Deutsch's Hirshberg: Consumers Welcome Ads

LOS ANGELES--Technological advances might have made it easy for consumers to skip ads these days, but that doesn't mean that they will. That's according to Eric Hirshberg, president and chief creative officer at Deutsch LA, who spoke about online advertising Tuesday at the OMMA Hollywood Conference & Expo.

"Ironically, just as technology has given people the power to avoid advertising," Hirshberg said, "those same people are engaging with marketing and brands and advertising in a more emotional and collective way than ever before."

"Brands are becoming a powerful part of our popular culture and a powerful part of our cultural expression," he said. Brands, he added, confer "this incredibly powerful shorthand--like religion has, about expressing who we are to the world."

For those reasons, he said, people don't object to advertising--provided that it's not done in a way perceived as condescending. "These consumers are ... sophisticated in terms of their relationship to marketing," he said. "They know the tricks. They don't mind being marketed to--as long as they're marketed to well."

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Hirshberg also disputed the notion that click-through and conversion rates accurately reflect the success of a Web campaign. "The key to effective measurement is agreeing what a win looks like with a client at the beginning," he said. For instance, rather than click-through rates, examining factors such as how long people interacted with an ad might prove more useful, Hirshberg said.

In fact, Hirshberg added, focusing on metrics like user engagement--as opposed to click-through rates or conversions--also can help agencies convince marketers that the Web works for branding, as opposed to solely direct response.

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