Columbus, OH — I went to YouTube this morning to watch the newest Samsung Galaxy commercial, hoping it would be as funny as my husband promised. But, first I had to wait through a Dropcam spot on pre-roll. No worries, the hopeful graphic promised, you’ll be able skip the ad in 5 seconds. I watched the countdown, not the commercial.
That’s the dichotomy of advertising today: Youtube is home to commercials so compelling that they earn millions and millions of views by people who actually seek them out and others that we’re forced to sit through in exchange for the experience we really came for. As Mark Goldstein once said, “People hate advertising in general but they love advertising in particular.”
The challenge isn’t a new one. On this season of Mad Men, our flawed hero Don Draper said, “I keep thinking about the basic principle of advertising. There’s entertainment and you stick the ad in the middle of the entertainment like a little respite. It’s a bargain. They’re getting the entertainment for free, but they have to listen to the message. But what if they don’t take the bargain at all?”
The new formats have made advertising more interruptive, more of the bad guy in a bargain between advertisers and content developer – one in which the consumer is simply held hostage. Wait, not yet, they say. Watch this first and then we’ll let you have what you came for. Cindy Gallop speaking at the Changing Advertising Summit, said it best, “What they communicate is that advertising is a very bad thing and therefore people must be tricked cajoled, persuaded, begged, bribed, and blackmailed into watching it.”
The opportunity for advertisers starts with not creating advertising that begs to be skipped. Buying less media that makes advertising the interruptive bad guy and using creativity to create experiences people want to spend time with. As Gallop said, “We have to move from making good advertising to making advertising good.” That’s the hardest shift our industry will ever attempt.
In my own example from this morning, we want to be Samsung, not Dropbox. So, what does Samsung do that makes their videos the content – not the interruption? Three things:
Earn an invitation: Last week, 1 million owners of Samsung’s Galaxy phone had the opportunity to download rap star Jay-Z’s latest album three days before its official release. To get the album they just had to download an app – which will let Samsung push them more valuable offers over time. The high-profile opportunity came in the form of a 3-minute commercial aired during Game 5 of the NBA finals. Eleven million people watched the game, but another 24 million sought out the ad on YouTube. Every person who downloaded the app invited Samsung to keep communicating with them.
Rally with your tribe: You’ve probably seen the predictions that Samsung could be the next Apple. Not only are they dramatically innovating the features and functionality of smartphones, they’re also trying to build a tribe to rival Apple Nation. That means one of the core audiences for their marketing is current owners – people who love their phones and see themselves as smart early adopters, members of an exclusive club. They rallied that team – igniting tons of social sharing – in the runup to the iPhone 5 launch.
Personalize it: We tend to think of personalization as data driven and operational, but it can also be inspirational. In Samsung’s latest spots, they created opportunities to explore all the things the new phones could do – seeing how people use them in real world settings and mentally picking which ones they’d want to use themselves. Remember when Apple used advertising to create confidence that we’d know how to use the newest digital innovations? Samsung is borrowing a page from that playbook with a whole new generation of technology.
BTW: Wouldn’t it be great if we could use that YouTube “skip” feature IRL?
Posted by: Leigh Householder