What is the Value of Advertising? The Social contract!
Back in 2007, the city of Sao Paulo introduced a law called "Lei Cidale Limpa" or the "Clean City" law. Led by the populist mayor Gilberto Kassab, the law had a simple premise. All forms of outdoor advertising were to be removed from the city; no billboards, no video screens, no posters, no 48 sheets, no bus sides, no ads, nothing! Cleaning up this "visual pollution" obviously had positive and negative effects. Some said the city looked more beautiful and others said it removed the colour of the city.
I really wonder if people missed it? I wonder if anyone noticed? I wonder if it affected sales.
Billboards add little in the social contract with the viewer; we can still walk about and breathe air without ads. In television however, the social contract is clear, other than subscription charges the adverts pay for the content.
Newspapers are the same, commercial radio ditto and many web properties are based on providing free content in return for eyeballs on adverts. The great value added success with Paid Search, is that "the search" is directly tied to the money or "the click."
When you look at Social media it starts to get really interesting. Should brands interrupt a conversation with your friends on Facebook? A playlist on Spotify? How many people skip ads on Youtube without viewing? So what would a Social contract look like in Social media? How do you gain and keep people's attention? If you are going to interrupt, what is the best way to do it?
Here are some guidelines that we work to at Unique.
1. Be relevant. So listen and listen some more.
2. Be unique, remarkable, informative or entertaining.
3. Things happen that you cannot predict, so be ready to react to both disastrous and amazing events.
4. It's a complex system, so tight governance and controls may kill it. Work with frameworks and guidelines.
5. Targeting means you can speak to specific groups or individuals. Treat people all the same at your peril.
6. If you cannot/will not measure it, don't do it!
And finally, as a brand if you are going to interrupt someone's conversation with a friend at least bring some champagne!