Two seconds aren't enough to solve online ad problems

Marc Pritchard has rightly been lauded for coming clean and admitting that the media agency/client relationship needs a complete overhaul and a more open approach. I think we can all say hallelujah to that.

However, when it comes to calls for greater clarity around measurement, I feel Procter & Gamble's chief brand officer has got a little confused between effectiveness and price. According to Pritchard, we should adopt the Media Rating Council's code, which means a video ad is effective if the consumer sees 50% of the pixels for two seconds.

Really? Is that effective? Try it yourself and see if you think it's effective. But just in case you can't be bothered – the above should have taken you roughly 30 seconds to read. Here's the two-second version: Marc Pritchard has rightly...

My second point is around language. As we saw with Brexit, if you own the language you dictate the direction of the conversation. The fleeting two-second glimpse of an ad is called a view. In common parlance, we all automatically associate the term "a view" with people admiring or watching something such as a landscape or TV or cinema. By using this term, marketing directors and media folk subconsciously think that someone has viewed their ad or content – when, in reality, a more accurate term would be "glimpse".

The target audience has glimpsed your ad, not viewed it. Again, here's my two-second version: My second point is aroun... 

Now, that doesn't mean that two-second ads are ineffective. They can be very effective. Take outdoor advertising and particularly roadside posters. I don't know what the dwell time on these hoardings is but I think it is safe to assume it is likely to be fleeting (unless you are driving in London).

It's fleeting because most people are looking at the road and travelling at speed. The creative on roadside posters reflects this. It's big, bold and easy to understand. So why are we producing ads that more closely reflect a more sedate form of consumption such as TV or cinema? Surely, given the consumer has only a "glimpse", it would be better to have a static image and a bold message, not an involved 30-second-plus video?

The two-second version once again: Now, that doesn't mea...

Context and care also seem to have been forgotten in the video-on-demand world. Before The Times' front-page exposé last month, every programmatic desk and purveyor of online targeted ads, including the big boys, would have said they delivered a "brand-safe" environment for customers. After all, our clients have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on crafting the ad.

Well, that myth has been well and truly slaughtered. What was the response to The Times' investigation? In the main, denial or silence. As Churchill once said: "Men occasionally stumble across the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened."

I very much hope our industry is better than that – and, instead of continuing the practices that The Times exposed, we all look the truth in the face and address it.

If I were to do a two-second summary of all of the above, it would be: please stop, think, act.

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