I usually like to use a quotation from a famous person that has something to do with the article. I even found a good one from Robert Browning, but thought better of trying to be more erudite than I really am.
My last article was on reach [http://bit.ly/dobtRj] and after re-reading, thought it was incomplete. Why? Simply put, the article didn’t go far enough explaining just how absurd the current definition is. I spent more time redefining reach than explaining why the current definition is overwhelmingly idiotic.
So let me put a final nail in the definitional coffin of this poor, misconstrued media metric…bury it and rope off the grave site; and threaten anyone who objects to me speaking ill of the dead with an all-expenses-paid hunting trip with Dick Cheney.
To refresh the minds of those who read my last column, the current popular definition of reach is “exposure to a particular ad”. Let’s dive down a little deeper and ask: How does this definition apply to online advertising?
My interpretation of reach in an online context is the physical appearance of an ad on a web page. And whereas the ad in question clearly reaches the page, it doesn’t necessarily reach a person, at least not in any meaningfully measurable way. What?
Current reach metrics confuse the mere appearance of an ad with an actual consumer impression. An ad that shows up on a page but no one actually sees may satisfy the digerati under the old definition of exposure as reach, but philosophically (and I think, reasonably) it’s like asking: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it does it make a sound?
Over the past two days, I asked 23 people who work online a simple question: “Can you tell me the last banner you remember seeing?” Not a single person could recall a single banner. Here are a few answers:
** I’m drawing a complete blank.
** I just ignore them.
** I can’t think of any.
** I never look at banners.
One clever fellow offered, “That’s easy…the Star Spangled Banner”
I encourage you to stop and ask yourself that same question right now. For that matter, did you even notice the ads on this page? And this is the point… Defining reach in any way that does not resolve with the audience is an utter waste of everyone’s time and money. Unfortunately, the old axiom you get what you pay for never rang less true than it does today online.
Is it even remotely controversial to suggest that effective reach must be more than having an ad impression just show up on a web page? For me the answer is obvious. And whereas the status-quo interpretation of reach may satisfy the intermediaries whose livelihoods depend upon never questioning foolish assumptions -- and hoping no one else does either -- it can only fail to satisfy those who expect and deserve more for their time and money.
Not surprisingly, brand advertisers are finding it more and more difficult to achieve scalable reach. With DVRs zipping past commercials, newspaper and magazine circulations in utter free fall, and online ads now the victims of a collective blind eye, brands are looking for a safe, scalable solution.
I contend that to achieve scalable reach, we must first let go of our failed and outdated way of defining it. I welcome the opportunity to share my own take on the subject with interested readers. Anyone who’d like to take me up on the offer can reach me at 708-478-4500, ext 105.