Tag Archives: internet advertising

Listen to the calm, not the heavy breathing

There were so many movers and shakers in the room at Oliver and Ohlbaum’s ‘Through the looking glass’ event yesterday that it was practically a blur. I felt dizzy.

However, any potential nausea from standing on this giant media power plate was swiftly quelled by the steadying influence of the consultants unveiling their latest research.

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Action TV stations

It is important to respond, to act. Ask Gordon Brown about biscuits and he’d better respond with something – anything – or else there will be trouble. Deafening silence rarely suggests success.

Advertising doesn’t always expect an instant response; often it is trying to change the way people feel or think about a brand.  But if advertising doesn’t eventually lead to a response (ideally a purchase or a change in behaviour), then it is difficult to see its point.

But the issue of attribution is a tricky one; how can you identify everything that has contributed to a response?  This is just as true in online media, despite their supposed easy accountability.  The online world is trying to ditch the ‘last click wins’ model in order to assign value to other online ad exposures that precede the final response.  Fair enough, but once the online world has opened that particular can of worms they must acknowledge the contribution of the radio ad, the PR coverage in the paper and, most significantly, the TV campaign that is running, or has previously run.  Is, in fact, the supposed accountability of online more misleading than enlightening?  This question of credit going where it is due is crucial if advertisers are to gain a better understanding of how advertising works.

So it is rather handy that a new econometric study from MediaCom, commissioned by Thinkbox, has measured TV advertising’s ability to send people online. It is the first time that the instant effect TV ads have on web response has been measured and made publically available.

Over a period of three months MediaCom analysed over 175,000 TV spots and the activity they caused on different advertisers’ websites in 10 minute intervals for seven leading brands across six different markets. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

Two of the headline findings from their analysis are:

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TV goes app

Now, here’s a lovely thing that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. The brilliant Barclaycard ‘Waterslide’ TV ad propelled its iPhone app spin-off to become the most popular free, branded game in the history of the iTunes App Store. This is a fine example of TV and interactive media cuddling up and making babies.

BBH’s Barclaycard’s ‘Waterslide Extreme’ iPhone app has clocked up 4 million downloads from the iTunes App Store since its launch in mid-July. It became the top free app in 57 countries.

The Barclaycard TV ad was an instant hit and sparked lots of Twitterface activity.  I loved it too; given that their previous campaign had featured a heartthrob from an all-time favourite TV series, that’s quite an achievement.  Dare (the creative agency behind the app) also created a YouTube channel where people made their own versions of the ad for other to vote on (the excellent tea&cheese’s take on the ad got the most votes).

Apart from actually buying the product, in the ‘olden days’ (like 1998) we could only really show our love for TV ads or programmes by talking about them, imitating them, reading articles about them or buying some related merchandise, like a board game or a mug. We can and do still do all this both on- and offline but, as the existence of the Barclaycard app highlights, we can now do so much more with our TV creative.

We can be inspired to make our own versions, chat in real time about them with people on the other side of the planet, watch extra content, send them to friends, play games based on them or simply watch again. We can even have conversations with the fictional characters that TV ads give birth to, such as the half million Facebook friends and 24,000 Twitter followers of the pre-eminent meerkat of our time.

Of course not every app is as successful as Barclaycard’s but it does demonstrate how potent the TV + online combo can be. T-Mobile’s Life’s for Sharing campaign gets it right too.  Nothing gets the party started like telly and interactive media extends the fun.

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Most irritating things in media: ‘digital’. No 2 in an occasional series

You’ll have gathered by now that I am a bit of a pedantic old bag but I have nothing against the word ‘digital’ per se. It is a perfectly lovely antonym to ‘analogue’. It is, according to a dictionary, a ‘description of data which is stored or transmitted as a sequence of discrete symbols from a finite set, most commonly this means binary data represented using electronic or electromagnetic signals’. So that’s nice and clear.

My problem is how ‘digital’ has come to be used in media and marketing.  It doesn’t do the job required of it.  Even worse than imprecision, it causes confusion.  Earlier this year I witnessed a very senior media figure stand on a platform and tell the audience that when digital TV switchover is complete in 2012 all UK TV will be delivered via the internet.  Erm…sorry, but no.  More and more media are becoming digital; we now have a date for radio broadcasting to go totally digital and outdoor  has lots of exciting new digital formats.  Even print media are compiled digitally, for heaven’s sake.  

There are plenty of other people – Nigel Walley and Ian Darby among them – who object to how ‘digital’ is being used. It is at its most absurd and meaningless when it is used as an alternative to TV. Yet we hear and read it all the time; people talking about choosing between TV and ‘digital’. How on earth did that happen at a time when digital switchover is nearly 90% complete, with many more people enjoying digital TV than have digital broadband? TV could hardly be more digital.

What people mostly mean when they say ‘digital’ is internet or web-based media. What’s wrong with using those words? You could argue that they are too broad already, given that internet media covers a vast range from search and websites, to social media, email marketing and online TV.  But if you are looking for a bigger umbrella word, that can embrace every medium with a built-in return path, including mobile and gaming, then I suggest the word we should all be using is ‘interactive’ media.  This is my personal choice because it’s a truly accurate differentiator between those media and more linear formats; interactivity requires very specific creative thinking and skills.

I accept that language shifts and morphs as we use it to take on new meanings and shake off others, but it still needs to make sense along the way and, anyway, technical terms don’t tend to shift their meanings as much your average word. If we can’t agree what a supposedly technical term like ‘digital’ means then it probably needs a re-think.

Flo Heiss, creative partner at Dare – an agency which has won more ‘Digital Agency of the Year’ accolades than any other – talked at one of our recent events about how he’s bored with the digital word. Dare has dropped it from their name.  Do you dare drop it too?

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