You’d think that interactive advertising would be a no-brainer for advertisers and agencies. It’s what they've always wanted—a chance to engage with their customers for longer than the length of a TV ad. But a lot of interactive is like a lot of regular old advertising. It misses the mark.
Digital ad firm Tremor Video today is revealing its own tip sheet of five best practices for interactive. Add that to the list of other lists, and by now there must be two or three thousand lists of best practices, which isn’t to knock Tremor for its effort, because apparently some advertisers, marketers and agencies still need some help.
Still, a lot of what works with interactive, says David Sanderson, Tremor’s senior director of creative, is what works with all advertising, but perhaps more so because interactive elements—many of them commercials on their own—exist within interactive ads like Russian cupping dolls.
Sanderson says that old advertising axiom still works: “It’s not what you put in it, it’s what you’ve left out.” Which leads to me starting with his fifth rule: “Leave the viewer wanting more,” not feeling overwhelmed. “Design and build for intrigue and interaction.”
Indeed, he says, it’s easy for interactive ads to do just the opposite, creating so many points of entry (or, I guess, departure), a viewer can get confused.
“I’d say overall, the biggest problem is a lack of clarity,” he says. “There’s no call to action. Or there’s no logo. Or too much going on. You can only do one or two things at a time.” Too many elements and “your eye doesn’t know how to focus.” Likewise, offering a viewer too many options about how to interract is likely to just torpedo the whole idea.
Tremor’s rules are seem pretty well thought out, based on a study of successful and unsuccessful Tremor ads calculated through its Video Hub system that can show how commercials, measured more than a dozen ways that measure who’s is watching where, when and how.
Some of it –well, all of it—sounds simple:
-- Create stopping power:Use bright colors, animation, celebrities—and put a bug along the bottom of the screen where viewers often look for video controls.
--Be obvious: Pretty darn quickly, viewers have to know what they’re seeing, and who’s telling them about it. Use logos and brand colors. A lot. Being obvious should be obvious.
--Clear over clever: Tell viewers what they need to know and what they need to do. Use call-outs such as “click to watch the longer video” or “roll over to learn more”.
--Give back: Rewarding viewers is a good practice. As Sanderson notes, someone who likes a product enough to click to learn more, wants to feel plugged in. They want more, judiciously. Extra content that is novel, entertaining or especially funny works. So does a free sample.
--Keep it simple: Discussed already, but it's hard to de-emphasize.
Lots of times, executives get a little clammy sounding altruistic about a dollars and cents business. Sanderson does too, but he points out that interactive ads create, briefly, an environment where eager advertiser can finally meet up with the genuinely interested customer. “Interactive,” he says, “can push that relationship into something meaningful.”