Converting Passive Ads into Active Engagement Ads

Brian KieserActive EngagementLeave a Comment


Can professional marketers learn from grade school teachers? It’s a compelling question. And, there may very well be a good case to answer yes. You see, there has been a movement in early childhood education that increases the effectiveness of teachers, and the challenges they face are strikingly similar to those faced by traditional marketers. And if that’s not enough, a recent study by Google and Ad Age, further confirms it.

The Bar is Raised

For many years, advertising was entirely passive. But, once the Internet sprung to life, marketers quickly realized the old rules wouldn’t work on this new media format. So marketers began building interactive elements into their online advertising, and found not only that this new and engaging approach worked, but also that it was easily trackable. This engagement and tracking ability has raised the bar of what advertisers expect from their ad dollars.

However, traditional media advertising, by its very nature, continued to be passive. At first this made sense; after all, there was a distinct line between the online world and the traditional media world. When you walked out the door, you left your computer behind. However, with the rapid rise in the popularity of mobile phones, nearly everyone has an interactive device in hand, and increasingly, a wearable device.

An opportunity, primed to be leveraged

Yet change does not come easily. To this day, traditional marketers still make the conscious decision to rely on old science, built around repetition and recall, and not take advantage of the great opportunity the mobile device presents.

A vicious cycle ensues: as advertisers see diminishing returns from repeat impressions, they double down on this strategy and buy more media than is needed. These media inefficiencies result in a downward sloping ROI at some point in the campaign’s life. Why not step away from this cycle and try something new?

A similar problem and solution in the classroom

Let’s return to the lesson from the elementary grade classroom—a place where engagement is a proven way to help kids learn. Passive advertising is like that awful social studies teacher you had in school, standing at the front of a class, droning on about a subject, hoping the kids are paying attention. Why would you want to pattern your advertising after that?

Well, there has been a movement in teaching known as Active Engagement, and it’s backed by some real research and science. This movement can teach marketers a lesson about adding engagement to a traditionally passive environment. They’ve seen a difference in how their kids learn, retain, and process the information they receive in class if educators come out from behind the podium, and engage the students in an interactive dialogue.

Connect the dots, and start seeing positive returns

There is a direct correlation between the goals of teachers in reaching their students, and the goals of marketers/advertisers in reaching their target market. The point of successful advertising is to teach customers the value of your products and services, and it’s time to engage them to do so.

confuscius-RSThe Active Engagement movement references the Ancient Chinese proverb from teacher and philosopher Confucius, which we can update for today’s marketing:

Tell me, I will forget
Show me, I may remember
ENGAGE me, I will understand.

If you are relying on recall only, chances are your target will forget your message by the time the next 30-second spot rolls. But, when your target consumer understands? You have them. Period. And the opportunity to get them to understand, as it relates to your traditional ad spot, is the mobile device.

So whether it’s our kids’ grade school teacher or Confucius, these examples can teach us traditional marketers a lesson about reaching beyond the page and the 30-second spot, and engaging the target market in an interactive dialogue.

Not convinced? Just ask Google about engagement

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 10.24.04 AMWhile engagement and traditional advertising may be a new concept, it’s not necessarily new to advertising, and we don’t have to go back as far as Confucius to understand its benefits. We can look to our digital counterparts, and the last 20 years of online advertising. Take, for instance, Google’s study “Brand Engagement In the Participation Age”

This study was conducted in the context of online advertising and engagement, but it provides great insights that can help traditional advertisers manage engagement effectively with their advertising. It goes on to point out that today’s consumers are actively engaged with brands, and that engaged consumers buy more.

So if you aren’t adding an interactive element to your TV, Radio, Print, Mass Transit, or OOH advertising, you’re missing an opportunity and creating media buy inefficiencies.

For traditional media, this does mean affecting the ad¹s creative‹so adding this layer of engagement is sensitive and it¹s important to walk on the appropriate side of the line of the brand guidelines.

The fact is, whether a Direct Advertiser or Brand Advertiser you can; update your creative, walk the brand guidelines appropriately, AND get very positive returns on your media investments. Just by simply planning for the fact that every consumer experiencing your traditional ad has their mobile device on them, and selecting the right mobile technology provider.

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