Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Art Of Selling Eyeballs

I received an email last week from an advertising company.

The company is looking at the possibility of placing advertisements on this blog and said that "why waste the space on your website when you can use it to earn money?"

This is not a new business model where bloggers like us essentially sell 'eyeballs' to the advertisers. Well, the 'earn-as-you-publish' idea seems great but I am not sure if the traffic here is good enough. Well, perhaps the next time. Anyway, thanks for considering Vanilla.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against advertisements. In fact, I tend to get lots of inspirations from clever and witty adverts.

No matter how it is done, the purpose of an advertisement remains the same, ie. to grab attention. The true test, therefore, is whether the adverts leave behind the desired impressions which lead to consumer actions.

Generally, there are a few types of advertisements:

- Print Advertising: eg. newspapers and magazines.

- On line Advertising: eg. pay per click, search engines and banners.

- Media Advertising: eg. radio and television.
- Outdoor Advertising: eg. billboards and blimps.

- Mobile Advertising: eg. adverts on buses

In my earlier article (The $40 Million Retail Therapy), I was hoping to see a more vibrant Orchard Road after pouring in $40 million to spruce up the famous shopping belt. In this article, it is appropriate for me to further add on that, creative and inspiring billboards can also help to enhance the colors and uniqueness of Orchard Road.

In this aspect, I find local billboards rather uninteresting. They usually carry very safe and straight-to-the-point messages. There are lots of hard selling and direct information. As a consumer, I find these adverts informative but not inspiring.

Boring billboards?? Why is that so?

The first reason I can think of is that the local advertisers are not so creative. However, I am quickly reminded that we are in a rather globalized city state with lots of local and foreign talents. Surely. talents can be bought and creativity can permeates international borders.
I do not think that the local players are to be blamed or at least, not entirely.

I begin to wonder if the local adverts playground is too stifling? Are the censorship authorities too strict and hence clamping down much of the creativity? Perhaps that is so but I have no evidence to suggest that. In fact, a recent local advertisement has received criticism from overseas that it is too outlandish and outrageous. Take a look a the Burger King advertisement in the picture below, wouldn't you agree that it leaves little to imagination? Totally inappropriate!

Guess what? The advertisement is produced locally by a Singaporean agency. It can be seen in public places especially near Burger King outlets under the full view of the underage. For something which has so much, shall I say, sexual innuendo, I am puzzled as to how it has escaped the merciless local censorship?
The Burger King episode leaves me unsure if the censorship board is to be blamed for the seemingly lack of creativity in the local billboards. After all, they appear to be able to accept this offensive and objectionable promo adverts.

So, is it the consumer preference that shaped the local advertisement scene? Singapore is a multi-lingual and multi cultural country and I can understand why the advertisers choose to have their messages plain and direct. In this way, the majority of the potential customers would be able to relate to the message and there will be little chance of offending anyone.

I leave it to you to accord your judgment on who is to be blamed for the rather bland billboards seen around us:

a) the advertisers and the advertising agencies?

b) the no-nonsense censorship?
c) the consumer profile?

While you chew on the question, let's look at some of the street adverts which have inspired me....

Finally, since we are talking about advertisement, watch this TV commercial from Japan which is promoting Singapore as a tourist destination. I am not sure about you but if I were the Japanese, I would not have found Singapore a great lure. Putting its effectiveness aside, it is quite a LOL adz.

"I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all."
*Ogden Nash (American poet, 1902–1971)*

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