Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ignorance Is Now A Choice, Not An Excuse

I stole the headline from a piece written by Michael Schrage on June 25th of this year.

Mr. Schrage is referring to how effective, or wasteful, advertising actually is.  In his piece, he argues that creativity needs to be replaced by accountability.

I beg to differ.  I think that accountability is the new creativity.  And, the reason why goes back to the headline above.

What is the primary objective of any piece of video advertising?  No, not sales.  That would be a secondary objective.  The primary objective is that the commercial is watched.  Because only if the commercial is watched does it then have a chance to persuade.

Most advertisers would also like their thirty-second commercial to be watched for all thirty seconds.  After all, they’re paying for thirty seconds to be produced.  They’re buying thirty seconds of time.   Why wouldn’t they want all thirty seconds to be watched?

If the commercial could achieve what it needed to achieve – persuade someone why the product or service being advertised is better than another – in say 15 seconds, then they would have made a    15-second spot.

For some reason or another, the agency said they needed all thirty seconds.

If that is the case, then who is responsible for those thirty-seconds achieving the primary objective?

My argument is that it’s those who created it.

As Mr. Schrage mentions, today this primary objective is measurable.  Which means, accountable.

If the primary objective of creativity is to be watched, and today we know exactly how much of a commercial is watched and how much isn’t, then creativity’s objective can be measured.

And, be measured somewhat precisely.

Measurability and accountability are, to me, two sides of the same coin.

So, how does accountability equal the new creativity?  Simply because if you hold someone accountable, you need to give them control over what they are accountable for.

In other words, if advertisers want to hold their agencies accountable for time spent with the creative, then they need to let agencies actually create what they think will produce time spent.

Once advertisers and agencies agree on a strategy, then advertisers need to back off, letting agencies do what they do best.

I would recommend that advertisers hold their agencies accountable financially – the more of the spot that gets watched, the more agency makes – the opposite would also hold true – for the simple reason that then, both agency and advertiser are working towards the same goal.

The end result being that advertisers pay more for success and less for failure.

That’s accountability. 

Based on creativity.

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