Advertising: The High-Res State of Mind

­­I wrote this on: June 1st 2010

Another day passes as I finish my second week as a salaried employee after graduation. Working for a technology company has taken huge priority in my life. Considering all of my life I have been custom to new and innovative ways of thinking, There’s something I’ve come to understand working as a designer with a programmers mindset:  Attention to detail is the most critical learned technique in an industry of extreme resolution. The human eye has become much more apt to defining flaws and being attracted to error. Furthermore, the human mind is beginning to relate benefits to accessibility. In other words, if we see it, we think we can have it.

In many cases, especially today, we’re seeing an arrangement of advertising variations put in extremely new places. Take a trip through the Lincoln tunnel; you’ll probably notice Panasonic’s bright vibrant copy with an image that contains the very same color assortments. But there’s something more to these advertisements than their use of color. What I noticed most was media vehicle that is carrying it. With a background being the gray and blue skyline of Manhattan, a bright exciting advertisement becomes that much more effective. I even went as far to notice advertisements on the sides of buildings to the tops of taxi cabs. There is an entirely new realm of ad-placement than we’ve ever could have imagined years ago. With the placement of advertisements in new and exciting places comes the wonderment of how to target the prized audience and assure conversion. Here is where detail and logic becomes king.

Let’s take a look at how a taxi in New York City defines how deeply advertising pertains to detail. Today, the average time spent at a traffic light in New York City is approximately XXX seconds. With anywhere from two to ten taxis standing at any one street light, there’s only between XX and XX seconds to have an advertisement actually be noticed. In the mind of a designer, you should be thinking “how do I attract attention to a potential audience without distracting from the message?” As an advertiser you’re thinking “how can I portray my message to my target audience in the fewest number of words?” As a marketing person you’re thinking “how can I assure that the advertisements messaging will convert to a lead to the demographic I’m really seeking?” These questions are becoming more and more challenging to answer as competition increases and consumer’s demand becomes more specific.

Earlier, as I walked the streets of Manhattan, I noticed that advertisements on moving vehicles are extremely entertaining. I say this not because they are colorful or humorous, but the attention to detail is very well thought out. For example, as a city bus passed me by (at a reasonable speed) I noticed that the advertisement on the walls of the bus  was magically reading itself to me. The messaging was spread across the length of the vehicle in such a way that you could literally stare straight without moving your eyes and have the message read to you as the bus moves forward! What better way to have a message read than help your audience read it! To reinforce the strength of the advertisement, the same messaging was displayed in a call to action on the back of the bus as it finally passes. Here we see how the advertisement utllized exposure, message clarity, and reinforced the message with a call to action.

Something else to consider in these times of innovation is accessibility to technology. We’re constantly seeing an increase in the demand and usage of smart media devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and most portable electronics. It’s becoming more important than ever before to have advertising correlate directly with marketing. We’ve come to understand that messages placed outside of magazines and newspapers (for example) are generally designed to gain exposure. This isn’t nearly as true as it was as little as five years ago. Considering we are becoming a generation entirely reliant on our electronics, it’s vital that as new media innovators we develop campaigns to target this audience.

Just for fun, as I walked down West 40th street to port authority, I counted nearly thirty-five people using a smart media device within three blocks. As the number of smart media users grows larger, our potential advertisement conversion rate grows exponentially. Each of these users has the accessibility (in-hand) to react to an advertising campaign. This could be as simple as visiting a webpage or dialing a phone number.

Marketing to an audience of potential immediate customers was incredibly hard ten years ago. Today the realm of marketing can translated and multiplied to an audience larger than the one it’s physically displayed to. I know, that sounded awkward, but think about it. Here’s an example of how powerful the attention to detail in advertising, design, and marketing can be:

A business man leaving his job walks past an advertisement being displayed on an electronic billboard which is marketing a new promotion for iPhone users to get a 10% discount on Subway sandwiches. Hungry, as most men are after working, the man visits the mobile site advertised to him while continuing his walk. The coupon is displayed on his screen to be displayed at the time of purchase with a specific code letting the subway restaurant know where he saw the advertisement. Furthermore, the mobile site asks if he’d like to share this coupon with his friends on facebook and twitter who have an iPhone. This user immediately became a customer, helped define a demographic, and also sent this advertisement into a viral array of new potential customers who all use iPhones. This same marketing campaign can then be applied to other applications to get a perfect understanding of well an advertisement can convert and how to spend advertising dollars more efficiently.

Looking into detail at this level is essential in today’s market. Correlating design, advertising, marketing, and even social media is just the very beginning. Our customers and audiences become our means for exposure, but igniting the spark is key. All-in-all, although cliché, you should never stop thinking outside the box. Remember that you yourself are a potential customer and that attention to detail can always be used in logical, new, and innovative way. Finally, remember that the end goal should always help us understand the most important part of our business, the customer.

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