My Short Engagement Span
The difference between me and the person online advertisers want me to become is that I don’t want to become engaged.
I will admit, it happens anyway, but for dumb reasons. For marketers, that’s probably A-OK. Anything to get you in the door.
I like a good commercial or video gimmick as much as the next guy and I’ve even sent on a few to friends, usually for products I don’t use. (I also like bad commercials because I have to wonder what in the world sold the advertiser on a horrible spot.)
I rarely watch the pre-roll—I can talk to a person during that time. I cheered when I saw the study that says people won’t wait more than two seconds for the pre-roll develop before leaving altogether . It was as if somebody was watching me, and as you know, somebody was/is.
On some sites, I am asked as the commercial airs, “Is this ad relevant to you?” Well, wouldn’t you like to know? And while we’re at it, why don’t you know? I exist, therefore I have cookies.
I should say that for this blog, I watch a lot of video, a lot of advertising. A lot of it is very good, truly engaging, sometimes clever, sometimes brilliant. I also sense that a certain strain of online video advertising is being produced to be enjoyed only by other people in the business.
A New York Times essay in November attacked the smug-irony approach that the author argues pervades everything part of contemporary live, particularly advertsing. “Take, for example, an ad that calls itself an ad, makes fun of its own format, and attempts to lure its target market to laugh at and with it,” the essayist writes. “It pre-emptively acknowledges its own failure to accomplish anything meaningful. No attack can be set against it, as it has already conquered itself. The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism.”
There’s a lot of that going around. The ad is engaging. But then again, it’s not. Very. The ad is so pre-occupied with its own sense of unimportance, I guess I feel the same way.
I think I understand my role in the online video eco-system. Ads for online videos, or online videos that are ads, drive the economy, help advertisers and businesses, and I’m sure someone would tell me, it somehow makes my cable/phone/Internet high speed access monthly bill less expensive. Since I’m paying nearly $200 a month I find that hard to believe.
I accept advertising and I accept cookies but I don’t feel like helping beyond all the ways I am already. I will not tell you I “like” your ad, nor follow you on Facebook, which I think is reserved mainly for old college chums.
So once again this year, I will not be submitting a Doritos commercial to be considered for the Super Bowl. They don’t need me. The salted snack business, dominated by Frito-Lay (which makes Doritos) has annual revenues of around $22 billion a year. Doritos owns the tortilla market with maybe $1 billion a year in sales.
Why would anyone want to enter the contest to produce a winning Dorito contest? Well, most people wouldn’t be interested. But millions of people will anticipate who will win the contest (there are now five finalists, and there will be two winners) and will watch the commercial during the Super Bowl, in an extra special way. They will be engaged, no doubt about it, and me with them.
Then I’ll go on. Engagement over! Thank you, Frito-Lay for spending over $4 million to show us those ads. See you next year. It was, um, engaging.