Are You In-The-Flow, Or In-The-Way?

18 11 2008

Three days ago, P&G GM Interactive Marketing and Innovation Ted McConnell said “I’d really rather not buy any more banner ads on Facebook.” Why?

“Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody.”

I’ve seen Ted speak a number of times at conferences, and he’s a very smart guy.

For me, he hits the nail on the head when he talks about what consumers are “trying to do”


Are You In-The-Flow? Or In-The-Way?

Repeat after me: user intent matters.

One reason TV performs so well is that because people turn to it looking for entertainment. As a user, I’ll give my attention to whatever entertains me. If what happens to entertain me is an ad, that’s OK.

Why? It’s part of what I’m doing.

View Vs. Do

A challenge for Facebook is that people are often trying to do something. Every user knows from experience that the “in-the-flow” stuff is in the middle of the page, and the “in-the-way” stuff (the ads) is at the periphery.

Guess where users focus their attention.

I’m not saying Facebook ads are a bad idea. The targeting is really good. And, some users are on there just farting around — if we’re smart and what they’re “doing” isn’t really important, we can get their attention. Besides, if they’re on Facebook and not on TV, it really doesn’t matter how great TV is at selling: we have to be where our consumers are.

What matters about what Ted said is that you are ALWAYS better off being in-the-flow (e.g. a branded app that helps you do something) rather than in-the-way.

It’s not just about where the eyeballs are. It’s about where the attention is.

View Vs. Do And The New YouTube Ad Format

13 08 2008

It’s no secret that banner ads have distressingly low click-through rates.

The question is, why?

Allow me to share a pet theory of mine that I call “View Vs. Do”.

TV is a “view” medium: “I’ve got some time to kill, let’s see what’s on”.

The Internet is a “do” medium: “I’ll check the scores on ESPN, return some emails, and post to my blog.”

At my company, we’ve often seen higher click-throughs and actions taken from random banner ads on CNN than from banner ads on places where we instintively know our consumers want to do something. I believe it’s because when people are task-focused, even an interesting ad gets ignored because “it’s not what I’m doing right now”.

If that’s true, the ideal web audience may be one that’s sitting on its keester not really doing anything but clicking around looking for interesting stuff. And that may be the YouTube audience.

That’s why I’m excited about the new YouTube ad format. If it works the way I think it will, I’d expect to see greater engagement and higher click-throughs from video ads here than almost anywhere else. This may be one of the web’s first significant “view” destinations, with TV-like receptivity to good ads.

Let’s hope so. We need sight, sound and motion to sell.