Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If The IAB Wants To Improve Creative Online, They Need To Change Their Definition Of Performance

The head of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Randall Rothenberg, told a group of Wall Street investors on Monday, that his organization is going to push to promote the creative potential for online advertising.

One way to achieve this, according to Rothenberg, is to stop the slide toward a “performance-based” Internet advertising economy.

Which is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done.

The online marketplace is all about performance. After all, everything that happens online can be measured. If a marketing manager is not using the data at hand, he is doing his/her brand a disservice.

The amount of data available from the online marketplace is unprecedented. Yet, our definition of a commercial’s "performance" is still, traditional, at best.

Which, I would argue, makes it antiquated. And therein lies the problem.

Reach and frequency used to be the lynch pins upon which all advertising was bought and sold. After all, that’s all we had.

But as the depth of an impression can now be measured through view-duration metrics, we are no longer constrained by reach and frequency.

As the argument continues over the best definition of engagement, no one seems to be arguing with the fact that more engagement with a brand’s advertising is better than less.

And since engagement takes place over some period of time, one can use the measurement of time spent as a proxy for engagement.

Or, I would argue, as a proxy for performance.

Agencies used to tell their clients that the objective of any advertising was a greater share of market. And the best way to increase share of market was to increase share of mind.

Share of mind came through reach and frequency.

But now that we can measure the time one spends with a brand’s advertising, one could argue that share of time will lead to an increase in share of mind.

Which ultimately leads to share of market.

If Mr. Rothenberg would start to position online as less of a reach platform and more of a relationship platform, he would better be able to sell the value of time.

Relationships, after all, take time to develop.

By measuring the time spent with a brand’s messaging, the depth of the relationship can start to be determined.

As can the performance of the advertising.

Which is why I believe that the creative renaissance that will, and must occur in online advertising, can only happen by being performance-based.

We just need to change our definition of performance from how many saw the advertising, to how long were they involved with the advertising.

Granted, there’s not yet a direct correlation between time spent with a message and sales. Obviously, a lot depends on how the message is crafted.

That said, it is safe to assume that there is a direct correlation between time not spent with the message and a lack of sales.

After all, seldom do we buy from strangers.

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