Every year following the Super Bowl, consumers participate in an interesting tradition: They head online to view the commercials again. Apart from being made available on video sites like YouTube and Hulu, the spots can often be seen on brand advertiser sites. Many keep theirs up for weeks, and even months, in an effort to make the most of their ad investment and leverage the momentum generated by the Big Game.
This, of course, is an annual occurrence. The question is, why don't brands do this more often? If there's a marketing advantage to sustaining the life of your Super Bowl ads, couldn't the rest of the creative in your campaign toolbox be valuable, too? If consumers care to see ads from other media after the campaigns have come to a close, they can have a devil of a time tracking them down.
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But brands are slowly beginning to take a cue from the Super Bowl tradition and recognize that there are benefits to publicly cataloguing their digital advertising. They've begun to entertain the idea of archiving their ads, not only to generate more of the same conversions for which they were initially designed, but also for the purpose of ongoing branding.
Most likely this trend has been slow to develop because brands questioned whether consumers did, in fact, want to view their ads again. Million-dollar Super Bowl spots are one thing, but what of the video ads and expandable banners created solely to drive brand site traffic or increase awareness of a new product or service? Is there really a desire to see this type of creative again?
The answer lies in two words: relevance and value. Through their desire to make both of these a bigger part of the online advertising experience, consumers are, in fact, spurring the development of tools and services expressly designed to save ads. For example, ads are being frozen in time and redistributed (whether brands like it or not) through Twitpics posted by internet users who have spotted them; in ad galleries on rich media developer sites; and on Facebook pages like Ad Takeover, a roundup of notable takeover ads. The time is right for brands to take control of the process by actively facilitating "ad saving" online.
Digital ads for keeps
One solution may lie in new service AdKeeper. Founder Scott Kurnit -- who also founded About.com -- asserts that internet users should be given the opportunity to treat an online ad as they would a print ad -- to tear it out and save it for later. "After 15 years of just impressions and clicks, we think making creative for the keep is a huge opportunity," Kurnit says. "Between banner blindness and non-existent clicks, both the creative and media sides of the business are primed for something entirely new."
The AdKeeper service, which is currently in beta but will be launching within the next few weeks, has convinced major brands like Allstate, AT&T, CBS, Gap, McDonalds, and Sara Lee to start including a small "Keep" button on their banner and rich media ads to allow users to save them for later (the ability to do the same for video creative will follow). When an internet user scrolls over that button, he's given the opportunity to archive it to a private Keeper page, where he can sort, catalog, rate, review, and share all of his selected banners.
Kurnit has little doubt that consumers will relish this newfound control over the digital advertising experience: AdKeeper recently commissioned Nielsen to poll 1,600 consumers about the concept behind the company and found that 56 percent intend to use the service, and 71 percent of them would use it as much as twice per week. When asked about their motivation for employing the system respondents listed ease of use (87 percent), saving ads (87 percent), sharing ads (78 percent), and saving money (72 percent).
Brand sites as ad galleries
Another approach for brands would be to create a digital ad archive, or "ad gallery," on their sites. So far, digital ads have typically been left out of such content channels. For example, the Coca Cola Company has an entire A/V section online but doesn't use it to highlight its web ads. And neither does Absolut, which offers an online campaign image bank.
It would take very little effort to expand such galleries with digital ads and use social media to point consumers to particularly innovative and exciting campaigns. Brands are investing small fortunes and impressive brainpower in their online campaigns, but in terms of showcasing the results, their efforts fall flat.