All Advertising is “Somewhat Subliminal,” Not Just Banners

June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

As suitable follow-up to the tribute offered in this space to the creative banner winners at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival last week comes the report in Online Media Daily that banners manage to have a “somewhat subliminal” effect on consumers. Says the article by Laurie Sullivan:

“Consumers say they ignore static banner ads, and don’t click on them, but eMarketer Senior Analyst David Hallerman cites stats from a Microsoft Atlas study that suggest the static strips running across the tops of Web pages still influence purchase decisions.”

The science behind the report is not detailed in the story. It appears we may have to wait for the release of a study from Microsoft Atlas. The supposition, however, fits comfortably with our understanding of the real world: consumers would prefer to ignore advertising.

Interestingly, the world is divided over how to deal with that problem. One side feels free to engage consumers with intrusive creative formats that launch in their face. The other continues experimenting with the creative potential of banners, and their associated standard IAB unit cousins.

The intrusive, “gotcha” crowd wants to trade robust creative in the form of sight, sound and motion in exchange for a few moments of consumer attention. They are a bells and whistles crowd. Their “As long as you’re here” counterparts on the opposite side rely on the environment of the web sites for help with audience engagement. They are a permission-driven crowd.

“Somewhat subliminal”, however, applies to the affect both of them have on advertising influence. One is quietly subliminal. The other is overtly subliminal. One is “I ignore you because for a minute I didn’t see you hiding there,” and the other is, “I ignore you because you’re loud and obnoxious.” The only affect advertisers can hope to have, in the absence of great creative, is “somewhat subliminal.” Beyond that, it’s just a question of what impression they desire to have remain in the consumer subconscious.

Which sounds like a reason to keep working on great banner advertising.

The YouTube Orchestra debuts at Carnegie Hall tonight

April 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

The YouTube Orchestra debuts tonight at Carnegie Hall. This is a group of musicians from around the world that met and auditioned online, and have had exactly three days to rehearse together since convening in New York City on Sunday.  Immediately, questioners were asking can the quality of this orchestra be as good in comparison to the world’s great philharmonics? In essence, the same question that gets asked about the quality of journalism or content produced online by myriads of independent web publishes in comparison to mainstream media. The question always misses the point, which is that enrichment – musical or otherwise – derives from freedom and desire as much as excellence. The YouTube orchestra is another example of freedom and desire at work online.

Last Auto Intender out the door, turn off the lights

March 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

U.S. auto sales in February were cut nearly in half year-over-year. The February run-rate, according to a report in USA Today, would mean a total of 9.1 million new cars sold this year, the lowest since 1981.

Herein lies my problem with relying on the Internet almost exclusively to reach auto intenders: it’s a shrinking market. Right now it’s the strategy equivalent of Russian nesting dolls with one auto intending segment fitting snugly inside another, getting smaller and smaller until – poof – brands are forgotten. In the meantime, the strategy ignores the fact that the Internet has substantial reach with which to target brand specific audiences, thereby to offset the decline and brand effectiveness of other media.

It is going to be hard to sell anything right now, let alone a car. But manufacturers might be sensibly advised to shake off the (obviously desperate) temptation to focus purely on intenders online and think about the future and the cost of reclaiming the loyalty of brand buyers – who are also online.

Performance-Enhancing Drugs

February 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

The irony is really quite thick in the above-the-fold picture of Alex Rodriguez on the cover of The Wall Street Journal today. President Barack Obama gave his first prime-time press conference last night, using it to address the economic crisis and his proposed stimulus package costing billions, and the nation’s financial newspaper of record ran a picture of A-Rod on the cover. If newspapers were suspected of taking drugs to enhance performance A-Rod on the cover of the Journal today is how you’d know.

I remember hearing John Quinn, USA Today’s founding editor, respond to a question about which cover photos drove more single copy sales of the newspaper than anything else. “Elvis,” he answered, without missing a beat. If you ask the editors of People Magazine I expect the answer to that question would be Lady Diana.

Today, the Journal ran a photo of A-Rod on its cover but, remembering itself, followed-up with only a few column inches about the story in the gutter of page A4. In the process, we got a lesson on why consumers (and, thereby, marketers) need the Internet, which is the rescuer of relevance.

Is Hulu like TV?

February 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

MediaPost’s “Around the Net in Online Marketing” directed us to this story today about Hulu in The Economist. The upshot seems to be that Hulu may have broken the code on having a successful video business online, although the article is appropriately cautious at the end saying, “It’s too early to declare Hulu the winner.” (I suppose that means the winner over YouTube). From the sound of things Hulu is sold out of advertising space, which means prices should go up, which certainly sounds successful.

I was talking with someone about Hulu this week, however, who made a smart observation: Yes, Hulu is successful attracting an audience and selling some ads against it; but, does Hulu constitute a successful video model online in the way we ought to think about it? Is Hulu like TV?

Probably not. Hulu is a product of TV. Hulu is a line extension. TV develops the audience and Hulu simply adds value to it by letting The Office fans experience their favorite bits over and over again. Could Hulu develop an original program audience on its own worthy of sold-out sponsorship? Probably not. At least, not yet. Original video programming online has struggled to find a sponsor. It’s not for lack of audience; YouTube is big. So, it’s not device driven; Hulu proves people will sit in front of a computer screen to watch programs. The problem is simply the one that infects online media, generally, which is an umbilical attachment to the safety of offline media brands. It’s a fetal thing.

Eventually we’ll grow out of it. At that point Hulu may appear to lack the freshness and authenticity that would make it like – well – the Internet.

Views of a Foetus in the Womb detail.jpg

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