Interruption Is The Prelude to Engagement
“Don’t interrupt, it’s rude” at least that’s what I’d hear when I was little.
So eventually, you learn how to interrupt in a way that isn’t rude. You do so with timing, with skill and grace that reads the right moment and has the most impact. No point barging in all guns blazing, you’ll be heard but you won’t be really, people will switch off and carry on. You’ll get no engagement.
So, most of the time, I really don’t like ads. It’s mainly me, a little cynical at times. It’s an over 40’s thing.
I’ve been known to sit there and curse when they interrupt my favourite TV show, or when they stemmed a flow of really good tunes on some cool radio station or on my Spotify cheapo account when I had one.
If I had a list of pet hates they might go something like this.
- Happy Background Chirpy Builder Whistle tunes as some mellifluous sounding voice actor does the whole reasons to buy this product schtick
- The Hijacking of a great old tune I love to promote a product I don’t really care about.
- Charity ads that play mournful music as the next sad deserving case is rolled out full of desperate imagery of a life painted extreme
- Ads that use ringtones or factors of technology I own that make me reach for my phone or look door wards thinking the doorbell has rang
- Ads that use stereotypes to reinforce a perception via accents for example
- The John Lewis Ad.
- Ads that prey on the vulnerable – Loans, Insurance etc
- Ads that tell big fibs
- Ads that promote controversial products and use sex and style and the desire to be exclusive as part of their appeal – Vaping ads being one very recent type that makes me snarl.
- Quit smoking ads and their disgusting visuals
Of course, many of us seem to like them, I’ve heard friends sing renditions of Go Compare adverts, I’ve had a friend mimic the Flake ad in humourous mockery and who hasn’t had a friend use the word “Simples”!? Crikey, I myself have been guilty of singing the We Buy Any Car ad in a Nelson Mandela accent. Any, any, any…
There’s no getting away from them really.
You can turn off the tv or switch over (like many of us do) or watch stuff on catch up and FF the ad breaks, make a cup of tea (that’s four cups in an episode of Jekyll and Hyde or Homeland) yet unless you’re profoundly hard of hearing then their ear worms will continue to get through to your brain. Sheer volume and weight of numbers over time means they’ll find a way through.
They certainly work else, we wouldn’t see them anymore.
Look at the analytics packages of a big brand that uses TV or Radio and you’ll see little spikes in web traffic. Look at the social media platforms for ads that the ad lovers like and you’ll see #tags and reposts and poses and skits and all sorts.
I’ll even confess to having a soft spot for the Malteser cup cake ad, but only because it’s genuinely funny and I fancy the lead.
And I guess that ultimately, that’s the thing isn’t it? Interrupting people sufficiently to gain their attention has to be packaged in all manner of ways to suit different styles and tastes. One man’s meat is another man’s poison after all.
I’m certainly no great ad creator but I do have an inkling for the processes that are at work. It isn’t so difficult to work it all out if you stop to think about the ads and what they are trying to do. And if they aren’t funny or interesting or visually and/or audibly appealing or sexy or ear wormy or shocking or endearing or otherwise noteworthy then they’ll have no impact.
A good ad will of course be memorable for all sorts of reasons – they’ll have impact and make a mark and leave us with an impression of the brand and the message that will linger. It’s a whole lot easier to achieve with a well thought out tv ad and that’s probably why they’re usually the preserve of big brands with the scope and budget to monetise them. They get to interrupt us when we are at our most pervious, when we are at home relaxing, watching our favourite things, off guard.
Online marketers do get to do the same of course.
They get to interrupt people virtually 24/7 via desktop computers, tablets, watches and phones via app alerts, emails, well crafted headlines and snippets that appear in the SERPS, content shared across social media, retargeted ad creatives that follow users around the web.
Those that do it correctly, get an engagement, get that all important piece of attention, that opportunity to convert the user and encourage a repeat transaction – but it all starts with an interruption of sorts, if it’s annoying, then you’re doing it wrong or they’re just not your audience.
Hat tip to Mr Trott for the thought train.