The new world of three-dimensional branding.
By Jayson Whitmore
In this day and age of “getting what we want when we want it,” viewers don’t want to be bothered by ads any longer. The ability to skip commercials while viewing content has been a long time coming, thanks to the development of the VCR, then TiVo, and now streaming services like Apple TV and Hulu, which enable commercial-free viewing.
Audiences view commercials as disruptive — especially unsolicited and untargeted ones — to the viewing experience. Furthermore, we, as a culture, have shorter attention spans and less time to watch live TV. When was the last time you continued watching a YouTube ad before hitting skip after the five-second grace period?
So, the million-dollar question for advertisers has become, “How do we target, engage and reach our viewers more effectively and less intrusively?”
When I attend trade conferences, I hear buzzwords like “branded content” and “user-generated content” casually thrown around. Meanwhile, brands still see the need for the 30-second spot — this is not going anywhere as live TV and sponsored digital content will always need this format. However, the TV commercial as the hero strategy, as it once used to be, has evolved with technology. It’s now a much smaller part of a larger integrated strategy where you have to hit the brand from all sides. So the paradigm shift will be more about establishing and promoting your brand values, particularly the ones that consumers associate themselves with. And telling a story that’s related to the brand attributes helps reinforce these values.
Playing off the original message of the brand, this new way of targeting audiences and building brand awareness and values will present a remix of the content in each medium. Again, the point is to engage viewers with the core values of the brand. Some are new and some are tried and true, so how do you discover that great idea for engaging content that’s on-brand without giving it some shelf life?
The biggest question I get when pitching an idea is, “Why?” followed by, “What are the metrics?” The ad dollars are there, usually for the media buy, but my question back to the brands looking to take content viral is this: “Is there a better distribution model that might cost a little more upfront, but much less on the backend?”
The 30-second spot is a great start, but what if you back it up with relevant content, such as a live experiential piece, a web game, or a social media push — short digestible spots that can be consumed on many platforms?
In the end, the opportunity is to think about campaigns more three-dimensionally. So if the traditional spot or print ad doesn’t get to the user, the new media and mobile content just might.
(Our main image is from the Samsung Try On A Six campaign: Working with R/GA, this WebGL microsite showcases the Galaxy S6 features with a series of CG and video vignettes, and emulates holding the GS6 in your hand, via a desktop browser, using a mouse or phone to control the virtual S6.)
Jayson Whitmore is partner/executive creative director at Los Angeles and Seattle-based We Are Royale, a concept-oriented design and digital production studio.