Home  › Media › Media Buying

The Essence of Content

  |  August 3, 2007   |  Comments

With online ads getting so robust, how does one decide what goes into them?

Way back in advertising's Stone Age, I did a lot of what everyone did: inferior, uninteresting work. The money wasn't a problem, but after you've created a sea of ads, brochures, newsletters, you name it, it got pretty hum-drum. The upside was you learned a lot.

Let's not forget putting all the layouts on mechanical boards and setting spot color and doing mathematics to get the typesetting right. I think that low-voltage twitch in my lower back is the remnant stress from many long nights of specifying eight columns of multifont typesetting.

Quaint and crafty as that sounds, it was a lot of work to assemble even the most rudimentary print material. That's all in the past, but some of the problems we had back then haven't entirely disappeared.

One of the biggest problems was the "gift certificate principle" that would torpedo most projects I worked on in the wee hours of the night. This came from many a client who believed two things: printing was expensive, so you had to put as much as possible on every square inch of the brochure or you'd waste money, and people would actually read something conceived under that premise.

Both views were, and remain, totally wrong.

Online has the same problems. Just because you can put copy or images on the Web, doesn't mean they're useful or meaningful to the user. Apart from the great sea of personal expression out there, the worst offender is online advertising. Yes, we may all have been culprits in this kind of content crime.

I went through a lot of realizations about what's good to put into a banner and what isn't, Here are the categories:

  • Mind food: The essential communication that has meaning and is applicable to users and their time and experience with the brand or offer. Something compelling them to take action or have a positive impression.

  • Mind filler: Something that's unnecessary and unworthy of reading and has no direct action or benefit tied to the communication. Something to pass the time with while waiting for other things.

  • Mind fodder: A communication that has relevance to the primary communication, but has a latent meaning or action tied to the advertisement. Something to think or act upon later.

It's probably not hard to know what these things are in terms of marketing communication. Yet we still commit same type of heinous crimes against the user experience that we did back before the Internet.

The rate of content creation is intensely rapid, and that's a cost in its consumption. When there's more of anything, cost and quality can suffer.

Think again about how attention spans have accelerated, and you'll get a picture of why it's even more important to make sure you get your message in the food category, not the filler.

Remember that filler is for hot dogs, and we know where you end up when consuming too many of those!

Content consumption has become more selective and more random. As our global interactive village becomes more crowded, we must take the time to see things as they are, from the user's point of view, not from the marketer's.

To those who see new ad technology as a panacea for marketing goals, online ads can be a veritable mill wheel of the collective marketing experience. To the wise, they're more like a shopkeeper selling the products the mill produces. A good experience garners repeat visits.

Nominate your choice of technologies, companies, and campaigns that made a positive difference in the online marketing industry in the last decade. Nominations end August 3 at 5:00 pm (EDT).

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dorian Sweet

Dorian Sweet is the vice president and executive creative director of GSI Interactive who leads strategic development and innovation in online advertising, Web development, e-commerce, and customer relationship management programs. His work has brought award-winning online solutions to such clients as Clorox, Miller Brewing Company, GE, Visa, eBay, British Airways, Wells Fargo, Discovery Networks, Motorola, Kodak, Sears, 20th Century Fox, and others.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Media newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...