Wednesday, July 23, 2008

EPO Hits Advertising

If you’ve been following the Tour de France, you know about the EPO scandal. EPO is a performance-booster that riders are taking to enable them ride stronger, longer.

In the world of advertising, EPO is starting to take on a meaning all its own - Engagement Per Opportunity. Every time an advertiser runs a commercial, that commercial registers a certain EPO. If it's a thirty-second spot, the maximum EPO would be thirty seconds. For a sixty-second spot, the maximum EPO would be sixty seconds.

Unlike the riders on the Tour, advertisers are looking for a high EPO from those that click-in to watch their ads. A low EPO means that the advertising wasn’t very involving.

In other words, a lost opportunity.

The question that’s now starting to be asked is who’s responsible for EPO? Is it the platform on which the advertising runs? Or, the programming content, which the advertising is running alongside or in? Or, a third option, the agency that created the advertising?

It is my contention that the platform is only accountable for offering viewers the opportunity to click-in to the advertising. In other words, the platform gives the viewer control. But by no means are platforms responsible for how long the advertising engages those that decide to click-in.

The programming content makes sure that those who might be interested in the advertising message are there in sufficient numbers to click-in to the advertising. But they, too, are not responsible for how long the advertising engages the viewer.

Which leaves only the agency that created the advertising responsible for EPO.

You can’t really measure the EPO of advertising that intrudes – pre-roll or in-stream. EPO can only be accurately measured with advertising that viewers can start when they want. And, stop when they want.

Maybe some day the ad industry will be able to measure the EPO of intrusive advertising. That could happen now if viewers were allowed to fast-forward or opt-out of intrusive advertising. But, in most instances, that just isn’t the case.

The reason is simple and well known by those that sell advertising space. The EPO of intrusive advertising would be quite low if viewers were allowed to leave when they wanted. Which in turn would make selling that space more difficult.

Of course, forced-viewing does offer its own form of EPO, but it’s more along the lines of Entrapment Per Opportunity rather than Engagement Per Opportunity. Which, when you think about it, makes it a form of cheating, not unlike those caught using EPO on the Tour.

At least the Tour is saying, “Enough is enough,” and is diligently trying to clean up its act, before fans abandon the race forever.

Which is a lot more than we can say for the ad business.

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