…A notoriously difficult thing to do. Certain things get stuck in the media business psyche that are extremely hard to shift. Mostly placed there are the sales side of the business to increase a perceived value of something. Let me give you some examples.
Print Publishing, specifically magazines. Just 23 years old I remember asking my first boss why we got a premium for right hand pages and she looked me in the eye and said with conviction, “Because people see the right hand pages more than the left”. I had a media research firm called MAGtrack a few years ago and we studied this notion for the purpose of selling brands magazines more effectively. Repeatedly, when we did recall studies, there was little to no difference in the recall scores.
Move the clock forward to 2010 and I started work at National Cinemedia. Imagine my surprise that the first thing I was shown was a new study on cinematic ads versus regular TV production value ads shown on the big screen. Apparently, I was told, media buyers often state the reason they wouldn’t run in theater was because they didn’t have the right type of copy and that they needed James Cameron to personally supervise their creative if they were to run in theater.
Of course, what the research showed was that a TV ad run in theater left a bigger recall impression than a regular TV ad and against a cinematic ad creative the difference was literally imperceptible. It didn’t matter, yet I almost guarantee after even 12 years of pointing to ad recall for all ads some media buyers are still citing this reason.
So we come to the present day. Today the new myth is that gamers have to be treated entirely differently than any other type of advertiser to avoid them becoming incensed and upset that a brand had the impertinence of showing them a brand message. The notion is, that all gaming related ads must be developed specifically for the purpose of that game or league etc.
Here’s the problem, once again the research just doesn’t bear it out! NewZoo tested this with a question recently put to gamers about brands in and around gaming and livestream and consumers were totally ambivalent, certainly no more or less than any other media.
Here’s why: Gamers are everyone and everywhere. Over 100 Million gamers play weekly in the US, over 35 Million watch gaming on Twitch weekly. So how do you sell the idea that with that kind of mass media, people have some unique sensibility that means every activation, every brand message, every creative piece has to be specifically created for them. Frankly put: they don’t.
I’m not against creativity. Indeed I got involved in the media and advertising business because I positively loved it. The fact is most of the fun that’s left should be in finding interesting and creative ways to market to people where they are, but not to the point of abstaining because of it. I’ve read so much over the last month or so telling me that gaming requires special treatment and good luck to those specialists carving out a niche. But like all media, you need a blend—creative, fun activations and your picks and hammers brand messaging to a wide and diverse audience. That’s what Thece does.
So like the ubiquitous right hand page, the incredible cinematic 60 on the big screen, the roadblock and the in game activation in AR, there’s also room for the serious work of media math and reaching the right audience with a clear message and call to action.
I think I’ll send this to the editor of Ad Age, but then again they’ll probably run the piece on a left hand page, so what’d be the point?