Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Devil Is In The Data

To all of the behavioral targetists and addressable advertising solutionists, may I suggest one thing?


Stop making the viewing audience smaller and smaller. They're already fragmenting enough on their own due to infinite choice, control shifting to the viewer and multiple screen formats.

And now you're telling us that you can pinpoint a target that is male, makes over $300,000, has salt and pepper hair, owns two and a half dogs, one llama and lives in a ritzy zip code. I know, you're thinking that you'll be able to charge an arm and a leg to "reach" this person and just this person.


One problem.

The devil is in the data.

And the same data that lets you target ever more niche targets will also tell us if any of these niche targets actually pay any attention to the advertising that runs.

The theory, of course, is that advertisers will create specific advertising for these specific audiences. Nice. In theory.

Unfortunately, commercial creation is currently underwritten/justified by the number of people who might see it. When that number is small, so is the amount of production dollars put aside to create that commercial.

Which simply means that now that we can target this quality audience, advertisers will be hard pressed to create anything of quality to say to them.

"Well, we already have commercials that we can run," is the typical answer. And that's right. You do. But how many times are you going to run these commercials before the data comes back telling you that no one is watching them any longer?

Sooner, rather than later, you're going to have to create original content. And, then what?

Is Visible World an answer? On the retail front, maybe. For branding, no.

Now that we can target the specific audience that the advertiser wants, it's going to be difficult to justify creating emotionally engaging, original content for this audience.

Unless, of course, the advertisers start paying for the creation of commercials based on the data that says how long viewers are actually involved in the commercial. In other words, performance-based creative where the performance being measured is time spent with the commercial.

The fact is, there are two givens in the digital future. Smaller audiences. And more data than ever before about those audiences. If we want to justify the cost of creating commercials for these smaller, yet critical audiences, we need to find a way to use the new data to justify the cost of producing these new commercials.

Impressions will no longer cut it. But if advertisers start aggregating the actual time viewers spend with the message rather than the number of people who might be exposed to the message, then there is the chance to once again base cost of production on size.

Of course, this means that agencies will be held accountable for how well their creative work actually involves a viewer. A devil of deal for many agencies.

But for the handful that are truly creative, it's a chance for them to finally be paid based on how good they actually are.

And, for them, that should be heaven.

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