The Virtual Two-Way Relationship

Effective selling is often about building relationships. Consumers who feel as if an advertiser is tuned in to them are more inclined to give that advertiser business. Television, despite its long relationship with America, represents a one-sided relationship. Viewers watch and listen with no ability to affect the relationship. The Internet, however, has the ability to create two-way relationships. Interaction plays a large role in building that perception. Utilizing creative Web-specific video, advertisers can build a virtual two-way relationship with viewers.

Despite the exponential growth of online video advertising in the marketing mix, advertisers are not putting as much emphasis on creating Web-specific ads that make the most of this environment. Most want to avoid the additional cost or effort of creating new ads, so they simply repurpose their existing television commercials. These repurposed spots still deliver the message and branding, but overlook the larger impact of ads designed specifically for the Internet.

Forward-thinking marketers realize that this environment fosters a different relationship with users, and they build their creative executions with that interaction in mind. Internet users who are likely to engage with ads want to see something unique. They want to be privy to special content. and in control of their advertising experience.

In studies that compared two ad units for the same product, our research department found that Web-specific content had three times higher interaction rates than repurposed TV spots.

One of the most powerful ways that marketers can create the perception of two-way relationships with users is through celebrity spokespeople interacting with users based on their actions within an ad unit. In one campaign, Tiger Woods comments on the putting skills of users as they play golf in a video game ad unit. In another, Vin Diesel speaks to viewers, noting which areas of the ad they should click on to learn more about his movie. The value of a celebrity spokesperson is enhanced by these types of virtual interactions.

Designing Web-oriented content around the Web pages it will run on is another effective strategy. For example, one advertisement for a music page allowed users to download a Web-specific song about a product and mix the song according to their own preferences. An option like that was clearly designed for Web users, who would be attracted to such a nontraditional opportunity.

People who regularly use the Internet appreciate its differences from TV. They enjoy the interaction and opportunities that exist on the Web that are not available in the one-sided relationship with television. Marketers who embrace the opportunity to reaffirm that two-way connection will build stronger customer engagement and reap its benefits.

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