Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Does Share Of Time = Share Of Mind?

I found this to be a rather refreshing question when a large marketer asked it over lunch the other day. To be quite honest, I was quite surprised that he was even thinking along these lines. After all, it meant he was in a digital mind space rather than an analog mind space.

As the conversation continued, I asked him how he would define share of mind. He answered, “Share of mind is a measure of the breadth of a company’s market position, measured by media weight. The more you spend, the larger your share of mind.”

And then he added, “At least, in theory. ”

I thought this last line—at least, in theory—was quite revealing. Because up to now, share of mind was really more or less a hope based on a theory. The theory being that people actually watched and paid attention to the advertising that ran.

Or, in other words, that an exposure was synonymous with engagement. A theory that has been proven to be blatantly false through second-by-second, or time-spent digital data.

“Why aren’t more people measuring share of time?” my luncheon companion inquired.

It was a good question. And the most honest answer is because most in the business don’t really want to know. Not that they really have a choice, mind you. Second-by-second data is now being measured by Google, TNS, TiVo, ad neworks, online publishers and MSO’s.

The data is available.

And, for the most part, fear-invoking.

Because what the data reveals is that, when given the option, viewers skip over advertising that intrudes. The current advertising infrastructure has been built on an intrusive format. Up to now, while many have had their doubts as to advertising’s effectiveness, they have had little proof as to just how ineffective it actually is.

Digital data changes that.

If share of mind measures the breadth of a company’s market position, then share of time measures its depth. In other words, it tends to measure the true value of a commercial. If you take a look at the data, it’s not encouraging.

Oh, exposures are easy to come by. But, engagement? Hardly.

My marketing companion continued, “The way I see it, time-spent data is inevitable. And my personal secret to success is to try and make the inevitable, invaluable.”

I was liking this guy more and more. Maybe because he was offering me hope, albeit based on a theory.

The theory being that there are a few guiding lights who are starting to realize that it’s not advertising that people dislike, but rather, the way that advertising is currently marketed to them.

That, in fact, viewers are not skipping commercials as much as they are skipping interruptions.

And, if the industry found a way to allow viewers to come to advertising that interested them, on their own terms, that, they in fact, would.

Of course, in much smaller numbers. Which means that reach, or share of mind, would no longer be the only measurement of success. How many see the advertising would become less of a priority than how much time people spend with the advertising.

Is this a mindchange that many are hesitant to embrace? You bet.

Yet, what’s interesting is that by aggregating time-spent within messages, rather than exposures to messages, advertisers will soon discover that time-spent can also scale.

Which remains a pretty important word in anyone’s new media vocabulary.

Including the marketer I was having lunch with. Although he was looking at scale from an entirely different perspective.

You see, he was already drawing correlations between share of time and share of market. Wondering just how he can go about proving that the more time-spent an advertiser achieves, the more the scale tips to a sale.

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