Put viewers in the Ad!

In direct mails, we often use personalization whenever possible. Starting a letter with “Dear Satyam” instead of “Dear Sir” responds better every time (if the recipient’s name is Satyam, that is!). A sweepstakes that uses a personalized address message like, “Your prizes are waiting to arrive at 123, BTM, Bangalore,” will garner more entries than one that uses a generic message. Today’s technology, though, permits new kinds of personalization that pack an even bigger punch than mere names and addresses.

Picture & Video Personalization

Elfyourself is the best relevant example I can mention here. Checkout the video

With the funny animation, our brains are fooled by the video trickery and we find it hilarious to see ourselves and others engaged in wild dance moves. The viral success of the site is testament to how effective the personalized videos are. It’s also been a boon to OfficeMax, generating hundreds of millions of brand impressions and creating a strong, positive linkage between the brand and the lighthearted site. There’s research that shows, that brand preferences can be swayed by techniques like showing the viewer using the product.

Behavior Impact

More research confirms the potency of this effect. A Stanford dissertation by Sun Joo Ahn tested users in a virtual environment, i.e., a simulation which immersed the subject in an artificial reality. The experiment showed that subjects who saw themselves cutting down a tree in the virtual world exhibited a tendency to conserve paper afterwards. This simple simulation changed subsequent behavior.

What’s Next in the world of Advertising

Are we ready to make the leap from the lab to marketing reality? Will future Jockey ads substitute their customer’s face for that of the reclining model? Do you think a male viewer would pay more attention to the ad if it was his/her face instead of the indifferent, bored-looking model’s? I think that ad viewer would indeed be attracted to the it, even when he is fully aware that the photo is a bad fake.

The tipping point that makes greater use of image-based personalization practical, at least in some applications, is that so many people now have images easily obtained from social media profiles. While profile photos are far from suiting all commercials, they are very common and, in some market segments, quite pervasive.

Although I haven’t spotted examples of image or video personalization tied to brand use, I’m sure they are out there. If you know of some, please post a comment!

Satyam is a Consultant with Infosys Ltd. and editor / founder of marketinomics.com. When he is not talking about Digital Marketing or dreaming of CRM strategies, he can be found on a treadmill. He enjoys travelling, reading and listening to music! Catch up with him on twitter at @xatyam

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