Monday, March 28, 2011

From Impression-Based Distribution to Intent-Based Distribution

Up to now, advertising has been driven by the intent of the advertisers.

They wanted you to watch a commercial at 8:17 on a Sunday so that’s when they bought the time. Whether you actually watched or not wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was whether or not your TV was tuned to that particular channel at that particular time.

If it was, you were counted as an impression.

It was pretty easy actually. Advertiser’s knew what a program’s ratings were and bought a certain size audience. They didn’t really know whether anyone watched their commercials or not.

It didn't really matter.

Impressions gave the impression of success. So impressions are what mattered.

Now we’re into intent-based distribution. But the intent that matters now is no longer the advertiser’s. It’s the viewer's.

The viewer decides whether to click in to watch a commercial or not.

Obviously, the number that click in to watch a commercial is much smaller than the number that are exposed to it.

This low number is very upsetting to advertisers. That’s why they keep buying impressions.

But the problem isn't that impression-based distribution (high numbers) is good and intent-based distribution (low numbers) is bad.

The problem is that intent can’t be measure as how many. It needs to be measured as how long. Once someone clicks in to watch your commercial, how long did they watch it for?

All of it? 50%? 10%?

Is there a direct correlation between length of view and sales? Don’t know. But logic would seem to indicate such, wouldn't it? After all, viewing is driven by the viewer's intent rather than the advertiser's.

The reason that intent-based distribution hasn’t caught on is because we keep measuring it as how many.

The way intent scales is through how long.

If we measured it right, its intent would be clear.

As would the viewer's.

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