Commentary

The Quad-force: Person, Place, Time & Content

I can't tell you how many times I've heard industry professionals lament about their technology ads reaching "the right people, in the right places at the right time."

These professionals love to reference Wanamaker and how his sentiment is a thing of the past. They say things like, "With all this real-time targeting these days, how can a marketer possibly waste any of their advertising dollars?"

Since I'm an agreeable guy, I try not to rain on peoples' parades when talking to them casually in person. That said, this column seems like an appropriate forum to look at the targeting tri-force of right-person right-place right-time and tell you exactly how waste can occur.

Waste occurs when you reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with the wrong content.

If you've read one of my columns, you know I produce branded, Webisodic content, so without rehashing the benefits of using engaging, original video, I'll limit this discussion to some things marketers should specifically consider when targeting an audience with video content:

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Roll out new experiences regularly. Unlike ad messages, which tend to be short and too often forgettable (hence the need for frequency), content can be longer, dynamic and interest-based. When you tap into people's interests, you also tend to become more memorable. Because of this, you can't hit people over the head again and again with the same video and expect they'll give you their attention repeatedly. Rather than attempting to make a one-time splash with a huge viral hit, produce a series of videos that are related but unique. This avoids creative burnout.

Note how members of the audience interact. Video is attention-grabbing, but there's a lot more opportunity than just grabbing attention, especially if you database your users. When distributing content, make sure you enlist a technology that can database how long different users engage with the content and when each user rewound, clicked-through, paused or dropped off during each video. Not only is this data great for improving the quality of the content and proving engagement, but you can actually retarget these users in the future with content and interactivity you know they've found appealing.

Engage sequentially. When you have a series of videos that are released on a definitive, regular schedule, and can identify which users like which types of content, one more thing you need to do is employ sequencing. If users saw video 1 and engaged with it (whether they watched the whole thing or dis-engaged after only 30 seconds), the next time those users come along, it benefits you and them to make sure video 2 is automatically the most prominent. If users liked the content the first time, they'll surely want the next installment; if they didn't like the first piece, at least you know you're not trying to attract them again with a message they've told you they're not interested in.

Respect existing targeting technologies. Targeting solutions like behavioral, contextual and temporal are the "right person," "right place," "right time" staples of our industry. Like advertising, they should absolutely be considered and employed to get your content in front of the right people and give it the best opportunity to be viewed.

So in conclusion, when targeting users and building relationships with them, content is a key component of the equation -- and it comes with a host of strategies that need to be considered. The targeting tri-force thus becomes a quad-force, and (as has become customary,) makes marketing in the digital era even more complicated. But for the savvy marketer who masters these technologies, the spoils are that much greater.

3 comments about "The Quad-force: Person, Place, Time & Content ".
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  1. Scott Cone from 247 Ventures, Inc, February 25, 2009 at 1:43 p.m.

    Great post and points Chris. It boggles the mind that any marketers could actually cling to the notion that using the interruptive creative approach from the last centuries marketing model could have any possible relevance for the new consumer-centric realities. Content, is after all, king.

  2. Lisa Trager from Pictures In Motion, February 25, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.

    Thanks Chris, as users become more sophisticated and the definition of "content" continues to expand, finding ways to target users and increase traffic becomes more dependent upon metrics, analysis, and behavioral targeting. BTW, the points you bring up in this article are just the ones I address when explaining to prospects the importance of using a Content Strategist, my specialty. Feel free to contact me. lisa-at-picturesinmotion-dot-net.

  3. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, February 25, 2009 at 9:02 p.m.

    Content is king (and queen), but if they are in charge of a tiny country, no one will know they are there. Lichtenstein for example. Great country but no one know about it :)

    My point is distribution. If you have great content and no way to get it out in the wild and seen by large volumes of eyeballs, you are out of luck. Lisa and Scott are 100% correct, but without access to lots of viewers, content begins to lose importance.

    109 million unique users is an impressive number (taken from DBG's website). Even a fraction of that is the kind of user volume that is needed to get online video to be viewed favorably by clients. Most content simply never gets that many eyeballs. Therein lies the largest part of the challenge facing online video - getting it distributed across enough of the web, that a large mass of viewers are able to see it in the time frame required by the project.

    Easier said than done.
    Jeff Bach

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