Thursday, April 04, 2013

If Marshall McLuhan Were Alive Today


Oh, for the completed view.  The gold standard.  The Holy Grail.  The thing that every advertiser wants and what every media platform is trying to sell.

Only one problem.  Outside of a forced view, the media platform has nothing to do with whether a view is completed or not. 

The responsibility for that lies with the message.

John R. Osborn, a very smart man, wrote about how advertisers should pay for completed views rather than impressions.  Mr Osborn is right about that.  After all, a completed view is more valuable to an advertiser than impression.

But the only way a publisher can guarantee completed views is by offering forced views.  Which we know are intrusive in nature.  And, disliked by viewers.  Many leave the content they came for if forced to watch a commercial beforehand.  Others, busy themselves with email until the commercial is over. 

In many ways, a forced view is no better than in impression.  We have no idea if anyone actually watched or not.

The only way to truly know if anyone watches a commercial is to allow the viewer to initiate the interaction with the commercial. 

When a viewer presses “play” we know an interaction has started.  When they press “stop,” or leave the commercial, we know the interaction has ended.

The way I look at the difference between media and message on the digital platform is as follows:

            Media is what happens outside of the video.
            Message is what happens inside the video. 

Once a viewer presses play, they've gone inside the video, which means at that point, responsibility for a completed view lies with the message.  Not the media.

I don’t know of many media platforms that would disagree with this.  Once a viewer gets “inside” the video, media platforms will tell you it’s out of their control.

Media used to be defined as an opportunity to see a message.  On the digital platform, it’s not only an opportunity to see a message, but to engage with the message.

Call it Opportunity Per Engagement, or OPE.

Then call how long someone decides to stay engaged with the message Engagement Per Opportunity, or EPO.

If the message is 60 seconds, the OPE is 60.  If a viewer chooses to watch 45 out of 60 seconds, the EPO is 45.

The higher the EPO, the greater the opportunity for persuasion to occur.  Which is why the job of the message is to make the EPO equal the OPE.

If the view is not forced, if the viewer can opt-in and out of a commercial with ease, then the viewer is in control of EPO.  Which makes the viewer in control of whether a view is completed or not.

This is a direct result of the message.  Not the media.

Everyone these days seems to leave the message itself out of any discussions of media effectiveness.

With the viewer in control, that no longer works.

According to Marshall McLuhan the medium is the message.  I think if Mr McLuhan were still with us today, he might amend his famous adage by adding another line.

The medium is the message.  Until, the viewer is in control.

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