Creativity Will Save Advertising. Again.

I know, I know–it’s too late; advertising’s already dead. Digital/social/experiential/big data killed it…

The only problem is this constant, dire drumbeat sounds juicy, it creates alarm, but it’s mostly just opinion or self-promotion. It’s clickbait.

If you want facts, follow the money. In the most recent case, digital entertainment powerhouse Netflix bid $300m to buy Regency Outdoor Advertising.

That’s right, the disruptive, disintermediating, digital content giant wants to buy a billboard company.

Their motivation is fascinating. Netflix noticed that big outdoor imagery stokes social sharing. People posted lots of shots of their “Netflix is a joke” campaign to Instagram which promoted their comedy line-up.

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In other words, people share great creative.

These days, $300m might not sound like an earth-shattering number, but it represents the largest acquisition in Netflix history. Imagine; a leading digital giant offering to pay one third of a billion dollars on a oft-declared dying medium…a smart company wouldn’t do that unless they knew it worked.

And that’s a fact.

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This post originally appeared in Screen Magazine.

Two Posts: Two Conflicting Opinions

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonThis morning, my friend Matt Burgess forwarded the latest blog entry from the AdContrarian: the ridiculously well-opinioned Bob Hoffman of Hoffman/Lewis who regularly writes really interesting perspectives on the ad business (I should try to do that myself…). He argues quite persuasively that Facebook, with all it’s massive data and reach, is pursuing a misguided business strategy. As he puts it, “Facebook is the only media company in the universe that reaches a billion people on a regular basis but seems determined to sell cheesy $2 ads to dentists.” Ouch. He goes on to make a number of very astute observations regarding the nature of engagement and conversion, specifically that interactivity is the enemy of advertising since most people interact to avoid advertising, not play with it, unless they are looking for something. He makes a number of other really good points, all of which led to a healthy discussion in the agency.

Then, around 4;30 this afternoon, Rich Routman posted a blog on MediaPost lamenting that connected TV had yet to really find an audience. He figured it would take a long time before it becomes a dominant form of programming consumption. With less than half of connected TV owners using their internet connections, clearly there’s a lot of confusion. A lot will have to change, especially for us to use it for something other than the obvious Netflix streaming.

Or is there? Maybe Bob Hoffman is right. Maybe people will only use connected TV’s interactivity to avoid advertising (i.e.: streaming Netflix) making nothing else really worthwhile…

But either way, this future predictability is turning out to be quite the challenge.

 

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

 

Opinion’s Omnipresence Renders Traditional Conceits Like “Brand Truth” and “Consumer Truth” Irrelevant

The HSBC 'Points of View' Campaign   

The HSBC ‘Points of View’ Campaign

For the past four years, HSBC has run a provocative poster campaign from JWT.  Using a brilliant media buy in high traffic airport jetways, the ads highlight paradoxical points-of-view.  Simple graphics and headlines illustrate the insight that people from different regions, backgrounds or cultures often view the same phenomena in vastly different ways.

More than anything, this campaign demonstrates the fungible nature of opinion; something that’s become all the more relevant with the massive informational and behavioral changes brought on by the pervasive, worldwide adoption of the participatory Web 2.0.  By most any measure, opinion’s recently emerged mass distribution channel makes it far more impactful than TV, print, and radio combined.  We may not think of it as a traditional medium per se, but we ignore it at our peril.  As word-of-mouth experts are fond of saying, as much as 92% of all purchase decisions are driven by recommendation, which is nothing more than vocalized opinion.  More importantly, opinions have never been easier to come by; out culture is literally awash in it.

Google “review of Pixar’s Up” and you get 3.6 million entries in .33 seconds…  Every product on Amazon features buyers’ ratings and other key retailers like iTunes, NetFlix and eBay encourage prominent feedback opportunities.  The crushing volume of blogs and soon the exponentially larger world of Tweets can be simply searched.  We even edit our own networks to match our personal opinions, watching Fox News, listening to Air America, or subscribing to magazines and blogs because they reflect our personal politics.  Opinion is literally everywhere and louder than it has ever been.

All of which threatens the relevance and usefulness of those long-held marketing saws ‘brand truth’ and ‘consumer truth.’  What is ‘truth’ in a wold where opinion holds such dominance?  And whose truth?  Can there truly be a universal product or consumer truth?

Instead of the classic Venn diagram that guided years of integrated marketing by highlighting the intersection of ‘brand truth’ and ‘consumer truth’ we now have one vastly larger, much less uniformly shaped universe of consumer opinion, with all of it’s variants, anomalies and conflict.  Brands are opinions–and so our agency job today is to determine not something as debatable as brand truth, but rather the Brand Authenticity (and yes, Authenticities) within all of that opinion and then help meld and coalesce them into a universally-accepted Brand Authenticity.

Do that, and you bring powerful alignment to the often warring worlds of paid and earned media.

At least, that’s my opinion…

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Comportment v2.0: A More Relevant Way To Consider Branding Today

Consider the word “Comportment:” one of those dusty, remainder bin nouns on par with dated terms like “dungarees” and “sarsaparilla.”  On those very rare occasions when people use this term today, it refers to some sort of dated propriety, a finishing school bearing usually cited with a tall helping of irony.

And yet, marketers would serve their clients well to consider how comportment online and offline affects their client brands.  In a world that enables quicksilver consumer reaction to every brand and action, how companies communicate can be as important as what they communicate.

Unintentional Collateral Damage

Unintentional Collateral Damage

This nineteenth century word popped up this morning when my wife groused “I hate Netflix.”  That seemed odd.  We no longer subscribe, though we did for a while (of course, this was before discovering the wonders of $1 DVD rentals through one of the 12,000 amazingly convenient RedBox locations: not coincidentally, a valued agency client).  It turns out, whenever she clicks the main browser window closed on Safari, she finds the same Netflix banner behind it, forcing her to click that window closed as well.  Not a major issue, but since it happens time and again, it frosts her pumpkin.

As I reset her preferences to thwart pop-up windows, I thought about how oblivious Netflix must be to this unintended impression.  And how dangerous that kind of thoughtlessness can be when multiplied over the millions of impressions that happen online.  While advertisers should think of the web as a vast data engine, they should also realize that it is an intimate communications platform.   So behaving like an uninvited guest and refusing to leave won’t build your brand.

Sometimes, cheap media can really cost you.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79