Advertiser by Day, Human by Night

Most of us in advertising are two people: By day, we’re spending our time thinking of exciting ways to get consumers to pay attention to what a brand has to say. But when we go home at night and relax on the weekends, we’re regular consumers. We browse the web, watch TV, and chances are, we ignore advertising at all costs because, well, most ads are just annoying.

On the job, too many of us forget that we’re real and opinionated viewers, readers, and consumers; we tend to forget observations and opinions we have about advertising the minute we walk into the office. If given the chance, our night-selves would probably have a few choice words for our day-selves.

So to all those ad creators, planners, and buyers out there — how many of you:

  1. Really think about your own experiences, and…
  2. See the fruits of your labor across media through the eyes of a consumer not an ad professional?

It’s time to start thinking about the ads after they leave our brains and our desks. It’s time to merge “day you” and “night you.” Here’s how we can do that:

We have to start by thinking about where your advertising is going to run, and use that to guide creative. I mean, really think about it. Let’s stop only looking at creative on our laptops, in a client presentation, on a big conference room flat screen TV, or in controlled focus groups. We need to start thinking about and looking at creative in the context of where it will actually run — alongside four other ads, at the commercial break after a cliffhanger on Empire, before the news segment about Beyonce’s pregnancy, or right over an article we are reading. We need to ask ourselves things like: What will get attention? What will tell the best story and how impactful will it be when it is part of a much larger experience? And how fast or slow do we need to do it?

I realized just how big the disconnect between our “day selves” and our “night selves” is when I was on maternity leave and watched more TV than I have in a long, long, long time. Seeing our interactive ads live and alongside the excitement of the show I was watching made me return with a mission to review creative through a different lens, thinking about consumers’ experiences and frames of mind at the time they see our ads. I found myself dissecting my own viewing experience, asking myself whether this was something that would really get my attention, what parts of the ad I’d really focus on as opposed to the parts the advertiser probably thinks I would, or whether it was anything I would want to do. If we can answer those questions, we would have a much better chance of creating an experience that actually matters — that makes a lasting impression, that doesn’t prompt a consumer to tune out, and most importantly, that generates return.

Next, (and this is a pretty simple and easy one) let’s stop buying ads we don’t want to see. For example, if seeing the same video 15 times in a row in an hour annoys you, why are you buying it for your clients? Or, if you hit “Skip Ad” the second the button appears, maybe those aren’t the placements where you want to be running ads. As you’re planning, imagine yourself on the site you want to run your ads on, and then ask yourself how and where an ad there would work for you? If not, chances are that it won’t work for most people.

To wrap this point up in an after-school-special-style, if you treat others how you want to be treated, then buy ad experiences that you would want to experience.

If we all start creating and running ads that would catch our attention, we stand to actually make advertising much better and more effective. And should this happen, I think there’s a pretty good chance that our day-selves and night-selves will start liking each other.

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