Six to Start

Advertising Everyware

Chris Heathcote wrote a great post recently titled "The New Luxuries" where he talks in brief about the explosion of digital advertising and advertising space: there are screens everywhere now, and there'll only be more. And where there aren't screens, there'll be contextual advertising on the screens you carry with you. How many screens do people carry with them now?

We're looking at this change from a different perspective - yes, there's screens everywhere - every moment of your life from when you wake up to your commute home - because one of the central tenets behind what we do is that of media agnostic entertainment and games.

Historically, we've defined entertainment by the medium upon which it's delivered. Literature is (more often than not) books, television is, well, on a television (more specifically nowadays on a screen, and not delivered over the air or through a cable), movies are projected on a stupendously large screen in front of you. Music is slightly more agnostic - but it's the catch-all term that encompasses MP3s and live performances, while no one gets confused about how one might view theatre.

What we're playing with, though, is ignoring all of those boundaries about the type of entertainment or game that's delivered on any particular platform and instead, tying them all together.

We don't create television programmes, but the stuff we do create can - and does - include video content than can (or might) be delivered on what looks like a television. Or on an iPod. Or streaming over the web. We don't create radio dramas, but we do produce audio. We don't create console games, but we might hide something inside Home, or an AAA big studio title as support content. The experience that we're designing floats on top of all of the individual pieces of media that it's delivered on.

So it's with some trepidation that we see articles like "ITV inserts advertising into video content" which fundamentally seems to be missing the point. If you start inserting adverts into blank walls during my favourite TV programme (and, honestly, there aren't that many favourite TV programmes left for me), then I'm only going to get even angrier and more resentful than I am now. It's about content, it's about entertainment, it's about gameplay and the story: what could you insert apart from adverts that would enhance an experience?

More commonly than not, whenever we're involved in an agency pitch, we get asked about how we might use a specific piece of media. Sometimes it's QR codes (and we have a whole spiel about those), but other times it's about how we might use traditional ATL advertising, and it's here where something that Chris said is interesting:

[T]he final kick in the teeth is the complexity of the ads themselves. Clarity is a luxury. Ads that present a brand message tend to be simple. Ads that convey a monetary offer or benefit, are not only hard to decipher, full of words, small print, competing offers, but take extra cognition to even dismiss. “Will this be good for me?” “Will this make my life better?”. They also tend to be more cynically designed, with added lizard brain semantics. “These great offers won’t last” “Call us today.” Time, effort and worry are the price you pay for having to make hard financial decisions constantly.

We're not aiming to create complexity when we produce rabbit-holes, those pieces of an experience that stick jut out into real life and entice you in. We are aiming to create intrigue, though: enough for you to want to find out more, but the hard part is making sure that we're not adding to the noise, and not adding to that cognitive overhead that will make you anxious. The bottom line is: we want you to have fun.