Leaning On Your Ad

Since its conceptual debut in 2008, sellers of online advertising have claimed that THEIR audiences are more engaged with THEIR medium since they "lean forward" (and thus are -- mysteriously -- more engaged with ads) than TV viewers, who assume the "lean-back" posture of couch potatoes. This despite all of the evidence to the contrary, that TV ads move product while online ads are either ignored, skipped or banished by ad blockers.

Nothing in the online world (well, besides social media and porn collections on tumblr) has been more fascinating to watch than the arms race to produce online ads that audiences won't ignore. If TV worked nearly as hard on their ad executions you would have now have 3D avatars driving new car models round your family room ("Watch out for the cat...buh...bump...oh my God!").

I have to assume that the lean-forward posture had something to do with desktop PCs, devices that only seem to exist in offices these days. (When I bought a new Windows 8 Dell a month ago, Michael Dell and 14 customer support folks showed up at my house to do the laundry, cut the grass and wash my car.) No one else in the house leans forward to engage with their mix of notebooks, tablets and smartphones. In fact, I think my teenagers would be perfectly happy to stay in bed 24/7 if Domino’s would deliver to the second floor. They have increased the angle of "lean back" to around 180 degrees, yet by all rights should be counted in the "lean forward" census.



This has not been lost on some who say the whole lean this way or that way needs to be rethought and centered rather around other vague concepts like "Physical Attributes" and "Engagement Style." Here's a better idea: Just forget it. I will make your life really easy and tell you here and now where to advertise (at least to me).

1) Newspapers. I realize that just by saying that, I have inched that much closer to crossing the Jordan, but it is nevertheless true that I probably act on newspaper ads more than any other. Not everyone -- except other ancient relics like me -- reads three newspapers a day from cover to cover, but I glance at nearly every ad (even what's left of the classifieds just to see if anyone has bought those "34 in. hockey leg pads, like new" yet.)

2) Billboards. But only on interstates, where they break up the monotony of long-distance driving. And if they are for really good barbeque, or dirt-cheap gas (if that is not an oxymoron). The others you can burn down with my thanks.

3) Magazines. Not that I actually ever buy anything from those ads, but those half-dressed models are like having a rich dessert with no caloric consequences. I also like those glossy shots of new kitchens and bathrooms, a habit I can't break even though I am SO DONE with renovations.

4) TV. Not gonna lie to you, I tape the shows and skip the ads, but the new cloud-based storage system that Cablevision just rolled out is so crappy that you can't nail the precise second the show resumes, so you are left seeing the tail end of commercials. Sometimes just enough to make a sale. BTW, as long as I have a remote/mute and either a newspaper or magazine nearby, I couldn't care less that you disable fast-forward for on-demand shows (although I can think of about 100 other things I could do with that saved 20 minutes).

5) Online. But only if your ads show up in search. I figure if you paid top dollar for that position, you probably have the product, so I will click to at least price-check you (before I go to Amazon, hahahahahah).

Massive-Waste-Of-Money Warnings: radio, place-based media, mobile ads, direct mail (unless you are Victoria's Secret), transit ads, anything that I can see on a beach, ads before in-theater movies, anything with a movie or sports star as spokesperson, and banner ads.








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