Kavita Thakur
Guest Article

Why repurposing TV ads for digital channels can fail to grab online attention

Our guest author talks about the importance of tailoring ads for different platforms to overcome attention challenges online.

Given the ever-evolving and complex media landscape, brand building today may be more challenging than in the past. People are spending so much time on digital and mobile devices, so that’s where brands need to reach out to them.

However, marketers need to go beyond using these platforms simply to reach out to people, and consider how they optimally use them to meaningfully connect and engage with people.

In advertising, context is critical

Unfortunately, even a good ad placed in the right channel and targeted at the right person, is no guarantee of success. However, specific contexts and formats can make a significant difference, in terms of how likely are people paying attention, how they interpret your message and how they will respond to it. This is particularly important in the fast-evolving digital space, where the consumers expect to be in control of the content they see. 

As an example, we ran a study for a travel brand, which looked at how an ad performed across a range of contexts. You may think that travel would be the best context, as this is where consumers are looking at holiday destinations and travel information. But what we actually saw was that the news and lifestyle contexts provided a better wrapper to stand out, rather than being lost among other similar travel ads and articles.

So, it’s essential to understand the surrounding context and how it fits with your messaging and campaign objectives, to avoid joining the conversation inappropriately and risking damaging your brand, in the process. Testing theories can help refine your strategy and ensure you are getting the most out of your media investment.

Customising creative makes a massive difference to viewing and impact

This major multi-ad matched cell context lab study shows the importance of customisation.

Why repurposing TV ads for digital channels can fail to grab online attention

With different inherent platform strengths, there are different requirements for ads that will appear across environments. Each environment requires something arresting to engage, but the window of opportunity is just a fraction longer on one platform, than another.

So, to ensure that you drive home your brand message within such a small space of time and encourage people to view your ad till the end, it’s essential to tailor your creative executions to the platform in question.

Why repurposing TV ads for digital channels can fail to grab online attention

Research shows that there is a general retention bias towards shorter ads. The shorter the ad, the greater the chance it will be viewed to completion. Longer ads have great storytelling potential, but they need to be highly engaging to hold the attention of viewers.

When looking at online media, it’s helpful to separate this into video versus social contexts, which we know have very different consumption patterns and experiences.

With online videos, consumers want to be entertained and have a mission-based mindset, with a focus on specific videos. Whereas, with social environments, consumers are looking for distractions to pass time, with advertisers competing for attention with friends, family and other users.

Advertisers, therefore, need to think about how their ad will engage the audience within video and keep them entertained or captivate them enough to stop scrolling within the cluttered social environment. Which essentially means that one size does not fit all for online media creatives.

Social context demands early attention

Considering social in more detail then, we also see a huge amount of variance across platforms in how consumers experience ads. The risk is that as you are competing for attention with the consumers social network, your ad could get lost in the crowded space.

This means it’s important for advertisers to tailor their delivery to the platform in question – something consumers expect advertisers to do – meaning this is from a consumer perspective a hygiene factor. But all too often, we see TV ads, designed with a lean back viewing environment in mind, repurposed for digital channels.

In these cases, we find that the ads do not fit with the surrounding context and fail to attract attention. The online attention challenge means you need to grab branded attention early and optimise ads to deal with the lack of sound in social environments, which TV ads are typically not designed for. Additionally, brands should consider how they can make the most of the potential to interact and personalise.

To thrive in today’s connected, fast changing world with more communications and channels than ever before, marketers need to align media and advertising strategies across both to maximise brand building and improve marketing RoI.

So, what does this mean for marketers?

Key learnings for marketers:

1. In digital, platforms are important, but it all starts with the creative!

2. Effective content on TV does not automatically mean success in digital

3. Campaign is more effective when content is customised for the environment

4. Platform heritage and layout differences impact how consumers view ads

5. The best context is not always the one you’d expect – it is important to stand out

(The author, Kavita Thakur, is vice president media, South Asia, insights division, Kantar)

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