The cool ad diaspora

Here’s a brilliant television commercial.

Except it’s not on television. It’s a T-Mobile ad showing exclusively on the Internet – 13 million views so far. This is not a small scale viral campaign; it’s a big-budget commercial that will not air on TV. Well actually, it WILL air on TV but as editorial. It’ll be shown on current affairs programmes and panel shows. Won’t cost the advertiser a red cent.

And the television industry should be shaking in their boots. Since the bears were bad, the coolest ads were on TV. The effect of that was to drag up the perceived cool of the medium; the best ads were on TV. But now, for the first time since the 1950s, the coolest ads air on the internet.

Why is this happening? Partly for these reasons: it’s free to advertise, longer ads, less censorship, and the capacity for interactivity, but more because the viewers are responding better to that media. They have invested effort in finding it. They have something at stake.

I recently heard Duane Varan at XMediaLab Perth talking about some of his research.

In an interactive environment, people presented with a difficult choice (choose between watching a beer ad, a cola ad or a niteclub ad) are more invested in their decision and subsequently are more positively disposed towards the ad. It’s the same on the Internet; I’ve found it because I’m clever or I have wonderful contacts. That makes me more receptive to the message. The ads work better on the Internet than they do on TV.

The TV industry is losing ad revenue at the top end of the market. That’s a dangerous trend, unlikely to be reversed. The sooner they get their converged asses together, the better.

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