Friday, September 03, 2010

Why Relevance Alone Isn’t Enough

A lot of experts in the ad biz are touting “relevance” as the panacea to digital advertising. By following what people watch and do both online and on video on demand, these experts claim they can start to determine our likes and dislikes and then deliver ads that are much more relevant to each of us.

These experts are probably going to dismiss the report out of Lightspeed Research this week that said that 62% of people find ads on video on demand to be intrusive. And, that 95% said that they think they should be able to skip ads when watching content online.

One such expert said that the fact that consumers find ads intrusive represents an “exciting “opportunity for advertisers.

I don’t know if “exciting” is exactly the word I would use to describe such an opportunity.

The opportunity it does offer the experts is to actually hear what people are saying. And what people are saying is that the problem with advertising isn’t just lack of relevance. The problem with advertising is that it intrudes on what people actually want to watch and do.

The experts argue that by making it relevant, it will no longer be considered intrusive.

I don’t think so.

What intrusion means is that an ad gets between me and what I actually want to watch, when I want to watch it. I don’t want to wait thirty seconds, or longer, to get back to my program. That’s intrusion.

The experts will counter that if we don’t make the ads intrusive, people won’t bother to watch them.

I don’t know about that either.

They’re right in that not everybody will click in to watch every ad. Only those that are interested in the benefit the product offers will click in.

Relevance, if it is going to work, needs to be determined by the viewer, not the media buyer.

Once the viewer does click in, then view duration becomes the critical factor. The longer the viewer stays with the commercial, the greater the chance to sell that person something.

The problem is that the ad industry continues to base success on impressions rather than view duration.

If an advertiser is going for impressions, then intrusion is necessary.

If, on the other hand, the advertiser is basing success on overall time spent with the brand's advertising, then view duration becomes the criteria by which success is measured.

Here’s an example:

An advertiser runs a 60-second spot in an intrusive fashion in front of 100,000 viewers. Let’s say the average time spent with the spot is five seconds. Total time spent with the brand from 100,000 viewers is 500,000 seconds.

Now, let’s say the same advertiser runs the same 60-second spot in front of the same 100,000 viewers, but this time the viewers need to choose to watch the spot by clicking-in. Let’s say that 10% of the audience is interested in what the brand or product might offer and clicks in to find out more. But because each of these viewers is interested in the product, let’s say the average time spent with the ad is 50 seconds.

Total time spent with the messaging – 500,000 seconds.

While total time spent in both instances is the same, I would have to believe that the second approach would lead to more sales in the marketplace.

As intrusion becomes more of an issue, advertisers will need to find another way to measure success outside of impressions.

As we have said for some time now, it’s no longer share of voice that leads to share market. In the digital marketplace, it’s share of time that leads to share of mind.

And share of mind is what ultimately leads to share of market

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