Magic Moments, And Why Video-On-Demand Is A Lousy Bet

My friend Paul Dunn is a wise man. He is observant. He understands human nature. He “gets” people.

And this wisdom makes him brilliant at business. One of the concepts I learned from him is the concept of a “magic moment.” A magic moment is an opportunity to go above and beyond for a customer. It is a delightful surprise. It is what makes you say, “Wow.”

A magic moment occurs during the downtime of an ordinary transaction. Let’s say you own a fancy restaurant -- so fancy, in fact, that people tend to reserve a week or more in advance. Although the clock starts ticking on a customer’s relationship with you as soon as she makes the reservation, generally nothing else happens until she shows up to eat. That downtime between when you take the booking and when the customer walks through the door is an opportunity for a magic moment.

So what should be done during that downtime? How can you best take advantage of the magic moment? Here is where you really need to understand people, and here’s where Paul really starts to channel his inner Yoda.



You could call the customer and tell her how much you’re looking forward to having her dine with you. But imagine that you are the customer, in the midst of your busy week, perhaps at work or in a meeting or mediating a fight between the kids or at the opera. A phone call, Paul observes, is almost always an interruption.

Ah, but a text

A text is always welcome. The percentage of texts that get opened and read immediately is something ridiculous, somewhere in the ‘90s. A text is gentle. It puts the control in the hands of the recipient, rather than forcing a response at the moment it is sent.

“Hello, Mrs. Colbin. SO looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night. Chef has prepared some very special desserts for you as well!”

Thoughtful. Empathetic. Respectful of the recipient’s time. These are all areas in which text trumps telephone.

And these are all areas in which video-on-demand fails.

If you are watching broadcast TV in the year 2011, chances are you’ve got one or more devices nearby: an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop, even a desktop. Chances are you’re “dual-screening,” and chances are if you see something that interests or intrigues you, you’ll explore further online immediately, while continuing to watch your broadcast.

But if you’re watching video-on-demand, any ad is an interruption. You are single-screening -- the device is the broadcast -- and if you see something that interests or intrigues you, you have to interrupt your viewing to explore the topic further.

Yes, you can put the show on pause. Yes, it is easier to click on a video-on-demand ad than it is to run a Google search for a TV commercial. But none of that matters.  It is an interruption.

Video-on-demand will never drive direct, immediate conversions as well as, say, paid search. So don’t use it that way. Use it for brand-building. Use it for clever integration with the show against which you’re advertising. Use it to be memorable and use it to entertain.

But don’t use it to interrupt your customer’s viewing experience. You’ll only destroy the magic.

2 comments about "Magic Moments, And Why Video-On-Demand Is A Lousy Bet".
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  1. Laurie Hutzler from Emotional Toolbox, October 22, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.

    This makes no sense to me. When I am watching Video-On-Demand I also have my computers (laptop and desktop), iPhone, and iPad available and I am usually multi screening. I can search, text or check FB to my heart's content on my other devices while viewing VOD. Any ad is an interruption whether I am viewing broadcast or VOD. Unless it is genuinely funny, really relevant to me or uniquely intriguing I fast forward, leave the room or turn to do something else however I am watching.

  2. Mike Mcgrath from RealXstream PTY LTD, October 23, 2011 at 6:43 p.m.

    VOD isn't about direct response it is, as you say at the end of your post, about new and unique opportunities for brand advertising.
    Banners and search have all been direct response, slowly replacing the Yellow Pages for over a decade now.
    VOD gives the web a chance to compete with TV in terms of sight, sound and motion delivering inspirational and aspirational content. But with VOD you have more creative opportunities to integrate branding and engage viewers in deeper more personal ways because online you can engage with the individual as well as the masses.
    Thanks for the post...

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