Friday 30 September 2016

Three things your ad agency isn't telling you about changes in ad technology

Published 25/08/2016 | 02:30

Even if you don't 'get' social media's Snapchat, you need to get onboard with it
Even if you don't 'get' social media's Snapchat, you need to get onboard with it

If you work for a big company that uses ad agencies to place your marketing, you need to start paying attention yourself to what's going on. Here are three things your ad agency may not be telling you.

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1 Your ad gets way less views on TV than two or three years ago

Your ad agency may be assuring you that TV is still the goliath in terms of general branding placement. What they're not telling you is that there's been a big drop in the number of times your ad is seen on TV (which is the only thing you actually care about when spending those big bucks).

For instance, Ireland's Television Audience Measurement (TAM), which is quoted liberally by agencies, says that "Irish adults watch more TV now than 10 years ago". What they don't say is that their own figures show a huge drop - around 25pc in the last three years alone - in the number of ads consumed by people they say are watching TV.

And this is because ordinary households now watch way more 'time-shifted' (recorded or on-demand) TV programmes and movies than before.

Critically, your ad agency may not tell you that a huge number of young people barely watch live TV at all, or even a TV set. (International figures show Ireland watches more video television content on phones than other countries.)

TV still has the biggest single impact in advertising. But it's simply not as powerful as it once was. And any agency that tells you otherwise, or points to figures that appear to show no change in TV consumption, is misleading you.

2 Pop-up and 'takeover' ads for phones are doomed

One of the online ad options your agency might suggest is an 'interstitial' ad, one which takes over the screen or becomes very prominent. While these ads annoy the hell out of users, they have always been considered worth it from an ad-spend perspective, because they can't be ignored (they often need to be manually closed by the user using an 'x' button tap). But they now look to be in mortal danger. Google has just issued an edict that, from January next year, any website that allows pop-up ads on their mobile sites will be downgraded in terms of search results.

"Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible," said Doantam Phan, a product manager for Google in charge of the changes. "This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller."

It doesn't ban all pop-ups: legal notices and modestly-sized banner ads will still be okay. But those screen-killer notices will soon be toast.

3 Snapchat can't be ignored - it is about to become an ad-branding goliath

Although it is now just about mainstream, Snapchat still causes embarrassed silences in meetings where the majority of participants are over 30. No other massive social media service causes such a divide in usage (or even understanding) between 'youth' and 'non-youth'. Many people admit that they don't get it. And, having gotten to grips with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, they don't want to dive into another social media platform.

And yet Snapchat is a giant. It has consumption metrics that make it an obvious channel for branding campaigns. Consider how many people use it in Ireland - around one million, according to the most recent data from Ipsos MRBI. And two-thirds of this population uses Snapchat every day.

But it is the nature of what Snapchat provides that is the key to its ad potential. Posts aren't 'shared' or 'liked' like other channels. Instead, content is consumed in huge chunks (and created in smaller chunks). In this regard, it is a rival to TV for advertisers: a branding platform. Ireland-focused brands such as Cadburys and Jameson have already started to use Snapchat for marketing, although it has been a UK-first strategy as Snapchat still concentrates on large territories and doesn't offer services such as geofilters only for Ireland (the social network says these are coming to Ireland "soon").

So if you're not considering Snapchat because your marketing person (internal or outsourced to an agency) doesn't 'get it', you're falling behind a competitor or foregoing an opportunity to outshine them.

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