Friday, April 10, 2009

The Difference Between Time Spent With A Commercial And Time Spent With A Web Site

Bob Kraut, VP-marketing communications at Pizza Hut, hit it right on the head when he said, "It's not about stickines on our website, it's about slipperiness." Bob was on a panel at the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York this week.

"We want people to come in and out as fast as they can because they know what they want and we want to give it to them in the minimum amount of time."

Couldn't agree more with Mr. Kraut.

But how can that be, I've been asked all week? You're always arguing that the more time spent the better.

True.

Which is why I thought I should address the issue here.

I've never been a supporter of time spent on a website, only commecials. That's because websites, unlike commercials, aren't created to exist in a certain amount of time. A website is created in multiple layers so that visitors to the site can choose how much time they want to spend. If they're just looking for a phone number, ten seconds is great, objective achieved, over and out.

Then again, if they want to study the company's twenty-year history, more time will be required.

A website is not constructed around a finite amount of time. Commercials, on the other hand, are.

For the most part, commercials are fifteen, thirty or sixty seconds. And while those time restraints may change in the future—becoming both longer and shorter—there will always be a beginning and an end to a commercial. This is time created and paid for.

This paid for part is why I think time spent with a commercial is important. There is a production budget involved which varies depending on the length of the commercial. In general, the longer the commercial, the more it costs.

An advertiser's immediate return on production dollars is to have those that the commercial was targeted to, watch it. And, preferably, all of it.

But what if the viewer got all they wanted out of the commercial in the first five seconds? Could happen, I suppose.

But if that's the case, then I'd suggest creating five second spots and saving some production dollars.

The best commercials are stories. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. If advertising's function is still the art of persuading people to think better about a brand, then the story will work better, and be more persuasvie, when seen from beginning to end.

If the agency thinks that they can tell the story in five seconds, then that's what they should do.

But, if they charge the advertiser for thirty or sixty seconds worth of production, then they should be held accountable for how well they involve, entertain, intrique or, in some other way, seduce the viewer into staying for the length of the spot.

This offers the advertiser a better return on investment for prodution dollars spent. Not to mention, increasing the chances for a sale.

When there are time parameters around a piece of creative, then, yes, delivering the time promised, and paid for, is something that agencies should be held accountable for on the digital platform.

Commercials have time parameters.

Websites do not.

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