece of advertising, the better the brand recall, The Financial Times now gives us actual numbers. 

According to a white paper written by Nikul Sanghvi, an analytics consultant on the project, when comparing ads seen for five seconds or more with ads seen for less than five seconds, all metrics showed significant improvement:   Ad Recall (+79%), Brand Familiarity (+55%), Brand Association (+51%), and Brand Consideration (+58%).

What’s more, these results were shown to increase the longer that the ad was seen.

Would this translate equally well to video advertising?

The assumption would probably be yes.  But there is something even more relevant about time spent with video advertising than display advertising. 

Unlike display advertising, video advertising runs on the dimension of time – :15, :30, :60.

 Which means if we can interest people in watching, a thirty-second ad would be more effective than a fifteen-second ad and a sixty-second ad would be more effective than a thirty-second ad.

We can now measure peoples’ interest in video ads through time spent with the ad.

So why aren’t they sold that way?

The Financial Times sells attention for display ads on a cost per hour basis.  Could time spent with video ads also be sold on a cost per hour basis?


How to do that?

We'll leave that for another post.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Accountability Is The New Creativity

In an article that ran today, the headline read, ‘Yes, Creative and Data Can Be Friends.’

I don’t think it’s about data and creativity being friends.  I think of the two as being partners.

Data brings about accountability.  Which means it should allow advertisers to hold creativity accountable.

But, accountable for what?

Sales?  That is a form of indirect accountability to say the least.  A lot has to happen before a sale takes place.

So what is the creative most directly responsible for?  If we’re talking about a thirty-second spot, what can data tell us about that spot?

Well, one thing it tells us is that for those who opted-in to watch the spot, how long they watched it for.

As an advertiser, if you create a thirty-second spot, do you think your sales will improve if people watch all thirty seconds?  Or, are you happy if they watch only ten seconds?

Since you paid for thirty seconds to be produced, I can only assume that you think all thirty seconds are relevant to the sale.

So why not hold your agency accountable for view duration?  Pay them accordingly for the creative they produce.  The longer the view duration, the more the agency makes.

The shorter the view duration, the less they make.

Obviously, for the agency to buy into this, they will demand that the advertiser give them more leeway when it comes to the actual creative.  After all, getting paid based on view duration means the agency has skin in the game.

But this will only lead to more creative, creative.

And that, in turn, should lead to more sales.

Which is why accountability will soon become the new creativity.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Media Transparency Vs. Creative Transparency

With the current brouhaha over undisclosed agency rebates and kickbacks from the media, it’s apparent that greater transparency will be soon called for.

But media is not the only place transparency is needed.

According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), overall agency compensation (even outside of media kickbacks) remains a contentious issue.  Only 40% of agency executives believe it is currently fair versus 72% of advertisers.

Procurement is probably not the answer as only 46% of clients and 10% of agencies think of procurement as a fair process.

So what do we do next?

In terms of video creative, there seems to be a transparent solution already in place.  That is, if the advertising community chooses to embrace it.

The reason they may not want to embrace it is because it would hold creative agencies accountable.  And accountability is something that most agencies don’t want to sign up for.

So what is this apparently transparent solution?  Let creative agencies be paid for their video creative based on view duration.

Both agencies and advertisers will probably agree that a thirty-second commercial viewed for the full thirty-seconds will prove to be more valuable than a thirty-second commercial viewed for just five seconds.  (If not, agencies will need to figure out an answer as to why they don't just create five-second commercials.)

If this is indeed true, it raises an interesting question.  

If view duration creates value for the advertiser, then shouldn’t it also create value for the agency that created it?

In other words, the longer the commercial involves the viewer, the more the agency makes.

On the digital platform, view duration is completely transparent—obviously we’re only talking about viewer-initiated commercials here—not forced views.  Digital data tells us when a person has opted-in to watch.   And, when they've opted-out of watching.

 Right now, the industry is based on the following formula:

                        Share of voice = Share of mind = Share of market

It’s all about media dollars—the more spent—the greater the chance of building market share.  Ironically, the more media dollars spent, the greater the kickbacks and rebates.

But let’s say the formula was changed to this:

                        Share of time = Share of mind = Share of market

In other words, the more involving the creative, the greater the chance of building market share. 

While this doesn’t completely eradicate the issue of media dollar kickbacks, it does do the following.

By letting the viewer determine the value of a commercial (by measuring how much time they spend with it), it allows the worth of a spot (in the viewers' eyes) to affect the cost of a spot.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t remember a media agency ever saying they’d like to allow the worth of an impression to affect the cost of an impression.  

Do you?