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Think BR: A continuum of exposure

We need to remind ourselves just how consumers see advertising, writes Chris Stark, product director, Infectious Media.

Chris Stark, product director, Infectious Media

Chris Stark, product director, Infectious Media

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Sallie Gardner at a Gallop is the name of an early silent film produced in the US in the late nineteenth century.

It features 24 still photos of a horse named Sallie Gardner at a fast gallop. Intended to prove the theory that there are moments while riding when all four of a horses hooves are not touching the ground, the presentation of the photo sequence in 1880 became regarded as history's first motion picture exhibition.

Without attempting to draw parallels between horses and consumers, Sallie Gardner serves as a useful analogy to the marketers' view of the consumer: a few snapshots, linked together, to suggest motion.

Online advertising, specifically media buying, continues to grow in sophistication.

Predictive algorithms are helping media buyers sift through inventory sources, new technology is offering to put a score on the 'quality' of every page, and there is an ever growing font of data available to define and target tailored audiences.

These tools empower media buyers to increase their odds of reaching the right audience... up to the point of even guaranteeing them.

Even as we improve our knowledge around each advertising impression bought, we are also stepping back to consider the continuing, connected exposure of brand message to each online consumer.

Sequential messaging is a practice that ensures a user is only exposed to creatives in a certain sequence.

Each creative on its own is a single event, but the potential for narrative lies in the sequence. Unfortunately the approach can suffer from limited scale.

As the audience who was exposed to the first creative in a sequence is then retargeted to expose them to the second creative, it is unlikely that more than a few creatives can be strung together during a typical 30-day campaign, as the resultant audience is simply too small. 

The Sallie Gardner film also speaks to unintended discoveries. Currently we are monitoring cumulative duration of ad exposure and exposure frequency. Interestingly, optimum combinations of frequency and duration have emerged, and we're finding the combinations vary by advertiser.

This suggests that effective optimisation is also based around the impact of each ad and not just about the order of the ads in the path to conversion. The whole as a sum of its parts.

So in our attempts to push the envelope of the individual ad impression for direct response (DR), we've created some alignment between branding and DR methods.

This 'continuum of exposure' for a brand provides a context in which to evaluate the DR impact of branding spend.

It also offers the opportunity to reconsider sequential messaging without suffering from the attrition problem.

This is highly bespoke strategy, as each brand has its own optimum settings, and it is all powered by impression-level buying (through real-time bidding) and the ability to deliver creatives at the right time.

The strategy is workable and the result unlocks a lot of opportunities for our clients.

As marketers we hope that we share a bit of a journey with consumers and thus connect at some level with them.

A sensible reminder about our business is that no one goes online to see advertising. It would be hubris to suggest advertising is taking the consumer on a journey.

We are essentially an outsider inserting ourselves into the consumer-media experience, hoping that either our brand or our relevance to the consumer means that interruption is acceptable.

However, assuming the 'fit' of brand and message is within reasonable boundaries, the marketer gets to tag along on whatever journey the user is taking, with the marketers' messaging woven into the customer experience.

Chris Stark, product director, Infectious Media

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