advertising is a great way to instigate digital engagement, but what happens next?

Using TV advertising to create the ‘spark’ to drive your digital engagement strategy, but what happens next?

As readers of any of my previous articles on digital engagement strategy will be aware, I am a long-term advocate of the concept of ‘joined up brand experiences’.

As such, Google’s latest ‘Think with Google’ piece, detailing how ‘second screeners’ will frequently turn to their mobiles, tablets other devices in order to do additional ‘real time’ research after spotting something interesting on TV comes as little surprise.

Maybe you’ve done it yourself? ‘Just exactly how old is Tom Cruise now?’ one may wonder, after glimpsing the latest Mission Impossible Trailer on TV – or indeed, whilst actually sitting the cinema. ‘Wow, that new BMW i3 looks really cool. I wonder how much they are?’ ‘Ooh, that looks tasty, but where can I buy Tamarind water, locally?’ Countless questions, large and small, profound or trivial, flitter through our increasingly impatient, information-hungry minds

And the solution?

In most cases, out comes the phone or iPad and voila! Within 5 seconds, we have the answer at our fingertips.

What’s interesting from a media perspective is the uniquely timely and relevant advertising opportunity presented by this behavior, behavior that Google terms ‘micro moments’.

There is no doubt whatsoever that ‘micro-moments’ represent a fast growing trend in audience behavior, with a staggering eighty four percent of smartphone users having their devices by their side whilst watching TV, and twenty nine percent reportedly regularly using said device to ‘look up’ additional, show related content during the transmission. This also directly applies to TV ‘commercials’.

Users will increasingly respond to spotting something interesting in a TV ad by reaching for their devices to do further research, right there, in the moment.

Google’s article includes some compelling data illustrating this phenomenon in relation to the brand Nest’ TV advertising and it’s immediate impact on search volume relating to the brand. The effect is pronounced and immediate, with search volumes spiking in the order of 5-10 times during and immediately after the TV ad hit the screen.

Here’s where the opportunity lies. What, exactly, have we planned in advance to display to all of these ‘pre-qualified’, interested, information-hungry potential consumers, now bombarding our digital channels in a quest to ‘find out more’?

Sadly, in most cases, it appears the answer is ‘nothing at all’.

Far too many businesses are failing to capitalize upon what, in actual fact, could be the biggest opportunity in advertising today. And the most disappointing part of all this ought to be that the vast majority of the hard work and expense has already been invested by this stage. We’ve created the ‘ad’ we’ve bought the (expensive) media, and, joy-of-joys, we’ve attracted the attention of the very consumer that we are hoping to influence… and then what?

Just when we have them on the hook, when they have voluntarily ‘raised their hand’ to pro-actively indicate interest in our product, brand or service, we ignore them.

Because we haven’t thought about ‘what happens next’.

So, what, exactly, did we want, or expect our target consumer to do next?

Thinking about it, isn’t it rather obvious that we should endeavor to kindle this fragile spark of interest, generated by our fleeting presence on TV, as if our very (commercial) lives depend upon it? Otherwise, what’s the point of instigating ‘engagement’ in the first place? Do we expect the audience to simply ‘remember us next time they are in the marketplace?’ Does anyone really believe that marketing still works like that, in today’s always-on, information-overloaded age? And is that sufficient justification to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds on media? Just to generate a fleeting ‘brand impression’.

Maybe in the old days, but not any more.

TV is still an unparalleled medium for reaching mass audiences quickly and for rooting out those few n’ths of a percent of ‘potentially interested individuals’. In short, TV is great for creating that initial spark.

Having achieved, at great effort and expense, the very thing that we set out to achieve, the ‘attention’ of our desired audience, it’s now time to build upon this rare, precious and fleeting thing by building attention into ‘interest’ and, hopefully, on to ‘desire’ to take the next step, whatever that may be.

Ed Stafford or Bear Grylls would not be impressed. Nor would Bruce Springsteen. All of whom know only too well that you ‘can’t start a fire without a spark’. But starting fires takes a lot of hard work. The spark is only ever the beginning. Indeed, even the brightest of sparks does not guarantee a flame. Sparks are by definition fragile, insubstantial, ephemeral things.

So, my question to marketers everywhere is this. What’s the plan for ‘what happens next’? Have we sufficiently planned for what happens if our advertising actually works? What kind of experiences could we deliver to ensure that we nurture our fragile sparks of interest into blazing fires of interest and desire to learn more? And – vitally – how should all of this effect how we plan – and budget – our campaigns in the future?

Because, if we obsessively focus all of our time, effort and budget on the almighty ‘ad’ and not properly consider how we go from a spark of attention to a sustainable campfire of attention and desire, we may well find that we end up, metaphorically speaking, ‘out in the cold’.

In closing, here’s something to think about.

What could you do if you were to take say just 10% of the your current ‘media’ budget (awareness) and instead spend it on developing high quality, highly engaging ‘digital experiences’ designed to pull in consumers with the power of a Death Star tractor-beam (Interest and Desire / ‘what happens next’).

It’s a question that I’ve been asking for a while now; and it’s one that I firmly believe more and more marketing managers will need to ask themselves and their teams in the near future.

Read the entire Google article, here