Back to the Future for Ad Formats

Those optimistic about advertising’s future — including us–think it depends on better creative. So let’s try to imagine what this could look like. In the current environment of hostility to tracking and data collection, it looks a lot like plain old information-sharing, which is the way advertising started.

We know advertisers love data. But how about

– Innovations that rely more on story telling and creative – like TV
– And great data inferred from sites and devices rather than tracking

Let’s say I am a consumer who owns a Ford Mustang convertible. It’s three years old,  and I’m about ready to trade it in. However, I don’t have to. It still runs, and I could keep it. What should Ford, or perhaps Chevy, BMW, or anyone else who makes a convertible do now?  What would it take to put me in the market for a new car? And why would I choose one brand?

It would take good information delivered in a non-interruptive way to a place I already visit. And by good information, I mean telling me something I don’t already know, but want or need to know. Tracking me down wouldn’t be appreciated, nor would it be necessary.

For many people, good information means a product review. That’s why Consumer Reports is so popular. Today, a “review” could be a video that demonstrates the car. Not just its beauty or its speed, but its capabilities and its price. The video could be fifteen or twenty minutes long.  It is a piece of “content” created by a brand, and placed on YouTube, where it can be found by people searching for cars.

Then ads can tell people where to find the product review. The ads can be shorter videos, banners, photos that drive traffic to the review.

The most important part of this campaign? Respect for the consumer’s time and desire. Nothing that autoplays noise. Data inferred from my devices. Useful content. No crossing the creepy line.

Although we’ve spent the past decade glorifying data, we’ve actually painted ourselves into a corner. We’ve overused it for targeting to the point where consumers are on to us and know they’re being tracked. They are voting with their ad blocking apps. If we’re not careful, we will lose the best business model that has ever presented itself for media.

And the biggest irony? All this tracking hasn’t really helped. As marketers, we are still not getting good ROI on our ad spend. Only now it’s not because we targeted incorrectly, but because we’ve opened ourselves up to fraud and made consumers angry in the bargain. We could argue that we don’t have any better an idea of who the consumer is than we did when John Wanamaker famously said that half his advertising was wasted but he didn’t know which half.

Informational creative, bought on private platforms that already have the premium audiences, are what is needed to win consumers back to trust for advertising. Our ZINC platform can provide a buying experience without data overlay gimmickery that  makes your customers angry without delivering better results.