Monday, April 15, 2013

Does Relevance Trump Irrelevance?


There is a belief in the ad world that by targeting the audience more precisely, consumers will be more open to intrusive advertising.

The thinking is that the advertisement will be deemed less intrusive if it is something that I’m interested in.

It's this kind of thinking that forces me sit through a :30 pre-roll before watching the content I really want to see.

This thinking is flawed in two ways.

The first is that because I may have gone to a men’s clothing retailer’s website in the last week, then before I watch a clip about the winning putt at the Masters, I would like to sit through a commercial about suits.

No, I wouldn’t.

I want to see a putt.  My mind’s on golf.  Not suits. 

I could understand a suit commercial being served to me if I were about to watch a video about how a well-made suit is constructed.  Because then, my mind is on suits.

But, that’s not what I get.

The second reason that more precise targeting doesn’t make intrusive advertising more palatable is because it’s the intrusion, not the commercial, that’s the problem.

Making a commercial more relevant doesn’t make the intrusion irrelevant.

That's because the mind looks at the two things—intrusion and commercial—as separate and not equal.

When people fast-forward through commercials on a DVR, they’re not skipping the commercials because they’re commercials.  They’re skipping the commercials because they’re interruptions.

We are now in an opt-in culture.  What we need to do is allow people to opt-in to what they are interested in.

Occasionally, that will be a commercial.  If that commercial is interesting.

Howard Gossage said it best many years ago.  “People don’t read advertising.  People read what interests them.  And sometimes, that happens to be an ad.”

Change "read" to "watch" and the same truth holds.

Interesting beats intrusive.

Because interesting’s always relevant.

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