Video Essentials

Viewers Are Hitting the Skip Ad Button; What Can You Do About It?

“Ads aren’t what people want. They’re what’s in the way of what people want.”

That hard truth came from Scott Donaton, chief content officer for marketing agency DigitasLBi North America, speaking at his company’s newfront presentation today in New York City.

DigitasNewFront2016Digitas created the newfronts and is still the only agency that holds one. This year, it chose the provocative theme “Skip Ads” for is event, since in 2016 marketers and advertisers can’t ignore that people love to skip their product.

It’s part of the continuing movement toward consumer empowerment, Donaton said. The iPod freed people from radio ads, the DVR freed people from TV commercials, and Skip Ad buttons and ad-blockers free people from online video ads. Viewers now pay for subscription video services that don’t provide exclusive content, simply to avoid ads.

You can’t beat them, so join them: Skip the ads, Donaton said to the advertisers in the audience. When you skip the ads, you can do so much more, such as telling stories, educating, entertaining, inspiring, and winning hearts.

“Don’t get in the way of what they want, be what they want,” he concluded.

Capturing the Viewer

“Attention is fragmented. That’s why it’s so hard to earn,” said Marisa Thalberg, chief marketing officer for Taco Bell, in a discussion on brand relationships with viewers. Marketers should see their work as an ongoing conversation with the consumer. Think about delivering messages in the right way for each medium.

Taco Bell was early on Snapchat, but doesn’t worry about being first on a platform. Instead, Thalberg advised, do what feels right. Take calculated risks, but not irresponsible ones.

“We love content that feels organic. We love content that feels highly produced,” Thalberg said. Sometimes both are appropriate. It depends on the opportunity. “If you do things for the right reason and you create the right moment, anything can become a solution and an opportunity.”

Brand Messages in Virtual Reality

A session on advertising in VR video showed brands how to approach this bold new visual world.

“You have this sense of a medium that is about to breakout,” said June Cohen, head of content strategy and development for VR production company VRSE (pronounced “verse”). VR provides an opportunity for real emotional impact. Viewers don’t feel like they’re watching a video, they feel like they’re really there.

That’s the spirit brands should take when they experiment with VR. Think less about the story you want to tell and more about the experience you want to offer, Cohen advised. Just be careful with close-ups and motion, she added. In VR, you can make people nauseous if you’re not careful

Since VR is so new, is this a good time for brands to jump in? Absolutely.

“This is really the moment for visionary brands,” Cohen said. “it take a visionary brand to leap into a new medium.” The costs are high for a new medium, but the rewards are greater. interviewed Digitas CEO Tony Weisman at the event. Watch the video below (used with permission).


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  1. “The iPod freed people from radio ads” only for people who wanted music only. 91% of Americans ages 12 and older listen to AM/FM radio each week, on average 14 hours per week.

    People want to hear what’s relevant to their lives, they want to be entertained. As the legendary adman Howard Gossage said, .”The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads, listens to, or watches ads. People read, listen to, or watch what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”

    When an ad is crafted to interest the audience, it becomes less of an interruption, and more of a benefit.

    The problem is, most radio ads are poorly crafted. My mission is to teach broadcasters and advertisers how to touch the hearts of listeners. When we’re successful, listeners continue to listen and respond.

    Posted by Jeffrey Hedquist | May 6, 2016, 9:18 pm
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