Monday, May 13, 2013

Interruptions Or Advertising – Which Are Consumers Actually Avoiding?


This blog has long held the belief that it’s not advertising that people are avoiding but rather interruptions to their programming.

These interruptions just happen to be advertising.

HitBliss, a new service that is now in beta, seems to agree.   What HitBliss is trying to do is eliminate interruptions during the program.  They do this by inviting the viewer to choose the category and commercial they want to watch before the program even starts.

Watching the commercial earns the viewer points, which can then be used to pay for future programming.

HitBliss claims that this method of viewing ads increases attention to the commercial.  Perhaps this is also due to the fact that the viewer is given prompts while the commercial plays.  These prompts must be answered by the viewer to prove that they are indeed watching the commercial (and not checking their email).

Once answering the prompts, the program plays commercial free.

Okay, HitBliss, I’m with you that consumers are trying to avoid interruptions to their programming.  But it seems to me that all you’ve really done is move the interruption to the start of the viewing process. 

Which means, the process is still intrusive.  But instead of multiple intrusions throughout a thirty-minute program, there is just one longer intrusion at the front.

I guess the logic is that one interruption is better than five or six interruptions.

But what if we went with no interruptions at all?  Wouldn't that be the holy grail?

In other words, what if all advertising was opt-in only?

The first response when I ask this question is usually, c’mon, who would actually opt-in to watch a commercial?  Well, those who are interested in that product category, or brand, for starters. 

And, while that number is probably larger than most people would imagine, it’s not nearly large enough to deliver the scale needed to maintain the current media model based on impressions.

So, if opt-in impressions won’t scale, what will?

What’s interesting is that when people opt-in to a commercial, they prefer commercials that are longer rather than shorter.  After all, they’re in control.  They can leave when the commercial is no longer of interest to them.  

So, while advertisers would get fewer people opting-in to any particular commercial, they have the opportunity to get more of that person’s time when they do opt in.

With opt-in, what scales isn’t how many, but rather, how long.

If thirty people watch a thirty-second commercial for one second each, the amount of time spent with that brand is the same as if one person watches all thirty seconds of that same commercial.

And, the chance of selling that one person will be greater than the chance of selling any of the first thirty.

As for publishers, can they work with this new currency of time spent? 

Certainly.

Publishers sell data.  An impression is one piece of data.  A viewed second is one piece of data.  For a thirty-second spot, publishers should be selling thirty pieces of data. 

Not just one.

As viewing audiences get smaller, what scales is viewer time spent, not viewers.

We can keep changing where the interruption occurs and claim victory.  But until we eliminate interruptions altogether, victory will not be ours.

To succeed, we first need to change our definition of success from how many to how long.

Because in the future, we need to learn how to make more, by talking to less.

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