Ads Just Leave You Hanging, Not Driving Engagement

When the Internet was newer and advertisers first got the hang of having Web sites, it was pretty standard fare for commercials to end with a display of the sponsor’s brand new site. Partly, I think, this was to show that your brand of potato chip was just as up-to-date as the other one.

Now, a brand’s site is an absolute given. It’s so matter-of fact that many times, advertisers don’t mention addresses at all, or invite Facebook or Twitter visits.

A blogger in Britain on the site makes the point that watching a TV ad at all is getting to be a rare feat because viewers use commercial breaks to dig deeper into the second device they’re invariably using, but it also says that maybe if advertisers tried, they’d entice some real cross-platform action.

In England, at least, he’s not seeing that. “Perhaps the right advert, with the right message and an attractive enough proposition will compel us to type a URL into the laptop or mobile we’re already looking at?,” writes Christopher Ratcliff. “Of course, in order to even stand a chance of getting to that point, TV adverts need to provide the means for a viewer to visit their online counterpart. What are these 'means'? The clear mention of an easy to remember URL, social channel, or a search term that actually works would be a start.”



He experimented with commercials the other night during halftime of an England vs. Scotland soccer game.Only Mercedes-Benz calming flashed “Search: C-Class.” One commercial, for the “world’s favourite” betting site, Bet365, doesn’t mention or list a URL at all, and includes reference to “#InPlayWithRay” that was badly done enough that it elicited four tweets, two of them from people working for Bet365.  

An ad for Android directed a commercial watcher nowhere at all, which seems a waste too. The Sonos home speaker ad very briefly flashed the Web site. The ad for the PlayStation 4 game “Far Cry” quickly flashed “see” for details much like the easy-to-miss disclaimers in pharma ads. Only Mercedes-Benz calmly flashed “Search: C-Class.”

The searches for the others didn’t do much good. In fact “” doesn’t seem to exist. “The actual site is It proves how little the makers of the ad care about sending viewers online,” Ratcliff notes, as part of a longer lament that these advertisers with expensive TV commercials don’t even take care to ensure they have optimized search terms. Only the ad for telecommunications giant BT, which was hyping its new Netflix service, flashed a site, clear of any video clutter, for more than one second.

“The URL works too, which shouldn’t be a bonus, but clearly is tonight,” he writes. “My only criticism here is that if a viewer misses the URL but is interested in the package, a search for ‘BT Netflix’ only uncovers results for news articles rather than e-commerce links. A paid search listing would fix that.”

It’s not really all that lamentable. As Ratcliff points out, viewers aren’t watching TV commercials like they once did (If they once did) because they’re DVRing content, -- or as noted, they’re deeply involved with the second screen the moment the TV advertising begins. Which, at worst, means, the TV ad was a total waste, or at best, was mostly a total waste, which in fact might be why advertisers don’t even care to direct a TV viewer to visit the Web site, Facebook page, or Twitter or Instagram accounts.

A simpler, less screed-worthy explanation might be that everybody knows how to find more information on the Internet or social sites. But truly, usually that doesn’t stop advertisers from reminding them.
1 comment about "Ads Just Leave You Hanging, Not Driving Engagement".
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  1. tim glomb from Tim Glomb, November 20, 2014 at 4:29 p.m.

    What if you could interact with the commercial spot via your second device? What if you could be IN the commercial spot? What if you could tell the ref that the last call you just saw 2 mins ago sucked... and Pepsi or Doritos or GoDaddy let you do that with their commercial time?

    You can. Turn the commercial into the can't miss event... the real time commentary, the voice of the people. is just an example of real time social content baked into spots, at scale and unique every time.

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