As CEO of an interactive agency that works almost exclusively with entertainment industry clients (and as a former entertainment industry executive myself), I’ve overseen hundreds of ad campaigns for movies, DVDs, CDs, video games, and online content. All must be inspected with a fine-tooth comb. Because entertainment-related campaigns have a short time to produce results for a brand or product with a short shelf life, they must be done right the first time and satisfy every demanding set of creative criteria.
This philosophy underlies entertainment marketing culture. It separates agencies and marketers who get it from those who don’t.
As rich media becomes a more important part of every online media plan, those producing this kind of ad creative must heed the lessons the entertainment industry can teach — regardless of what industry they’re in. There’s little room for error. Some basic rules should be applied to all rich media campaigns to make marketers’ efforts more attractive, effective, and efficient. There’s no better example than the film industry to draw these rules from.
Protect Your Assets
In the movie business, how talent is represented is of utmost importance. A film’s faces are often what sell it. If the talent looks bad, the movie will, too.
When developing rich media creative, the creative assets you use are as important as the copy. Don’t take them for granted. Take advantage of the increased file sizes rich media affords, but don’t spend it all on fancy-pants animation. Make sure your photographic assets don’t become crunchy, look cut out, or become unrecognizable. The difference between a powerful ad that’s taken seriously and a busy ad that’s shrugged off may lie in a few more kilobytes allocated to improving the assets’ look.
Ever seen a TV spot for a film and said, “That movie looks horrible!” The difference between a film that looks good in a commercial and one that looks bad may be as simple as editing. In rich media, animation is closely related to the look of the assets. Storyboard each piece of creative. Make sure the animation serves to advance or illustrate the message, not distract from it.
Video Is Your Friend, Not Your Master
Movie posters are often one of the most visible (and collectible) pieces of advertising a distributor creates to support a film. They’re also among the most effective, as they can help sell a film to audiences. The key word is “help.”
In a multimedia world, posters support commercials and trailers, and vice versa. In rich media’s case, static, animated, and video assets can and should coexist. Although video can be the centerpiece of an ad, the surrounding look and feel is every bit as important. If a consumer chooses not to watch the video, she still has a chance to be influenced by what surrounds it. The goal of a video-centric ad isn’t just to get consumers to watch the video but for them to engage with the product on- or offline.
Subtlety Can Be Effective
Some of the most memorable movie ad campaigns are also the simplest. Think “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Jaws,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “28 Days Later,” and (one of my favorites) “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” They all took iconic imagery, music, or images and delivered a concise and very appealing message.
With rich media, file size and animation may be better used to provide cleaner copy transitions, more intuitive interfaces, and less intrusion. Dangle the carrot — don’t force-feed it to your audience.
There’s a reason why, when you see a film such as “Must Love Dogs” in theaters, you also see trailers for other romantic comedies or date movies. Distributors know if you like “Must Love Dogs,” you may like a film with a similar theme.
If you run a rich media ad, especially one with video, interaction rates are significantly higher if it’s run within or surrounding relevant content. Focus more on the content your demographic pays attention to, less on the demographic you want to reach. If the message or video can be tailored around the content experience your audience has already committed to, they’ll be much more receptive to your ad and more likely to interact.
Let Consumers Consume
For just about every movie released, there’s a seemingly endless stream of ways in which to interact with its brand: soundtracks, action figures, promotional DVDs, video games, lunchboxes, backpacks, and so on. If a consumer wants to embrace a brand, the opportunities are plenty.
In a rich media ad, there should be many opportunities to explore a brand or product as well. Whether those opportunities take the form of pure information, video, audio, games, or downloads, embrace the fact the audience has interacted with the ad. Give them every reason to stick around for a while.
Sure, Hollywood is sexy. But your rich media advertising can be, too. Just pay as close attention to its development as you do to its results.
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