Where Advertising & Art differ - and why that needs to change (Part 1: Badcasting)
You can understand why people who work in advertising are deeply immersed in the nature of their work, it’s an interesting, fun and often fast paced industry. However this immersion has lead to some beliefs and perceptions not shared elsewhere - a disconnect which comes from being the creator and facilitator.
Whilst they are just as fond of handing out awards to each other, advertisers differ from other creators in one very key area - an investment in audience perception and a long term commitment to the impact of the work. Of course they consider demographic, targeting and they take into account current trends but beyond that the major consideration is ‘will this keep the product front of mind?’
That isn’t the same as a filmmaker who considers the narrative journey, the novelist who considers character development or the musician who considers the emotional impact of a chord change - advertising isn’t a lesser art either, just a creative process which focuses more on the destination than the journey.
The future is bright but the future is different
If my instincts and experience tell me one thing about advertising it is this - it will need to adopt some more of the rules of other creative industries if it is going to remain effective. Here’s some key reasons why:
First of all, in the digital age adverts can have cultural resonance just as much as a movie or a music release and if we study data from social media and online response there isn’t even too much of case for saying they’re less impactful in some instances.
This increased potential for audience attention and engagement is a wide open door for advertisers to go beyond just being front of mind and to create stronger and more emotional connections with their audience.
Secondly, evolving and changing mediums and their adoption by audiences are proving challenging for advertisers already and the genie is assuredly not going to return to the bottle. Whilst I’m no advocate of the ‘TV is dead’ mindset I do think it’s important to recognise that OTT services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu are going to rapidly squeeze the media landscape by reducing opportunities whilst attracting ever larger audience shares.
And finally, even where advertising can migrate to digital platforms effectively it can often be negated and has arguably less effect than before. YouTube ads are seen as being far more disruptive and annoying than traditional TV ads by younger audiences - which suggest diminishing returns for brands in the decades ahead.
Aside from keeping brands 'front of mind' the key goal of advertising is visibility, just look at the metrics if you’ve any doubts there, however digital platforms reliance on targeting, interaction and algorithm is in no way analogous to older mediums. There has been some interesting but ultimately ill advised and cynical attempts to try and make digital advertising more understandable to the traditional TV mindset but to do so is akin to advising turning up to a gunfight with a spear since ‘broadcast’ perceptions just don’t apply.
Just in case it isn’t obvious why, then consider the difference where mediums like traditional TV and radio are capable of engaging only broader audiences (that the ‘broad’ in broadcasting, folks!) whilst digital mediums have a baked in means of ensuring reach to very specific groups.
Digital mediums offer the capability to create strategies which address much more nuanced audiences where relevant messaging and content are highly effective as they respond to audience interests and perceptions. This does require more investment in identifying, segmenting and understanding audience groups and their motivations (this is type the work we carry out for brands here at EntSight) but doing so rewards in ROI and potentially makes the brands feel more relevant to their desired audiences groups. What’s not to love about that?
This was also the original advertising hustle of many digital platforms but there seems to be a current trend to for them to advise a more broadcast orientated approach which is likely to ensure brands have to invest more to bid for visibility against their competitive set rather than potentially investing less in engaging nuanced audiences. The more mercantile amongst you will no doubt understand who is winning in that situation.
In the next part of this article I’ll share some thoughts on how advertising can evolve over the next decade to respond to the changing landscape but in the meantime please feel free to engage with me on Linkedin - I love a good chat about this kind of thing 😀