We all know that grabbing, let alone keeping people’s attention is getting harder and harder. We’ve also seen the studies and stats that prove digital media’s ability to deliver bottom of the funnel, short-term objectives – most notably sales and click-through rates.
Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that marketers have become fixated on cost-effective reach – which channels can I use to deliver my strongest assets (video) to as many people as possible (reach), as cost-effectively as possible?
When the narrative is framed in this way, the simple answer is likely to be the use of very efficient digital channels, such as Facebook or YouTube. The CPMs you pay for on YouTube and Facebook are very competitive when compared to traditional media, specifically TV – and particularly when considering the audience declines faced by traditional TV.
But the danger here is opting for the easy solution, instead of the effective one.
Yes, efficiency is important, but putting too much focus on it can seriously compromise effectiveness. Unlike an instant sale, key metrics such as awareness and consideration can take months and years to build and measure. So what does that mean when it comes to planning media?
Not all reach is created equal
I’m not arguing that reach is not important. In fact, it’s essential for success. But not all reach is created equal!
To succeed in the attention economy, brands need reach that delivers an outcome beyond just media metrics. At the end of the day, the goal of every brand is to sell more product, not reach the maximum number of people for the least amount of spend.
As an industry we need to move away from an over-simplistic approach of focusing on efficiencies and give equal attention to what is effective. And that is good creative in a great environment, not average work in efficient channels.
There are many studies demonstrating the impact of creative on results. Depending on the study you choose, this impact can be anything from 40% to 70%, with variables including media format, traditional TV, online video, and more.
There are also plenty of studies showing that media channels also have an impact on results. As Dr Karen Nelson-Field’s research with ThinkTV, The Benchmark Series, states: “People definitely pay more attention to mobile, but this benefits all platforms. TV on TV is stronger than Social Video’s best device.”
Why? Because “visibility (coverage and pixel rendering) correlates strongly with attention and sales impact”. The more of the screen your ad takes up, the more visible it is, and so the better the attention it gets, leading to improved sales.
Effectiveness trumps efficiency
Efficiency on its own is counter-productive. It needs to be recalibrated to include considerations around effectiveness. To be truly effective, you’ll need to pay a little more to get creative work that is able to demand the attention of your audience.
You’ll also need to invest a little more into media that isn’t as efficient as YouTube and Facebook, and dare I say it, not as sexy – but delivers strong, sustainable results that will drive your business forward. This, of course, will require a little more time and planning.
We need to develop work that is effective in the task it’s designed to do, not just an efficient way of getting messages to market.
The audience you are targeting has a lot of other things going on in their life that are a hell of a lot more important and interesting than that widget we are trying to sell to them. If your objective is to just efficiently reach them, you’ll not stand any chance in getting their attention.
To get their attention, we need insightful ideas and surprising creative work. Work that stands out and grabs people’s attention. It needs to be delivered in ways that allow that work to effectively deliver the intended message.
In my view, it’s time to start thinking of marketing as an investment in creating demand rather than a cost to the business of merely converting customers. The alternative is getting lost in a sea of mediocrity.