Describing Toast to a Martian

By Brian Jacobs The Cog Blog Archives

Everyone’s an expert in two things -- their own job and advertising.  Everyone has a point of view and at a time when we all have a social media presence it’s easy to confuse that with being an expert.  Expertise has unfortunately become devalued; the prevailing sentiment is that my view is as important as the next man’s even if I’m prepared to accept that I know little about the topic in question.  (Tina Brown has a lot to say about this over on recode.)

Take the measurement of audiences.  It’s easy to have a view on what we want; it’s far harder to persuade others and it’s even harder to come to a deliverable solution.

Video ads on Facebook, YouTube and others are consumed differently from ads on a TV set.  There’s a view that they should be measured differently.

There is also a case that all video, including TV on a TV set, should be measured through one system.  After all, a planner needs to be able to compare and contrast, a process that goes beyond counting eyeballs to take in such as engagement and impact.

Inter-media decisions are under the microscope and so the cry goes up for one all-encompassing measurement system.

It would be helpful if those doing the crying-out found the time to debate their opinions with other experts.  This is not an easy thing they’re demanding; delivering it will involve give-and-take and compromises.

At the recent asi Conference in Nice the closing panel discussion was entitled “Who really needs a total video currency?”  On the panel were one moderator, one advertiser, two broadcasters, YouTube and Facebook.  No agencies.  This was a shame as the agencies clearly have a point-of-view and aren’t afraid to share it.

GroupM’s excellent The State of Video concludes: “The goal is obvious: who watched what, where, for how long and on what device. This means an apples-to-apples comparison, a basic building block to assess relative value. The ideal would be a universal, any-screen, respondent-level method with automatic content recognition. The volume of connected devices already deployed seems sufficient to make this a reality, if only the industry would unite to get behind it, as it has to meet past challenges.”

Calling for something is easy; debating it with other industry parties (not all of whom might share the same view) with the aim of uniting, is harder. Which brings me back to experts.  Creating wonderful, inspiring advertising is a great skill, AI or no AI.  Recognizing such a skill at an early stage takes experience and expertise.

The once-famous JWT copy test, given to all aspiring copywriters, once asked those taking part to describe a piece of toast to a Martian in ten words or less.

One contestant wrote: NGTFV KLOWS HQWRT JKWYT ZEFYQ PTUVX.  (Apologies if I’ve misquoted.  It was a while ago.)  Asked to explain, he said that he had naturally written his answer in Martian.

Stick that in your algorithm and smoke it.

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