Got a Second?
In our consumer lives, things are pretty much the same. Our attention spans are under constant threat, bombarded by more than 5,000 advertising messages every day. Many marketers (myself included) believe we are now competing for share of attention.
Given this crazed environment, it is surprising that we still see the communications landscape dominated by 30-second television commercials. In a world where the empowered consumer is that much more selective in how they consume media, we might want to consider injecting duration into the mix.
I'd like to touch on a few potential time-centric scenarios:
1. - Proof of view 2.
2. - Time based optimization 3.
3. - The 3,000-second commercial 4.
4. - Commercials frozen in time
At the end of the cluttered day, advertisers would like to be able to determine if their intended audience actually saw or heard their ad. If this question is not on your radar right now, watch out because it's going to be sooner than you think. Advertisers are going to demand proof of view, especially when they're able to measure it.
In television: How much of your commercial was viewed before the viewer hit the remote? Which genre of programming results in the most number of completed commercials?
Online: How many seconds of your ad were completed before the user hit the skip intro or close ad buttons?
And on a general level, how much time does a typical user need to spend on a page before noticing a banner?
Proof of view, at the very minimum, is going to be the ante up in order to play the game of attention. And technology can help us learn what it's going to take in order to be successful at getting an audience with our audience.
Time-based optimization is predicated on the hypothesis that the more time consumers spend viewing or interacting with an ad, as well as the actions that immediately follow the ad, the more likely they are to respond favorably.
Take online as a prime example: 3rd party ad servers like Zedo are now giving us the ability to determine how long an ad was visible before resulting in some kind of action. This gives us new ways to craft our messaging or select sites that prompt a longer view per page. Secondly, larger ads such as the CNet units (or IMU's) have allowed us to engage our target audience for much more than 30 seconds.
By better understanding how and how long consumers spend with our advertising, we have a wealth of opportunities to communicate the right messages to the right audience using the right times.
Why should we limit our commercials to a canned and predictable 30 seconds? The 3-second, 300-second or even 3,000-second commercial are all distinct possibilities when we introduce time into the equation. Whilst an hour-long ad might be a little far-fetched, if we supplement the time spent interacting with the ad with the time spent at the destination-site post-click, it doesn't seem that unrealistic anymore. This is a considerable evolution from the see-click-purchase methodology we've been using to date. Introducing time as a contributing factor towards ROI is smart, savvy and progressive.
If you've been following my weekly commentary, you know that the word TiVo pops up from time to time, and whilst TiVo represents a major threat to traditional advertisers, it also offers a whole host of mouth-watering options to innovative marketers.
iTV injects interactivity into the passive 30-second commercial - it even allows the viewer the chance to spend more time within the ad environment, but is constrained by the time allocated to the commercial break (after which inroads into programming would result.) However, this is forever changed when the ability to pause live TV is introduced into the frame. Commercials frozen in time would allow the viewer to spend as much time as they want to receive as much value as they need from the advertiser.
How many of these scenarios are likely to be realized? Hopefully all of them if we stop hiding behind the way things used to work and aggressively work towards meeting the consumer on their terms, addressing their most precious commodity - time, and rewarding their most precious resource - attention.
- Joseph Jaffe is Director of Interactive Media at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, where he works with clients including Kmart, ABSOLUT Vodka, New York City Public Schools, Embassy Suites and Sci-Fi. His primary focus is to highlight interactive's value and benefit in meeting his clients' integrated business and branding objectives.