Thursday, September 13, 2007

How To Make Web-Advertising Worth Watching

It has become an article of faith that the Web is all about content; content is King on the Web as opposed to television where commercials are king. It seems that television networks just can't wrap their heads around the Internet and fit it into their standard commercial box. The traditional media's tactic of last resort, buying-up the competition and imposing its commercial will, just won't work with the Internet.

Businesses that want to succeed on the Web must learn how to turn their commercial message into content as a seamless entertaining presentation.

After years of website visitors first ignoring, then getting increasingly irritated with banner ads that blink, burp, and blast across their screens, there finally is a better way; advertising in the form of Web-videos that not only deliver a marketing message but are worth the time invested in watching.

There is a lot of hype surrounding so-called viral videos. Many companies have tried to create this kind of marketing vehicle but the sheer lack of commercial purpose fails to attract viable prospects and instead generates a lot of attention from the maturity-challenged segments of society. As a business you want your video to be passed on to as many additional viewers as possible, but if it doesn't attract new leads or at least deliver your message, what good is it?

There is an absolute qualitative difference between a video that is engaging, entertaining, humorous and clever that delivers a strong marketing message and a video that is just plain stupid or at best pointless.

Bold is Beautiful and Effective

We know from experience that clients are attracted when we create entertaining offbeat video campaigns that send a clear message. But as soon as we start to create the equivalent type of campaign for them, they start to get nervous.

The Web demands a bold, frontal attack that delivers an uncompromising creative presentation of what you offer; not a defensive, compromised, don't-make-a-mistake approach that tries to cover everything and anything you might do.

The average business is incredibly timid when it comes to advertising. Boring, monotonous presentations that drone on are as helpful in attracting new business as viral video food-fights or female mud-wrestling clips. There is as much difference between bizarre and bold, as there is between salacious curiosity and entertainingly effective.

The challenge for business is to take this new form of advertising and use it so that it rises above the lowly realm of boring corporate PowerPoint presentations and silly homemade video antics to the lofty, and ultimately profitable dominion of content.

Why Web-Videos Aren't Like Television Commercials

Web-commercials are not television commercials. I know big advertisers are double-dipping their ad placements by flooding the Web with their TV spots, but who really cares? If you can see it on NBC or CBS twelve times every night why would you go out of your way to watch it on the Web?

The most significant difference between television and Web-commercials is cost. According to MediaPost's Gregory Wilson in his VideoInsider newsletter, the average 30-second TV commercial costs $12,000 per second to produce. That's per second, far beyond the budgets of most businesses. You can get an entire Web-video campaign for the cost of one second of TV-level production. Of course, you're not going to have a cast and crew of hundreds working on your spot, but then the quality of scrípt, simplicity of concept, and creativity of presentation count for more than wasted exotic sets and setups.

There are lots of things people just hate about television commercials and the best of the Web-commercials avoid these irritants.

Television commercials distract viewers from the content. Nobody likes interruptions. There is not much difference on the irritation scale between a telemarketing telephone call selling aluminum siding at dinner time and a commercial that interrupts the latest adventures of 24's Jack Bauer.

About the only good thing you can say about these program-interruptions is that they provide you a bathroom and beverage break, which of course doesn't help the advertiser who just spent $12,000 per second to get to you.

Web-commercials are different. They are sought-out by people as long as they provide something more than a mundane sales pitch. If you are clever, bold, and interesting, people will not only watch, they'll remember.

Think back to when you were in school and the teacher told you to look up the answer yourself and not just rely on her to give it to you? That's because the effort of searching out the answer created a more memorable experience. Commercials are no different. Sure fewer people are going to come in contact with your Web-commercial than they would a television commercial, but then the Web-commercial is more targeted, more memorable, and far more cost effective.

Even worse than the continuous interruptions is the repetitiveness of television commercials. Sometimes you have to sit through the same obnoxious commercial multiple times in the same commercial break. Give Apple computer and Geico Insurance credít for their commitment to developing creative, entertaining campaigns that are continually evolving with new segments that build a following for the characters, product and message. These commercials actually do rise above the level of sale's pitch and achieve the status of content. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for ninety-nine percent of all the other television ads.

Because people choose to watch a Web-commercial, they don't become upset with the advertiser for inflicting repetitive psychological torture. In fact Web-commercials that are entertaining and informative will be watched over and over, and passed on to friends and colleagues.

The Bottom Line

1 Web-users choose to watch Web-videos and therefore are more receptive to the message.

2 Web-videos need to be entertaining so they are more likely to be watched repeatedly and passed on to friends.

3 Web-videos are less costly to produce so advertisers can create campaigns consisting of multiple videos on the same theme so that viewers don't get bored or irritated.

How To Turn A Pitch Into Content

If you are going to bore people to death, then Web-advertising is not for you. If all you have to say is buy my stuff, nobody is going to listen. If you are afraid to be different, you are just going to blend into the woodwork. If you think search engine optimization is going to solve all your marketing problems, well think again.

If you want to turn your advertising into content then create your next campaign on the following principles:

  • Be Clear.

  • Be Bold.

  • Be Uncompromising.

  • Be Entertaining.

  • Be Engaging.

  • Be Clever.

  • Be Humorous.

  • Create Character(s).

  • And Tell a Story.

About The Author

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit, and Contact at or telephone (905) 764-1246.

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