Wednesday, May 09, 2007

If You Tame Me....

(continued from The Time is Now, see 5/1/07 below)

“If you tame me, then we shall need each other.
To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”

The Little Prince
Antoine de St. Exupery

The Little Prince is a delightful book full of profound insights about life and love. Highly recommended, if you haven’t already read it.

There’s a chapter in the book where the little prince is learning about love and friendship from a fox. “What does that mean – ‘tame’?” asks the little prince. “It means to establish ties,” answers the fox.

We are all creatures of habit. Although each of our habits is unique, we all follow a regular routine.

  • we wake up at the same time every day, perhaps to a radio that’s tuned to the same station every day
  • we drive to work along the same route, passing the same signs
  • we read the same daily newspaper
  • we read the same business or personal magazines month in and month out
  • we watch our favorite TV programs every day
  • we sometimes surf the internet, but we return to our favorite sites regularly
We establish ties with the media that tame us; they become part of the fabric of our lives.

They are our friends, always welcome, comfortable to spend time with, and trusted. From childhood, we are taught to be wary of strangers. When a stranger tells us something, we listen with caution. We are trusting of our friends. When a friend tells us something, we are more receptive.

It should come as no surprise that advertising is more effective when it is communicated through a vehicle we trust. Studies confirm this. For example, a 2003 study by Knowledge Networks looked at “reader involvement” in relation to ad recall. Reader involvement was determined by such things as frequency of reading (e.g. read four out of four issues), reading time per issue, and preference (e.g. citing the magazine as “one of my favorites”). The study found that highly involved readers were three times more likely to recall ads than readers with average levels of involvement, and 10 times more likely to recall ads than readers with low levels of involvement. Other similar studies show similar results. In other words, readers are more responsive to advertising in their favorite publications.

It baffles me how often this insight into human behavior is ignored in advertising. How many times have you seen an advertiser or its agency painstakingly investigate and compare magazines to find the absolute best, top tier, ultimate magazines to reach a specific target audience with the right message in the right environment? Then, with hopeful ambitions to influence the attitudes and behavior of targeted prospects, they set as an objective or goal to maintain continuous advertising pressure against this target audience. And after all that, advertise in these paramount publications a total of…what…four times? Based on an informal survey among a few publishing friends of mine, it seems less than five percent of advertisers run continuously in all 12 issues of a monthly magazine. Twelve contacts in a year is apparently considered way too much exposure against the absolute best, top tier, ultimate targeted readers with the right message in the right environment for most advertisers. Go figure.

The average price of a :30 in the Super Bowl exceeds $2.5 million. Why do advertisers continue to pay top dollar for the Super Bowl and other media events?

In part, of course, it’s because of the opportunity to reach large numbers of people at one time. We know that’s true. But partly, too, it’s because advertisers believe higher levels of involvement (or engagement, if you prefer that term du jour) viewers have with these programs translates to higher levels of response, which justifies the premium cost.

Fortunately, consumers enjoy the relationships they have with their media every day, and advertisers do not have to pay premium prices to benefit from those relationships.

Relationships matter. We should consider that in our *new* definition of advertising. Better yet, we should consider that more in our practice of it.

(to be continued…)


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