Monday, October 27, 2014

Whose Time Is It Anyways?

As always, Joe Mandese wrote a thoughtful piece on Sunday.

The topic of the piece was time, and how time has been bought in the advertising business and what time actually is. 

As we all know, we’re not really buying time.  What we’re actually buying is an “opportunity to see”.

Up until now, there was little proof whether the opportunity turned into something more or not.  Digital data changes that.

And, as the data changes, so do the ways in which we try to “guarantee” that time was actually spent with the message.  Forced views are something we are all familiar with and something we all hate.  When forced to watch a commercial before we see the content, we’re busy checking emails until the thirty seconds are over.

Recently a new version of forced views has started to become popular.  This new method allows the viewer to choose which commercial he is forced to watch.   

Pepsi or Ford?  

Nike or P&G?

Firing squad or guillotine?

The thinking is that if the consumer chooses, they will be more open to watching.  And who knows, there may be a smidgen of truth to that.

But here’s the rub.

In all the talk about time, we never stop to ask, whose time are we talking about?  It’s assumed that it’s the advertiser’s time; after all, they produced the thirty seconds.  Or, it’s the publisher’s time as they’re the ones who are selling it.

Both are true.

And both are wrong.

Because to the viewer, it’s their time.

And, guess what?  We can’t buy it.  We can try to force them to watch through technological manipulation, but that’s like trying to force a kid to go to church. 

Yeah, they’re there. 

But they’re not really there.

They only way to get someone to spend time and engage with your commercial is to earn it.

Viewers choose to engage.  Or, not.

But, engagement is their choice.

Once we start thinking of it as the viewer’s time and not ours, the way we go about procuring it changes. 

In Joe’s wonderful article on the history of buying time, exactly whose time it is we’re talking about was never mentioned.


Because once we admit it's not our to buy, we can't help but conclude, it's not ours to sell.

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