Thursday, June 03, 2010

More On Why Digital Advertising Won’t Scale

If you don’t read Joe Marchese on a regular basis, you may want to start.

His column this week was on why digital advertising won’t scale. Joe’s been a harbinger of the lack of scale on the digital platform for some time now.

In his most recent column, Joe cites the lack of a standardization of an ad format as the reason for the lack of scale. Digital has not found its version of the :30 television spot.

This is true. And, as Joe indicates, perhaps a “standard” for digital will never be developed.

Another brilliant mind, Jeff Einstein, has a slightly different take on why the digital platform won’t scale.

He cites the micro-targeting now being done as one of the culprits. If advertising needs reach to successfully build brands, then micro-targeting seems to be leading us in the wrong direction.

Again, a fair point.

We agree with both Joe and Jeff. The digital platform won’t scale if we keep trying to scale the same thing - reach. And we agree that both lack of standardization and micro-targeting are problems.

But they are not problems that are going to go away. They “are” what now "is". So, the question becomes, how do we still create scale despite smaller audience size and lack of standardization?

The answer, of course, is to work with what is. As commercials are no longer standardized in length, they can run longer than 30 seconds. And since the audience can now be targeted more precisely, they should be more interested in what we have to say.

Which is why we say the new “metric” that is scalable on the digital platform is share of time, rather than share of voice. How long versus how many. How long did consumers spend with a brand’s messaging versus many were exposed to it.

Share of time is now measurable. When this wasn’t the case, we scaled what was measurable – reach.

But consider – a 30-second spot exposed to 1 million viewers offers a potential of 30 million seconds of time spent with the brand.

As audience size diminishes, we need to increase the length of potential time spent to deliver the same opportunity. A half million viewers exposed to a sixty-second spot, offers the same potential of 30 million seconds of time spent with the brand.

As audience size goes down, scale comes through time spent, not reach.

In other words, the digital platform does scale.

Just not the way we’re used to.

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