Friday, June 20, 2008

When Everyone Says It Won't Work, It Probably Will

I’ve received quite a few responses to my latest post. Most we’re from people who were nice enough to inform me why basing part of the cost of a second of production on viewer time-spent would never work.

In most cases, the reasons why it will not work were familiar. Here are a few examples.

“Paying for work based on time-viewed misses the point – we’re here to sell the client’s products, not win creative awards.”

“Unless you can prove a direct correlation between time-viewed and increased awareness and sales, this proposition has no relevance.”

“If revenues depended on seconds watched, would creative agencies take on boring products?”

“Sales may rise just because there is more exposure than previously. To base compensation upon percentage of time-viewed is a delicate balance in which many agencies will decline business.”

“As a brand manager, seconds watched is not the main metric I would ever use to judge my return on investment and I am afraid that this new metric would cause production houses to focus on clever ways to get people to watch ads, when in fact they should be focused on clever ways to get customers to buy products.”

“No matter how clever the advertising is, I find it hard to believe that a viewer will watch many seconds about it, no matter how clever they get.”

I’m not going to answer each of these responses individually. But I will answer one question that comes up frequently. Is there a direct correlation between time-spent and sales?

And the answer is no. The only direct correlation that we have in regards to time-spent and sales is that if time is not spent, sales do not occur.

In my opinion, the correlation that we should be trying to make is not between time-spent and sales, but between time-spent and time paid for. The fact remains, a second of production costs money. Was that second used? Or, not. Were these seconds wasted? Or, not.

Do you, as a marketer, want to pay as much for non-used seconds as used seconds?

In other words, in production, there is a cost incurred. You purchased a certain amount of seconds to be produced, under the promise from your agency that they will be watched. If they aren’t watched, did your agency break their promise?

In the past, sales were the only measure of a commercial’s effectiveness. But today, digital data offers tremendous insights as to what is actually happening within the commercial itself, second-by-second.

I’m not saying sales aren’t important. In fact, I believe agencies should be retained or fired based on overall marketing ROI. But each individual commercial can now also has it’s own ROI (Return on Involvement).

If you pay to have 30 seconds watched, make sure that you’re getting what you paid for.

Or, pay differently.

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