No Soliciting Allowed! - Jaffer Ali - MediaBizBloggers
Published: September 7, 2010 at 05:27 PM GMT
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Last Updated: September 7, 2010 at 05:27 PM GMT
By Jaffer Ali
"Whenever I click on a site that has a pre-roll… I either
totally ignore it or just scrub the video altogether. I
purposely try to avoid any site that has a video because,
quite frankly, I just do not have any more patience to be
yammered at." –D. Jacobson, Consumer
One of my first jobs out of college was as a door-to-door salesman. After six months, I was promoted to sales trainer. The very first rule I learned – and promptly passed on – was to never knock on a door that proclaimed "No Solicitors Allowed".
Isn't that an obvious piece of advice? Consider what would happen if you knocked on that door. Would you be successful? And what kind of impression would you leave for your company?
The questions above have obvious answers. But what do they have to do with advertising in general and online advertising in particular?
We have arrived at the point in our media ecosystem where advertising has achieved such ubiquitous status that it is actually becoming toxic. Consumers are turning away from ads at every opportunity, be it with a DVR, a remote control, or (especially) a mouse.
We have created an environment where consumers are either literally erecting "No Soliciting" signs wherever they can, or avoiding ads as if the signs were already there. Of course the Do Not Call Registry (established in 2004), the Do Not Fax Registry, and Do Not Mail lists have all flourished. Whenever there is an opportunity to avoid ads, consumers take it.
Every honest person in the media ecosystem knows that what D. Jacobson (quoted at the beginning of this article) says is true. What this means is that we may have reached the point of a negative return on investment (NROI) with our advertising.
Advertising now has a negative impact in consumers' minds. What is the current response to this trend? Double-down with more ad impressions! Our advertising industry and the brands we represent are in a quandary. We have not yet embraced the concept of NROI. We just keep knocking on doors with "No Soliciting" signs posted, and the more we persist, the more we compromise our brands – and ourselves.
So what can we do to bring out the welcome mat?
First order of business is to stop knocking on doors with clearly demarked "No Soliciting" signs! Brands need to be invited in using something other than advertising to gain entry. That something is content.
Content is much better bait than advertising. The early days of radio and television taught us this. If advertisers would simply revisit this proven dynamic, the signs would come down and doors would begin to open again.
Imagine a video clip of Michael Jordan's best dunk shots terminating on Nike.com instead of YouTube. Imagine a video clip of glamorous film stars terminating on Dove.com instead of YouTube. No pre-roll to repel the audience. No "No Solicitors" signs to stop us at the door.
By terminating the viewing on a specific brand's site instead of some disjointed third party's, the viewer is immersed in the subject brand's exclusive "environment to buy". All of the space around the video player reflects that brand's image. And would a brand pay for traffic delivered directly to its "showroom"? Smart brands certainly would. But first they need to stop knocking on doors marked "No Soliciting" long enough to understand this "not so new" audience dynamic at play.
I have little time or patience for those who contend that consumers don't want to and/or won't click to another site to read an article or view a video, because of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Case in point: Drudge Report generates 6 billion clicks annually to articles that are all consumed on OTHER sites. And don't get me started on how many Google-generated clicks to articles that terminate on OTHER sites. Audiences simply don't care where they consume content as long as they get what they want when they want it. Welcome to the 21st century.
The biggest obstacle to common sense is nonsense. Agencies that live and breathe by peddling more and more of what does NOT work have somehow mesmerized brands into misdiagnosing the problem. These intermediaries see their business as advertising rather than as communicating, and can be excused for not seeing the solution. Their paychecks depend on peddling what no longer works despite the "No Soliciting" signs that abound.
Brands must be at the forefront of this change. They must shift online gears and build websites that engage consumers. They need to welcome consumers with content rather than chase them away with ads. This is not revolutionary thinking. It's the only media model that has every worked. But as they say, the first casualty of Pop Culture is history, and today's digitally born and bred brand managers are stuck in a mindset that denies its own history.
No matter what business you're in, if your marketing plan turns a blind eye to the "No Soliciting Allowed" signs and attitude that permeate the landscape, don't be surprised when the door slams in your face.
The above article is not a hypothetical treatise as Jaffer is the CEO of Vidsense, a company dedicated to delivering audiences AND licensed content to advertiser websites. To contact Jaffer, pick up the phone and call him at 708-478-4500 ext.105 or email him at j.ali@Vidsense.com.
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