Captivating the Digital Audience

As my husband and I were watching Monday Night Football last week, he made a comment about how the commercials are the best he has seen in a long time – maybe even better than this year’s Super Bowl. I should preface this by saying we both work in the advertising industry, so we notice things like this; however, neither of us work in the TV advertising business. We are both regular DVR addicts, and I can’t recall the last time we watched regular “appointment” TV programming until the sports season came back around. We are definitely consumers who choose what we want when we want it (more of the “pull” types vs. the “push” types).

When I think back to the commercials my husband praised, it was nothing of particular relevance to me; however, it was entertaining, funny, and witty. The advertisers were your typical big brands: beer, financial, and insurance, that are able to purchase these spots within prime TV real estate where millions of people are captivated. Or are they? Maybe I should say present, in some form, instead of captivated. Yes, we watched our fair share of commercials, in between bathroom breaks, putting the kids to bed, finishing up the dinner dishes, and folding loads of laundry.

While it would be more relevant for me to see ads on laundry detergent and toilet paper, the big buck humor ads definitely win me over in this case as an escape from the daily grind of reality.

Let’s translate this to the digital world.

Unfortunately, the attention given to TV ads, while on the decline, is even less online. According to an ARAnet survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation in February, 36 percent of people found traditional TV ads as an influential source for deciding what goods and services to purchase, while all online ads come in at about half that at 19 percent.

With attention more difficult to capture while consumers are in a digital environment with more “pull” choices, marketers are working to improve effectiveness without spending more advertising dollars. This often means shifting dollars from traditional to digital media, where CPMs are lower and the media is more accountable. The number one source for improving marketing performance, according to the Winterberry Group, “The Changing Mission of Marketing Data,” is targeting from past marketing campaigns. This falls above Web analytics providers and search engines. Fairly impressive that advanced targeting tactics, like behavioral targeting, that provide brands and advertisers with backend data are so insightful they can reshape audience segments.

While the data of knowledge is insightful from a media targeting perspective, it is also important to realize the essence of this media unit and what consumers are really seeing – what is inside that ad, from the imagery to the messaging, and call to action. At the end of the day: what value are you really providing to the consumer? There are a lot of publishers and networks providing a ton of backend data that allows us to know their preferences, concerns, top-of-mind interests, etc. Isn’t it about time we start marrying all of this data with what we offer?

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