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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How Can We Attract The Right Audience In Scale?
By Jaffer Ali

"He is greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts
by the attraction of his own."
--Henry Ward Beecher, Social reformer, abolitionist

I would like you to take a moment to read the title of
this piece again: How can we attract the right audience
in scale?

Please note that I did not ask: How can we target the
right audience? The difference between attracting the
right audience and targeting the right audience is
profound. And in my opinion, our emphasis on targeting
the audience versus attracting the audience is misplaced
and ill-advised.

Why?

Isn't attraction the brand's real job? To entice, lure,
persuade and dare I say it -- charm the audience? You
would never know this by reading our online media pundits.
They are too busy spreading the targeting meme to consider
the notion that attracting is a more preferable discipline
than targeting.

Question: What is the first principle of attracting the
right audience?

Answer: Use content that engages them rather than repel
them with advertising.

The answer is both simple and utterly profound. To attract
audiences in scale we simply must give them what they
really want, engaging content! If you're a marketer who
believes that your audience wants more relevant ads, I
suggest you stop reading now, because I have nothing to
offer that will convince you otherwise. But if you
perceive a ring of truth to my words, read on...

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The only folks who want more ads are the vested interests
-- the media and marketing folks -- who produce and sell
them, period. They come armed with ever-smaller peashooters
to wage battle against an increasingly unassailable and
impenetrable force of logic: in an on-demand world, nobody
demands more ads.

It's simple... if you want to attract and deliver audiences
in scale, you need to use content that engages them, not
ads that repel them. Audiences vote by choosing videos
that they want to see, by choosing articles that they want
to read, by choosing music that they want to hear. Nobody
chooses ads -- not even the folks who produce them!

A year ago, click-through rates for banner ads averaged
.3%. Today that figure lies somewhere south of .1%...hardly
an encouraging trend. Meanwhile, and in the absence of
content-driven alternatives, search marketing continues to
dominate. One reason why search is so powerful is that the
audience initiates the engagement. But search speaks to
existing intent. It does not create new desires. Search is
not scalable and thus is not a good branding tool. Content
that taps shared sensibilities is a proven way to bridge
the gap between brand and prospect.

Content acts as a self-qualifier as well because people
are attracted to content that interests them. But attract-
ing the audience is just the first step in a three-step
process. It's what you do with the audience once you've
attracted them that really counts.

It's not just a matter of offering the right content to
attract the right audience in the first place, it's a
matter of bundling the right content with the right
audience and delivering both to the right place -- the
advertiser's website. That's where the magic unfolds;
that's where audience engagement occurs. For the content
to do its job, it needs to be consumed on the advertiser's
website, the only risk-free, competition-free branding
environment available anywhere.

Attract - Deliver - Engage

Once the audience is delivered to an advertiser's website,
the real work begins. This is where agencies can earn
their keep - by developing ways to keep the audience
engaged once they get them where they want them. In fact,
the same consumer behavior that asserts itself in the
first place now accrues to the exclusive benefit of the
host advertiser and should compel that advertiser to
capitalize on the opportunity by offering additional and
deeper levels of brand engagement.

The bottom line is clear: You can't engage prospects until
you attract them, and you can't attract them with ads.
Content, however, is the great equalizer, and the only way
to engender big scale reach for big brand advertisers is
to stop targeting consumers with high-tech ammo and start
attracting them instead with better bait.

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Jaffer Ali is the CEO of Vidsense (www.Vidsense.com)
and can be reached at j.ali@vidsense.com

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