Friday, April 22, 2011

Is Letting People Choose Which Ad To Watch The Secret To Success?

In an article posted today, Brian Shin, CEO and founder of Visible Measures postulates that if publishers let viewers choose which ad to watch, the advertising will work better for the advertiser.

Allowing choice, according to Mr. Shin, lifts brand metrics between 300 and 450 percent.

Those are not numbers to sneer at.

Mr. Shin’s company, Visible Measures, of which I’m a big fan, measures things like how many choose to watch which advertisement. While Mr. Shin doesn’t come right out and say that advertisers should abandon forced views, he suggests that this is where it is heading.

One problem.

The advertising industry is built on scale. Allowing viewers to choose the commercial they want to watch, punctures a hole in the myth called impressions.

After all, what Mr. Shin is saying is what Matt Freeman said a few years back. “Is an impression still an impression if it doesn’t make one?”

In other words, should a commercial be counted as making an impression if we know no one watched it? And, if we only count those commercials that people opt-in to watch, well, then we'll know whether it made an impression or not, won't we?

What Mr. Shin needs to find to make this model work is a new definition of scale. This is easier done than he probably thinks it is. Visible Measures already measures view duration. What scales when fewer people opt-in, is the length of time they’re involved with the message.

How many is replaced with how long.

If Mr. Shin is right, and opt-in becomes the norm, then what will become most important to advertisers will not be how many impressions a $5M media buy procures for them. What they will want to know is how much involvement that same $5M delivered.

Mr. Shin’s company can deliver that information.

Paying for involvement, rather than impressions, is what will lead to a creative renaissance.

For that reason alone, I hope that Mr. Shin is right.

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