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2014: A year for radical change in advertising formats?

1941 was a turning point in the history of marketing.  On July 1 of that year, the world’s first paid television commercial aired.  Costing the Bulova Watch Company $9 it was a pre-roll to a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Simple in nature, just a graphic and a voice-over, the ad extended Bulova’s reach from radio, print, and in-stadium presence to the emerging audience of television.


Despite its simplicity, it served as the launching point for the highly visual branding vehicle that has come to dominate the advertising landscape.  Fast forward nearly 75 years to today where marketers eager to tell their brand stories compete for Super Bowl placements costing $4 Million!


What made this breakthrough and subsequent evolution of the television ad format possible?  It was a confluence of factors.  Technology adoption among consumers provided another means of reaching them… while simultaneously fragmenting the existing radio, print and sponsorship media landscape.  FCC changes in legal frameworks in April 1941 provided security to companies willing to experiment in the new space.  But the final ingredient was marketers willing to change the way they developed their campaigns to simultaneously take advantage of the richness of the format while maintaining the practical underpinnings learned from the other media channels.  It was a time when “mad men” and “marketing scientists” were drawn upon in equal measures to create something new, great, and systemic.

We at MSW-ARS Research see this same convergence happening in 2014.  Digital platforms have finally reached the point where their reach and capabilities move beyond being just an inexpensive frequency vehicle fueled by banner ads and pre-rolls.  And the legal framework of what is and isn’t permissible has solidified. Finally marketers are experimenting with a number of new ad formats which have the potential to extend the art beyond the traditional TV spot.

Over the coming months we will be highlighting in this blog the most effective techniques we are seeing adopted, including:

  1. Illuminated User Generated Video – consumer created content is being enhanced with professional editing techniques to create the ultimate testimonial and product focus ads

  2. Long Form Video – the 30 second limit is being breached and the resulting ads are structurally very different from their shorter counterparts; especially in terms of emotional content

  3. Micro Ads – mastery of mobile requires a shift in thinking the other way, how to best engage with consumers in short, effective bursts

  4. Music – well recognized as an effective means for setting the tone, new research has tied it more directly to sales effectiveness, thus elevating its role

  5. Privacy – while consumers desire privacy they also desire relevance in their advertising and convenience in interacting with their brands

  6. MediaMesh – congruence in messaging and execution across media vehicles is as important as ever and even out-of-home advertising is leveraging the new technology and learning

  7. Creative Is Still King – even with the cost savings of digital reach, the largest return will come from the power of the creative itself

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