A while ago I was in a long queue (or ‘line’) for a single toilet (or ‘restroom’) in a hotel. Just as I finally got to the front of the queue, a guy jumped in front of me saying “I’m so sorry, I can’t wait, I’m on salts”. I was annoyed. But not nearly as annoyed as after he came out, when I went in to find the results of his ‘emergency’ on the floor, walls and ceiling of the cubicle. I ran out in horror shouting after him, “Oy mate, that’s disgusting, what sort of salts are you on?”
The guys shouted back…
“I’m really sorry, I’m on Somersaults!”
Sorry, a cheap gag, but it does lead me in…
Nowadays, we’re more likely to have to wait just a little longer for a cubicle than is strictly necessary whilst the occupants update their social status, complete level 15 of their game or catch up on the latest ‘defector’ in the EU referendum…
Yes, our addiction to smartphones extends not only from our office, restaurant, pub, shop, bus, train, plane, living room, kitchen, bedroom … but also to the smallest room in the house. In fact, in a recent survey of direct users of our B2C iadbox commercial messaging service, several users proudly stated that their favourite place to check their messages was whilst “otherwise engaged”.
Whilst not everyone was willing to admit the same behaviour, the common factor was that all our users checked their commercial messages when they were not busy doing other things, so their minds were clear enough to actually pay attention to what they read. And as the commercial messages were targeted by interests and delivered in an interactive “immersive” format, we consistently achieved engagement rates of between 20% and 60%. In fact, with some brand dialogue campaigns, such as with KLM (see case study) we achieved an engagement rate for a 2nd interaction of over 90%!
Now, contrast that approach with the concepts of contextual advertising being promoted by many as the holy grail of mobile advertising. Brian Jacobs’ excellent “just because we can” Cog Blog post from a few weeks back reminded me of quite how many issues we face in getting our message for the “right person, right place, right time, right context”.
I, for one, have been talking about doing that since I used to sell SMS systems in the 90s (it may well be longer), but there seem to have been only the occasional anecdotal case studies, with no mainstream successes.
Yet we’re still going on about it and it isn’t going away, as Brian referenced in his post with this quote from a Google executive: “The advertising game is no longer about reach and frequency. Now more than ever, intent is more important than identity and demographics, and immediacy is more important than brand loyalty.”
Brian goes on to point out in his inimitable way that there may be a few flaws in this argument and, ultimately, just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.
I would take that further. When it comes to “search”, google can do an awful lot with context. But when it comes to branding activities and reaching audiences with messages that they are not actively seeking (ie. the typical role of “discovery” display advertising), there is actually no context when a person is using their phone that you can interrupt their activity that is “right”.
We’re all busy doing things and interrupting us with an unsolicited ad is, at best, tolerated in return for the access to a free service or game. With all our direct B2C users telling us that, we decided that instead of providing regular location based push messages (in addition to our ‘discovery’ messages), we would provide the tools for users to ‘check-in’ and search for things around them instead, so that when they do look, they are paying attention.
But, for the “discovery” type messages, ie. advertising, the right context for our users was their free time. So our challenge was to find ways to make them actually want to view their messages.
Which brings me back to that “special time” in the smallest room. It turns out that if you do send targeted communications in an immersive format, ie. one that provides ad content that the user can interact with as much or as little as they wish, they actually choose to do so and they pay attention. Of course, to achieve that, you need to provide those “messages” in a format that they control in terms of what they get and when they look at it, such as rich-media messages in an inbox.
And that, my friends, is what we call the “toilet test”: are your marketing messages interesting and targeted enough and delivered in a “snackable” format to make someone actually want to interact with them when they choose? If so, then you can capture their genuine attention in those special, “me” moments.
And the results of that attention will speak for themselves.
As a marketeer, you’ll be so pleased, you may even want to turn a few somersaults…