New Technology, Basic Instincts

Rich media advertising is often lauded for the technologies behind it. But rich media’s greatest advantage for marketers is the opportunity to start a dialogue with the consumer quickly.

Rich media advertising has dramatically shifted the paradigm of how information can be communicated. Not only can information in an interactive online ad flow both ways, but campaign results can be tracked and measured at any point during that campaign. For this methodology to be effective, it’s important to identify what the ad is really selling to the consumer (benefit), and what action must to be taken by that consumer to take advantage of the offer.

Human beings, despite our apparent sophistication, remain fundamentally primitive in terms of basic needs. If we have enough food, water, air and shelter from the elements, we meet our survival needs. At this point, our emotional well-being comes into play.

You’ve all heard we buy emotions, not products. We may look at a fancy sports car and convince ourselves we want it because it’s fast or luxurious. In reality, few really care about performance.

When designing interactive ads, the question that should be at the top of the checklist is “How can this offer benefit the consumer?” While there are apparently many possible answers, they’re limited to a surprisingly small handful of responses.


  • Give the consumer a sense of well-being.
  • Offer the consumer a sense of convenience.
  • Offer the consumer a sense of security.
  • Make the consumer more productive/effective.
  • Make the consumer feel special/advantaged.
  • Provide the consumer a sense of continuity.
  • Enhance the consumer’s social standing.
  • Give the consumer a sense of possibility.


Let’s take a closer look at each.

Offer the Consumer a Sense of Well-Being

Well-being covers many aspects of the human condition. It includes most physical and emotional needs, such as happiness, physical and emotional comfort, ego gratification and sense of worth. This category includes offers that can help enhance a sense of self. It’s by far the largest category of needs.

Well-being relates to enjoyment of food, access to medicine, vacations, art, entertainment, health and wellness, shelter, love, collectables and many consumer goods that make us feel good about our lives and ourselves.

Offer the Consumer a Sense of Convenience

This isn’t intended as an indictment of the human race, but people are fundamentally lazy. They seek the shortest path between two points. Finding ways to do things faster, more easily and more cheaply are of great appeal to most people.

Offers related to convenience include timesaving devices, products that solve existing problems or shortcomings, and products consumers can acquire quickly.

Offer the Consumer a Sense of Security

People are wired for self-preservation. The drive for security is perhaps the mainstay of society. Many of us work hard so we can afford a secure lifestyle. This includes protecting ourselves physically, financially and emotionally.

Offers that work on the consumer’s sense of security include insurance, investing, investment collectibles, safety devices, emergency items and personal protection.

Make the Consumer More Productive/Effective

As many consumers work hard to create the lives they desire, they have less time to do everything they want to.

Products that help the consumer become more productive include educational materials, time-saving devices for home or office, ways of enhancing physical and mental capabilities, convenience products and services for daily tasks (house cleaning, laundry, food preparation, shopping, etc.).

Make the Consumer Feel Special/Advantaged

People like to feel special. For many, the opportunity to buy or own something that can’t be easily acquired by others is a big incentive.

Products that cater to this desire include exclusive or limited offers, products that can be personalized, and luxury products.

Providing the Consumer a Sense of Continuity

Change may be part of life, but most people don’t like it. They like it even less when something they’ve come to expect or rely on changes. This could mean the loss of an appliance, theft of a car or expiration of a membership or subscription.

Services that offer continuity can include automatic bill paying services, warrantees, insurance, and product replacement.

Alter the Consumer’s Social Standing

Humans are social animals. Whether we give it much thought or not, we work to maintain a level of social status. For most, standing out in a good way is desired; standing out in a bad way is avoided. Fear of ostracism or public humiliation is enough to keep many people away from activities that might reflect unfavorably on them. When you consider the greatest fear in the world is public speaking, you see preservation of social status as an amazing behavioral force.

Products that can help to enhance the consumer’s social standing include fashion, cosmetics, education, self improvement tools, job placement, large ticket items and luxury consumer goods.

Give the Consumer a Sense of Possibility

For most, the future is veiled. People seek a path to the future and may consider any option that can provide them with a sense of possibility.

Products that appeal to the sense of possibility include franchising and moneymaking techniques, lotteries and other games of chance, investment programs, and dating services.

Good ad design will often save the day, but the message and the benefit contained in that message drives consumer reaction. Once the core benefit is identified, it’s often a simple task to then position the offer so the consumer quickly recognizes the personal benefit and takes action.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

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