Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Single Most Important Point

For years, virtually every creative brief in every agency had a item called the "single most important point." The one thing the ad had to communicate. It made sense, because traditional advertising is full of space limitations: 30 seconds, one page, an outdoor board with a seven word headline. But in reality, it's a strange construct. Consumers don't typically make buying decisions based on one piece of knowledge, at least not for a meaningful purchase. Rather, we buy based on an accumulation of knowledge gained over time from our own experience, product reviews, peer input and yes, advertising.

Traditional media put the advertiser and the agency in the role of editor. Our job was to decide the "single most important point" to tell the audience. That's silly. First, the audience isn't homogeneous. Second, who are we to decide? Third, sometimes the deciding factor is a seemingly minor element of the product. If we're focused only on the "single most important point," we're eliminating the opportunity to put the consumer in touch with that obscure but compelling feature.

And therein lies the beauty of the Internet. We don't have space limitations. We don't have the be the "editor" of information to the consumer. Instead, our role is to be an organizer of and participant in a dialogue with the consumer. More information is better, as long as we can provide the organization to keep it from being a jumbled mess.

As long as traditional media vehicles reach consumers, there will still be ads with a "single most important point." But new opportunities require new forms of storytelling. Good agencies will be adept at both.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Here's a thought: help the customer

Are you a marketer? Read this. (It's the New York Times, so you need to log in, but seriously, if you don't have an account on nyt.com, you should).

This is where marketing's at now. Nike is doing a great job of Bridge-building and Storytelling. The net enables it. Winning marketers will engage in ongoing conversations with consumers, find interesting ways to tell their stories, and will provide services and content that make the lives of their customers easier.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Streaming Video is a Home-Based Activity

The Center for Media Research reported on a study by Advertising.com on consumers' online video viewing habits. According to the study, the vast majority of video streaming occurs at home. A full 95% of respondents said they stream at home, compared to 4% at work and 1% at school. Nearly half (45%) of all video streaming takes place in the evening.

View a PDF of the entire study at Advertising.com.

These findings are a little surprising in a couple of ways. First, most internet use has typically taken place at work, even for activities such as shopping and personal email. Video is not following that same pattern. Second, the percentage of video activity at home indicates just how standard broadband access in the home has become. As recently as 2000, broadband penetration in homes was under 5 percent. Current estimates run in the 45-50% range, an extremely fast adoption rate by U.S. consumers. As the U.S. Commerce Department famously reported in 1995, it took radio 38 years to build an audience of 50 million listeners. Broadband access has been adopted by over 100 million total users in less than 10 years.