Friday, February 01, 2008

We Welcome CBS To The Second-By-Second Future

This week, it was reported that CBS signed on with TiVo to use the technology company’s second-by-second ratings.

Also this week, TNS Media Research and DirecTV announced the formation of a national audience panel whose viewing habits would be measured on a second-by-second basis.

It’s understandable that this news will take a backseat to the Microsoft/Yahoo hullabaloo. Microsoft and Yahoo are all about size. And, as an industry, we’re still impressed with the "bigness" factor.

"Seconds" are about something much smaller. But, in the long run, the idea of second-by-second data may play a larger role in the way advertising works than anything Microsoft and Yahoo ultimately become.

The reason is simply this. As audience size continues to fragment, how many see something decreases in value, while how long somebody watches something for, does the opposite.

As we all know, we will never go back to the mass audience sizes that made buying media so easy in the past. The ever-increasing amount of choices in regards to where we can spend our time, will make sure of that. But what hasn’t changed is the amount of time in which we can explore these choices.

Last I checked, a day was still 24 hours long.

With ever more information and entertainment competing for our attention, this means we'll have less time to spend on any one thing.

Including brands.

Which is why the strategy for most advertisers will need to change in the digital future. After all, the one thing that most advertisers will soon be desiring most is not exposure, but attention.

Exposure will be easy. We can run ads in more places now than ever before.

Which is exactly why getting someone’s attention is becoming much more difficult.

In the future, advertisers will need to become Time Bandits. Not in regards to buying time. But in regards to earning it.

After all, with the amount of time in a day being finite, the more time a consumer spends with one brand, the less time they will have to spend with the competitor’s brand. And I think we can all agree that it doesn’t take a large leap of faith to believe that the longer a person is exposed to a brand’s messaging, the greater the branding impact will be on that person.

And this is where second-by-second data comes in. It allows us to measure time-spent with a brand.

In the future, the more time spent, the greater the brand lift.

Which means the more data one has on time-spent, the more valuable that company becomes to advertisers.

Which is why we welcome CBS to the fold. And kudos to TNS for increasing the size of their second-by-second, oh, hell, let’s call it what it is, their “time-spent” panel.

In previous posts, we’ve praised the others who have already jumped on the second-by-second bandwagon: Starcom, NBC, Interpublic Group of Cos, Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Euro RSCG.

You were the first, but you certainly won’t be the last.

But, right now, you have a head-start, receiving second-by-second data that tells you how long consumers are spending with your clients’ brands. Valuable information, that.

And, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if right about now, you're all coming to the same conclusion.

That as our industry continues to transition from impression-based marketing models to involvement-based marketing models, you’re job will need to transition as well.

You see, it's no longer about creating ads.

It's about creating time-spent.

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