Jun 4, 2009

Give The People What They Want

One of the biggest disconnects I find when working with traditional ad creatives is their firm and unwavering belief that everything a brand puts out needs to be clever and entertaining in a way that creatives steeped in traditional advertising define as clever and entertaining.

Not the consumer.

The root of this problem is a misunderstanding of the web as a medium: it is not primarily an entertainment device, like television or radio. It is a tool, albeit one that can sometimes allow us to find entertainment.

Since it is a tool, the average user primarily uses it to find information. And while that information does not have to be displayed in a dry and dull manner, it’s far more frustrating to users when the information is buried inside an overly clever little video, whose full 200 seconds must be watched in order to glean the one bit of information they’d been searching for.

Similarly, the notion that different brands engender different behavior is often lost on people whose frame of reference is TV. Certain brands (e.g. Prom King Brands) naturally create more interest and more desire to play around with funny little videos than others. And while it may seem obvious to some that people play around with say, the Norelco Body Hair Grooming videos for their risqué content and the overall prurient nature of the product itself, the TV-centric idea that “you can create a great (e.g. funny and clever) commercial for any product” seems to drive many ad agencies into pushing similarly over-the-top videos for things like hand cream and staple guns.

The solution, again, is not about boring the consumer to death. It’s about listening to the user experience team (or actually hiring one) and creating something that’s in line with why users are going to that particular patch of the web. Sometimes it’s just to buy something, sometimes it’s to learn more about specific features, other times it’s to check out pricing and options. It’s rarely (if ever) to watch a really funny three minute video at a microsite featuring nothing but other really funny three minute videos.

So why do we keep heading down that road?

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