Today's consumers are intelligently sophisticated when it comes to advertising. They'll applaud a clever story line that engages their attention or, in Nero like fashion, they'll give the thumbs down to a campaign that is less than captivating - by simply ignoring it or swatting it away as an annoyance.
In an age of myriad channels, from traditional TV and print to smart phones with more computing power than early space missions, the task of marketers to capture and hold attention is more difficult than it's ever been. Today's consumers expect different things from different brands. They inhabit a world where interactions are increasingly carried out on smartphones, tablets and laptops. As such, they also expect to be able access the information they are interested in on any device.
Any marketer worth their salary recognises that campaigns need to run across many channels, from the traditional to digital. And they also understand that campaigns need to be tailored to meet the needs of the specific audience. The problem is in getting it right. Brands need to understand where and how to reach their audience and then create campaigns that have a high impact on that audience. A few do it successfully, many fail miserably.
Take John Lewis for example. The UK retailer has done it yet again this year with its Christmas 'Bear and Hare' campaign. Not only has the TV ad won the British public over, but the new social media aspects of the campaign have also captured the hearts of a much younger generation. Marketing Director Craig Inglis recently commented, "We are trying to do things differently and always trying to raise the bar... this is not just a Christmas advertising campaign, it's a £7m multi-media festive extravaganza." Note the focus on the 'WOW' within multi-media..... he 'gets' it!
Virgin Money did it brilliantly when targeting a twenty something audience. A game was developed that involved smashing up a bank before the police arrived. The more that could be destroyed the higher your score. Research revealed that the target audience didn't like wasting time in bank branches and of course, they loved computer games and used the Internet a lot.
Another example is Jaguar. The luxury car brand wanted to reach what it calls the "enlightened elite" to raise the awareness of its new F-TYPE sports car. Research revealed that the brand tended to be associated with 'older' people, and that there was an untapped younger and affluent audience. Digging deeper, it identified where these potential buyers spent time and consequently put digital at the centre of its efforts to bolster its appeal to younger audiences. A digital campaign was launched that included a viral movie on Facebook and an online high-impact responsive design ad that was truly cross-screen.
Things move so fast in this industry that even banners ads - once the staple of online advertising - are no longer suitable as a sole means for reaching a target audience. The trick for brands is to not only develop new and innovative means to engage their audience but to reach them on the devices they use and love, and on the web sites they visit every day. However, there's a fine line between reaching them and bugging the hell out of them.
The advertising industry has evolved to meet these shifting dynamics and any number of ad houses wouldn't survive without a digitally focused agency somewhere beneath their umbrella. Within this context, the concept of cross-screen advertising in which digital media campaigns run concurrently on computers, mobile phones and tablets is rapidly gaining ground.
From a marketer's perspective cross-screen is the perfect tool for cutting through the digital jungle and ensuring that their message reaches their audience. However, cross-screen campaigns are not without their challenges. There's the difficulty of tracking audiences across multiple devices, a lack of common performance metrics to evaluate the success of campaigns and the complexity of creative and technical production.
But all is not lost. As per the Jaguar example, one answer to these challenges is a combination of high impact advertising and responsive design. Responsive design enables a website or ad unit to adapt to fit any screen size, while also utilising the native capabilities of different devices, whether it's a desktop PC, a smartphone or tablet; whilst high impact ensures that the advert is not only noticed by the consumer but also leaves them intrigued. The combination of them both is an unparalleled advantage brands need on their side.
Digital advertising is clearly evolving at a rapid pace driven by the anytime, anywhere expectations of consumers. Many brands get it and are responding to these new dynamics while some are still playing catch up. In short, we're seeing a new development in digital advertising where campaigns with high-impact creative designed for all platforms are set to become the new norm.