December 13, 2012

Best of 2012 - Interactivity: Get Over It

Here's my 3rd post in The Ad Contrarian Best of 2012 collection. This is getting to be fun. Instead of having to write every night, I just copy and paste. So much less troublesome. It's called "Interactivivty: Get Over It" and it's from March 12, 2012

From CNNMoney, last week...
"Imagine if Joe Smith, in need of a new car... presses a button on his remote and instantly receives more information about a Ford F150, including where he can buy one. Meanwhile, Joe's wife, Sally, watches a later ad for a Sony phone. The product on the screen is sleek and modern, and Sally wants it. She can turn her emotion into ownership, purchasing the phone with the click of a button."
Yeah. Imagine if monkeys flew out of my butt.

A decade ago, paragraphs like the one above were appearing all over, promising us that interactive TV (ITV) would be the latest thing that would change everything. People would be watching a TV spot, and they'd see something they liked and they'd click and be taken to some long-form info-something. Then they'd click again and buy right from their screen.

Also, interactive web ads would be so much more appealing. engaging and enticing than traditional advertising. People would see our banners on the web and be fascinated by them and then click to learn amazing new things about our products and then order right from the page.

And our adoring customers would come to our Facebook page and engage with our brand and comment about how much they love us and share it with all their friends.

Only one problem: It's all bullshit.
It turns out that people on line react to ads the same way people off line react to them -- mostly they ignore them. And when they do bother to read them, they overwhelmingly do not interact with them.

Characterizing these ads as "interactive" isn't a description of consumer behavior, it's an  illustration of advertiser delusion.

Delusional thinking isn't just acceptable in marketing today -- it's mandatory.

While people are interactivatin' like crazy with each other, interactivity with ads is miniscule. Unappreciative bastards. Don't they realize we built all this shit just to sell them something?

The latest group to fall victim to the siren song of interactivity is Canoe Ventures, a consortium of  Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and four other cable companies that tried to resurrect ITV. Last week they shut their doors and laid off 120 people.

This is the last time I'm going to say this, so pay attention. In the digital world, people are passionate about interacting with each other -- not brands, not ads, not you, not me.

Get over it.


Chris Seiger said...

Ah, the good old delusions. The old ones are always better than the new ones. ITV was a wonderful delusion. It's been a delusion since England had a queen.

New delusions (requiring new posts in the new year) are happening daily. I would love to see a super-long rant on jargon. It's something that not only wrecks our ability to do real work, but also infects language like an STD.

Is jargon the symptom or cause of advertising delusion? Or both? Would love to hear your take.

The Czar Dictates said...

Chris: IMO jargon comes in two flavors. There's jargon that is designed to clarify, by giving an explicit shorthand name to a complex concept. It may seem obscure to outsiders, but to insiders it is helpful. Medicine, engineering, and programming are full of such jargon. Then there's jargon that is designed to obfuscate, by giving a high-sounding name to a simple or -- worst case -- empty concept. Advertising, marketing, and futurism are full of such jargon.

The acid test, IMO, is this: if you ask two users of the jargon to explain to an outsider what it means, will they give the same answer? If yes, it's useful jargon. If not, it's obfuscation.

Chris Seiger said...

Jargon is what people use when 1) they want to sound smarter than they are, and 2) they aren't smart enough to explain a concept in simple, meaningful terms.

My opinion. Could be wrong. Happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

"In the digital world, people are passionate about interacting with each other -- not brands, not ads, not you, not me."
Wrong! it will need to repeated until the heat death of the universe.

Jay said...

TiVo has (at least had) a rather cool feature where if a spot for a TV show was on, you could press a button to record the next airing of that show. It's one of the only instances where I can think of interactive advertising being successful, but it's really as perfect a scenario as possible (if you own a TiVo, you're a huge TV fan, and this is advertising for more TV watching).

What's ironic and hilarious is, no ad agency would ever bring this up as proof that interactive ads work, since TiVo is an evil company that allows consumers to ignore ads with greater ease.

Anonymous said...

There's no way that was the last time you said that.

Anonymous said...

"Don't they realize we built all this shit just to sell them something?"

The last thing we built to sell people something was TV.

And the parallels are amazing.
When do you get up for a snack?
Why do you record your favorite show?

To avoid the very reason it was built.
Sorta like online.