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Skip Ad in 5...4...3...2...1

by Neil Haslam , 17.04.2014

Whilst browsing to watch a product review on one of the world's most frequented video sharing sites, I was faced with a countdown similar to the title of this post, whilst marketers had a brief interlude to try and hook my interest before I was able to skip to the start of the video review. It made me think about some of the challenges faced by those who use digital marketing to communicate their messages.  Roper Reports® Worldwide data tells us that, currently, just 12% of Global consumers see advertising on the Internet as a trustworthy source of information – a figure that does not compare favourably with the 39% of consumers who see TV advertising as a trustworthy resource.  Yet in this instance, it was not the type of media that made me so eager to skip forward, rather it was the advert itself, which appeared to be untargeted, given my profile or indeed the subject matter I was researching.

Rewind 25 years and home VCRs were beginning to wrestle the monopoly of control over our viewing time, previously held by the television networks, back into the hands of the consumer. The ability to fast-forward through advertising breaks allowed consumers to dictate the degree to which they were marketed to.  Where previously consumers had faced a stark choice between sitting through the adverts and going to the kitchen to make a cup of tea (and risking missing the start of the next programme segment), now they could pause the action or fast-forward through, bypassing the carefully crafted work of the advertising agencies.

Back to present day and these issues are compounded by the arrival of PVRs and on-demand TV - services that make scanning through these commercials even easier.

At GfK Consumer Trends, we are passionate about connecting with consumers at a fundamental Values level.  Understanding these deep, motivational traits can help us understand how to engage these prospects with your communications messages, to best “hook” their interest, even in such a short space of time.

As consumers increasingly view such video content on mobile devices, either smartphones or tablets, the data that we collect (preferences, interests and histories) becomes more attributable to an individual.  This knowledge, when coupled to an understanding of your target’s Values profile, means that it becomes possible to identify not only the products and services that consumers may be most interested in, but the way in which the messages about those products might be best communicated, in order to grab the attention of the consumer in those crucial first few seconds.  A number of commentators in the digital marketing space have pointed to the potential threat of targeted online advertising content being viewed as “uncanny” by consumers, even detrimental, as consumers view the invasion of their browsing privacy as unnerving.  It could be argued that ensuring such messages are communicated in a way that is more suited to the Values profile of those you are trying to reach, may lead to a more comfortable experience for the viewer and alleviate some of these concerns.

Which brings us back to online advertising and the 5-second compulsory viewing I experienced, just the other day. I began to realise that, rather than being restricted to "only" 5-seconds in which to sufficiently grab my attention to encourage continued viewing, this actually represented a massive opportunity for the creators of these adverts. 5-seconds of my undivided attention.  Too short to step away from the tablet I was watching the video on, yet impossible to bypass.  If the advert was sufficiently relevant and delivered in a way that resonated with my own beliefs, this was a rare period of assured viewing.

In today’s ever more cluttered and time-scarce world, such an interval suddenly seems more like a golden opportunity, rather than being as restrictive as it first appears.