Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Creative Take On Targeting Behavior

Behavioral targeting is used by publishers to help media agencies better select which advertisements to put in front of which people.

Makes perfect sense.

After all, it would be foolish not use measurable behavior to increase the efficiency of an ad campaign. My question is, why stop there? Why not use the viewer’s behavior once they start watching a commercial to also increase the efficiency of an ad campaign?

We can now measure the length of time that a viewer chooses to be engaged with a commercial. This view duration data is available from many different online sources. These sources provide this data—at no charge—to the media agencies, in an attempt to assist them in making future buys.

But is the media agency the right agency to be receiving this data? Or, should it be the creative agency?

What it comes down to is delineating who is responsible for bringing viewers to the message and who is responsible for involving viewers in the message. Before you answer that, keep in mind that whomever is responsible should also be held accountable. In other words, success or failure is their burden to bear.

With that definition, media agencies seldom claim that engagement is their bailiwick. Bringing people to the message, oh yes, that they are good at. But once a viewer decides to start watching, it is really out of the hands of the media in regards to how long a viewer watches for.

View duration, at least, in my opinion, is the responsibility of the creative agency. The longer an agency can get a viewer to watch a commercial, the greater the chance of making a sale sometime down the line.

The fact is, we currently build brands on digital platforms through reach and frequency optimization. But with the continued fragmentation of the viewing audience, reach and frequency numbers will continue to diminish. Which is why I feel that, down the road, the smart way to build brands on digital platforms will be through time-spent optimization.

If an advertiser wanted to, they could start to aggregate the amount of time that their agency persuades viewers to spend with their particular brands. As I’ve often said, time is finite. And the more time that an agency can get an individual to spend with one brand’s messaging, the less time that individual has to spend with the competitor’s advertising.

Granted, there have not been any studies that show a direct correlation between time-spent and sales. But doesn't it seem logical to expect that one will soon be discovered?

Once it is, the behavior we will all be most concerned about is what happens when an individual starts watching a particular commercial, rather than which commercial should run where.

Curiously enough, I have talked to a lot of the data providers to see if they would be willing to sell view-duration data directly to advertisers and/or their creative agencies. Many have said "no." They didn't have a good reason. It's just that they feel that since they are a deliverer of media, they need to deal with media agencies.

When do you think they will start understanding that they are a deliverer of data, not media?

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