Engaging consumers in the age of ad aversion
June 19, 07
Noor Fathima Warsia
The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2007 had more on that vital consumer connect in the second half of the day as well. Sessions revolved around the right approach to connect with the audience and about the difference that consumer participation can make to a brand’s image.
Ad aversion is probably as common a phrase in advertising today as is consumer engagement. Microsoft and Starcom MediaVest Group (SMV) collaborated on a study to understand consumer behaviour that leads to ad avoidance and what could be done to ‘avoid’ that. The results of this study were unveiled for the first time in the session ‘How to engage consumers in the age of ad avoidance’.
The speakers in the session were Stephen J King, Global Research Director, Microsoft, and Kate Sirkin, EVP, SMV Group, who replaced Chris Dobson, VP, Global Sales, Microsoft Online Services Group, and Renetta McCann, CEO, SMV Group, respectively.
King and Sirkin took the audience through the dos and don’ts of advertising, stating that advertising was invasion of the personal space of a consumer and that an advertising professional and advertiser should remember this in their efforts to connect with the consumers. They pointed out that consumers today were paying to avoid advertising messages.
The first ‘don’t’ that the duo enumerated was ‘Don’t be a Marketer Overshadow (MOS)’. King explained, “The consumer’s space should be respected. Entry is a proposition; right to stay is by invitation.” The second ‘don’t’ was ‘Don’t expect something for nothing’. Sirkin said that an advertiser had to earn the right to communicate with the consumer.
She pointed out that an advertisement shown before the consumer was downloading something was not appreciated, and that advertising should be done simultaneous to any activity that the consumer had chosen to do.
A ‘do’ in the list was ‘Do be a welcome surprise’. The duo cited various examples to show that gratification of some kind was welcome – whether it was a ‘thank you’ note, a stylishly done brochure or just a little gift – chances were that the consumer would be more receptive to actions like these.
The fourth point here was ‘Whatever you say, say it well’. A general feedback that Microsoft and SMV Group had from this study was that the audience was willing to look at advertising that was entertaining and relevant, and that both these elements were missing from most of the communications today. Agencies and advertisers have to refine their ways of communicating if they want to be heard and remembered.
The final point of this session was ‘Do let go’. King said, “Get comfortable with the chaos. As adverse individuals appreciate space to make a brand their own, they want to personalise it, shape it and own it.”
The last session of the day was on ‘Ambient media – Friend or Foe’, presented by Daniela Krautsack, Managing Director, Magic Moments, the creative unit of Mediacom Vienna. Krautsack’s presentation had some of the most ‘engaging’ examples done across various counties. The case studies concentrated on ambient media, but examples of modes like user generated content (UGC) on TV was also shown. The presentation also brought under the scanner some of the issues that the medium is facing.
For Krautsack, ambient really could be in every aspect of the consumer’s life and when used smartly, the medium could play a very important role in any media plan. She spoke about the PR through mass media, WOW and WOM effect that this medium can create, the impact it has on TG Lifestyles and so on. Some of the drivers of this medium that she identified were audience participation, online lifestyle and eco lifestyle.
Some of the current topics that give ambient strength comes in eco-friendly marketing; presence of QR codes, bar codes, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification); UGC and how it can be extended to ambient media; personalisation of messages in the medium; the empathy space that the medium can offer and brands can take advantage of; modes like trial and retail becoming more of an entertainment exercise than just shopping.
She also spoke of the various issues that this medium is facing that ranges from ethical issues to safety issues to environment issues. Giving a word of caution here, Krautsack said that the advertiser had to be wary on these points to manage a productive ‘conversation’ with their target audience.