By Eleanor Haas
As everybody knows, paid media
advertising is declining in effectiveness. Why? Because audiences have too
many options. They have more and more
media to choose among. They are deluged
with messages – to the point of information overload. They have found ways to skip TV ads. And they are captivated by new kinds of
media, such as You Tube and Facebook.
Three technology-enabled alternatives
to the status quo were discussed this morning by a panel sponsored by the law
firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. The
focus was on who owns creative content and how these ideas are paid for. What the new accepted practices will be will
have to evolve over time. But clearly,
advertising is undergoing a metamorphosis.
The challenge is what it has
always been: how to come up with a
compelling creative concept that will make the cash register ring for a product. Technology has added a new twist. Aren’t ads simply a form of content? Can’t they be interactive games or
songs? How does user-generated content
figure in this as opposed to ads created by professionals?
But once ads become content, the
creative brains behind them take on an importance greater than that of a hired
hand, something comparable to that of a star screen writer or songwriter. That’s when you get into serious questions of intellectual property ownership and compensation.
One new direction comes from
OpenAd.net, which calls itself “the world’s first online marketplace for buying
and selling advertising, marketing and design ideas.” OpenAd wants to democratize the ad businesses
by enabling students, professional free-lancers and ad agencies to compete side
by side. In addition, it wants to give
creatives a chance to benefit financially from really great ideas that work.
Creatives all over the world who
have registered with OpenAd create ads in response to briefs from ad agencies
or advertisers. Buyers who have enrolled
as OpenAd members get access to diverse creative approaches and can license these
ideas as they use them. Creatives are
compensated proportionate to the value the buyer perceives in their ideas – as
expressed in frequency of use – as opposed to the traditional one-time fee
based on time and materials.
Grey Worldwide has been
pioneering another new direction for at least five years: creating ad content as branded
entertainment. It’s also helping brands
get ownership of songs they use as well as using songs as key branding
tools. The agency becomes the brand’s
A&R consultant, proposing artists and songs as well as their interaction
with the brand. In one ad, for example,
Rihanna plugs both her own album and Cover Girl products in a format
reminiscent of MTV. In another the Black
Eyed Peas chant hip hop lyrics owned by Dr. Pepper to promote sales of Dr.
Pepper soft drinks.
GO Film, a production company,
collaborated with McCann Erickson to produce two music videos by Christopher
Guest that pitch Intel processors through original songs that incorporate
technical terms specified by Intel. The
videos, which were posted on various techie and non-techie Web sites, are
designed to deliver pure entertainment value as a basis for an enhanced brand
image. One video tells a story about a
soft-rock singer – representing Intel software – and a hard-rock singer –
representing Intel hardware – and the pleasure they bring their audience of
Advertising is still a message
controlled by a sponsor who is identified and who pays for distribution. But the nature of the message is taking on
radical new dimensions, dimensions that at times seem to erase the line between
entertainment and advertising. The times they are a’changing!