Thursday, March 12, 2009

As Media Fragments, Should Brands Follow Suit?

It's become obvious that no matter how hard we try to re-aggregate viewing audiences, fragmentation will continue.

So, as the old saying goes, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Which is why maybe it's time that brands start to fragment as well.

I wish I was the one that came up with this idea, but I'm not. That honor goes to David Armano, vice-president of experience design at Critical Mass.

On the surface, it makes sense. When one digs deeper, it makes even more sense. Many brands sell the same product across multiple age groups. But how that brand entices 18-24 year-olds to use the product versus 35-49 year-olds, should vary greatly.

In the past, media wasn't fragmented enough to warrant completely different executions with any degree of efficiency. That has obviously changed.

The largest problem that most advertisers will face in moving in this direction is in trying to find a way to underwrite all the new production of commercials that will be needed.

Traditionally, the cost of commercial creation and production was justified by the number of people who would have the chance to see the commercial. As advertisers start to realize what will be needed to be effective in this world of fragmentation (i.e. smaller audiences size), they're going to have discover a new metric to justify the production of multiple messages.

Our belief is that instead of how many have the chance to see the commercial, the metric of choice will be how long people watch the commercial for.

The reasoning is quite basic. If an advertiser pays to have thirty seconds or sixty seconds produced, they will want all thirty or sixty seconds consumed by the viewer. If only ten seconds are consumed, why should advertisers be forced to pay full-fare for the seconds not consumed?

In other words, paying for commercial creation based on time-spent with the commercial offers advertisers the option of paying for outcome rather than effort.

I still get those who argue that time-spent is a worthless metric. My response is that advertisers are already paying for time-spent with the commercial. It's just that now they are paying for the time that the agency spends in creating the commercial.

When advertisers find out that they have an option of paying for either the time spent working on the commercial, or the time the viewer spends watching it, well, the argument quickly comes to a close.

Paying based on viewer time-spent is now a viable option. As is the case for fragmenting brands. It doesn't mean that all advertisers will move down this path immediately.

The industry has always consisted of leaders and followers.

The question is, which are you?

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