Some months ago I was discussing the demise of long copy advertisements on a train journey with my dear friend: I asked him if thought the amount of time we spend online had shortened our attention spans and if this had led to the demise of long copy ads?
“Oh no my dear boy!” Boomed the reply. “The decline began long before that, you see the problem stems from when the industry started to place more emphasis on art and less on the copy, this happened at least ten years before the internet came into its own.”
There’s no doubt that the modern world has a short attention span. We are living in the ‘INSTANT SOCIETY’ where thinking is short term and we have to digest everything fast and in small bites because there is too much NOISE. Even kids are looking to filter, hence the growth of AdBlocker.
The world of digital advertising has fallen fowl of short term thinking, with little investment in thinking, creativity or execution, too many clients ‘knocking digital ads’ off because they see them as cheap media. Bring on AdBlocker we say and save us all.
Simply put, if we made ads more entertaining (not dull and rational) the public would like them more. Look at Gorilla or Meerkat. But as an industry we produce 95% nonsense. Yes not someone else, but all of us, the agencies, who else do you think are making the dull, bad, ads? And web ads have created a new low, worse than door drops. So we only have ourselves to blame. No point looking at the 1% decent stuff, that’s like shouting abuse at your wife for 99 days and them giving her flowers on the 100th and saying, “look how good I am.” The very argument some use to propose why awards are bad – a false sense of security.
So we need to look at the 5% reasonable work (or 0.5% on web) but what is wrong with the 95% that doesn’t deliver. I suggest everyone reads the Magic & Logic document the IPA wrote (https://www.cips.org/Documents/Membership/PPT1098_magic_and_logic.pdf).
There is too much logic based false science being thrown around based on numbers rather than insight. It’s like painting by numbers. True salesman, creatives, designers, writers, artists don’t need a lab to know how to make things work. Yet we are trying to replace the real creative skill with ‘BLIND SCIENCE’ as it’s known, misguided post rationalism. It’s the same as looking at the Mona Lisa and then trying to use science to explain why it appeals and then recreate it – you can’t and never will. (Read up on the ‘NUMERIC SOCIETY’ – how common sense and quality judgment has been replaced by numbers – take education, health and many other public services.)
Great art like advertising is always surprising, new and different. Those who seek to formulate advertising are misguided and don’t understand it. Yet we are seeing a lot of companies praying on big clients and getting them to place an over belief in metrics to make them feel safe. Sadly accountants buy number over knowledge. No one is investing in understanding the art, or developing it, well except CBS and their long copy competition – well done guys.
The human mind is way above numbers and logic. This is the big mistake the Direct Marketing industry made; it played a numbers game and forgot that salesmanship is an art not a science. The web has the worse response rate of any marketing medium, and is following the same route. So anything we think we know works probably doesn’t.
I think eye tracking is interesting but I would never use it than as something to support a sales argument, I certainly wouldn’t use it to make a key decision – humans are better qualified to do that. And you can trick it. I’ve seen tests that show we look at eyes and faces first, yep and so what? Doesn’t mean you take in the message or buy the product. Men would look at a sexy woman but we found it didn’t sell cars. Selling is far too complicated an art to reduced it to simple data.
So we need to clean the slate, ignore all common wisdom and beliefs and go back to basics, psychology – how humans respond and react and what drivers and emotions are at play.