Who 'Owns' The Eyeball?

n our world we are laden with industry jargon, much of which we poke fun at. I've written and joked about it before. Many agency folks have a little game called "media lingo bingo," where you count the number of times a word is brought up in a conference call, meeting, pitch, whatever -- words and phrases like: "out-of-the-box," "integration," "synergy," "viral"... the list goes on.

One word I used to try and find a replacement for was "eyeballs." I admit, to people outside of our world, it does sound a bit creepy. However in our world it's a say-no-more kind of thing. Because of that, I don't think we need a replacement.

I was speaking recently with Jaffer Ali, CEO of Vidsense, Inc., who got my wheels spinning (and for those of you who know me, that's not an easy feat). He was spot-on when he said, "There was a time (years ago) when the brand owned the eyeball rather than rented it." As we went on, he mentioned the early days of TV and brand like Geritol's "$64,000 Question" or "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour."



Not only is Jaffer dead smack in the middle of this debate, he built his company around providing a solution to it. In a nutshell, Vidsense is about the brand owning the eyeball on its own site. The traffic and content play on the brand's site not a third party's and with no commercial. Here's an example:

Eek -- scary to some. Why? Well, this writer thinks it's a threat to all those she ends out shelling wads of dough to. Think about it. When buying digital display, we pay for creative and production (we have to), then we pay for traffic, third-party serving and/or tracking, impressions, clicks, engagement...eyeballs of some sort on a site we nor the brand own, and we often pay other fees for content, etc. The list can go on and on. This often makes advertising expensive, efficient and wasteful.

I hate to admit it, but when we represent brands, planning is not rocket science. In many cases the strategy isn't. Sure it may be hard or tricky to figure out in the ad space. Quite frankly, this is due to competition, clutter, and lack of content. Everyone is trying to do the same thing and has been since the first online ad was sold back in 1994.

All of us who represent brands want to create an emotional connection. We are tasked with doing that in small formats in a very short amount of time. Shouldn't it be simple? Shouldn't there be a better way? Is it wrong for me to want to align my brand with analogous (noncompetitive) brands in a contextually relevant venue that is engaging and makes the user want to come back for more?

While I don't have a perfect answer, I know there are many who echo my sentiments and seek more. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to bounce ideas off Jaffer. He's one of the few who really gets it.

Now on to you, dear readers. I know there are many who lurk but don't post. Most likely you're the ones who get it, too. Share the wealth or the punchiness with us on the SPIN blog. Or hell, throw in another word to make us chuckle for our never-ending game of media lingo bingo. And for those of you Americans, have a happy and healthy 4th.

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