At a recent social gathering, I listened in on a conversation among a group of concerned parents. They were discussing the prevalent, often graphic, violence in the video games their children are playing. Despite the increasing use of gaming for good – “Lumosity” and the “Civilization” series come to mind – violence and mature themes still worry parents of young children in the U.S.
“It’s all marketing,” most of the parents quipped. Vivid advertising, effective point-of-sale ads, and slick packaging were all effortlessly executed by the video game marketers, resulting in huge sales and over-stimulated kids. Video game marketers should be flattered based on that conversation. But was it really the marketing efforts that drove purchases? Or were there deeper, more intrinsic factors that ultimately led to conversions?
The reality is, for video games and virtually every other product, some consumers are “natural converters.” For some consumers, it doesn’t matter what, how, or where you advertise – they will buy. They are marketing-agnostic. For our video game example, factors could include:
Peer pressure – “My friends all play first-person shooters. I want to fit in”
Role models – “My older brother plays a hunting game. I want to be like him”
Rebelling – “This game is rated 18+, but I can play what I want to play”
If marketers could isolate these “natural converters” and limit efforts aimed at them, then they could make a real difference in both sales and efficiency. Instead, they could focus on “causal converters” – those consumers who are affected by advertising and need that extra push to act. Imagine how far marketing budgets would go!
When I think of digital advertising, I think of constant bombardment, interference, and clutter. In 2006, CBS reported that we are exposed to 5,000 ads a day – that was nearly a decade ago. It’s harder than ever to break through the clutter and make a difference – even when targeting the right users and using the highest quality media. Wouldn’t it be great if as marketers we were able to focus our efforts on the “causal converters”?
Performance data today doesn’t adequately address the influence that ads have on users – only their exposure. “Did the user see the ad?” vs. “Did the ad influence the user to make a decision?”
Fortunately, more research is being done on “causality” in advertising – the science of what actually influences users. The traditional A/B testing, both costly and inflexible (the minute the media plan or other factors change it becomes irrelevant), is being superseded by more advanced technology that can simulate the same test with more flexibility and reliability. This technology will finally allow advertisers to optimize based on causality. At last, as marketers, we will be able to know the true effect of our ad campaigns.
Read more here.