Fluttering for Experience Value

It’s remarkable how long-dead authors still influence what we think and feel when we read their work. Their written words far exceed the human lifespan. For a story to withstand the test of time, it must be applicable to readers’ lives far down the line. It must be relevant to our humanity.

We’re drawn to what we readily understand and relate to. We derive a certain sense of comfort from messages that reinforce existing beliefs. We do what we do because it benefits us as individuals. We strive to meet our needs based on relevance and desire. If an offer isn’t relevant, we move on. Few would leave a restaurant after a filling meal in search of another restaurant that offers the same. The need was met.

Years of individual experience molds us into the consumers we are. We’re experience junkies. We flit from one thing that grabs our attention to the next like butterflies in search of nectar. In most cases, we extract the experience nectar and move on. Like butterflies, we don’t bother with stimuli that will yield us nothing of personal importance.

When we talk about rich media advertising, we too often focus on the technology behind the tools we use. These tools are comparable to the printing press. Its invention allowed stories and information to be more easily distributed and shared. It’s the content that informs and provides consumers with an experience.

The online advertising experience has changed dramatically over the past five years. Newer technologies, such as broadband and video compression, allowed the industry to move away from dubious marketing tools (think GIF banners) toward consumer experiences supported by video and interactivity. Away from banners whose marketing approach is to drive traffic to a Web site (which isn’t a very inspiring experience for most consumers) toward providing consumers with the information they need and want.

When creating rich media ads, we must create an experience that clearly communicates the benefits offered and how to take advantage of those benefits. Below, the three points I review to achieve that goal.

Tell a Story That Allows Consumers to Relate the Offer to Their World

People constantly look for what meets their individual needs. We subconsciously filter out what don’t pertain to our needs and move on.

Too many online ads don’t consider consumer needs at all. The pitch points out how wonderful the advertiser is. Consumers don’t care. If it’s all about you, then it’s not all about them. Offer an experience that allows consumers to find information that meets their needs, and you’ll have an instant match. They have needs, you offer benefits. Simple.

Don’t Make Consumers Guess Which Benefits Are Offered

Advertisers often try to get clever with how they present offers. Online, you don’t have the luxury of time to get to the point. If there’s a benefit, let the consumer know immediately. “If you sign up today, you could save up to 25 percent off your next car insurance payment” is direct and a lot more effective than making the consumer watch a car bomb around the screen. If you capture attention but fail to hold it, it’s a nonstarter.

Clearly Explain How the Benefit Can Be Obtained

We filter tasks based on difficulty and time required to complete them. If something’s too complicated or time consuming to complete easily, we move on. “Give us your email address, and we’ll sign you up for our newsletter” is a simple value proposition. For minimal time spent, the consumer can get a greater benefit.

This isn’t to say ads can’t be engaging, creative, and fun. But without a reason to stay, most consumers drift away, searching for nectar in something else.

Related reading