Managing Director, Digital US
Adam Shlachter has spent more than a decade developing digital marketing programs and solutions for brands. Since joining MEC in 2006, he has worked with clients that include Macy’s, KFC and Ikea, and has managed agency relationships with partners such as AOL, CBS Interactive, Facebook, Google, Hearst Digital, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Prior to joining MEC, Shlachter held several interactive advertising and marketing roles on the Westin Hotels & Resorts brand team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He began his career in advertising at agencies Lowe & Partners and JWT, working with Marriott Hotels, Heineken, Amstel Light, Novel and T. Rowe Price. In an interview with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin, he discussed the challenge of consumer media multitasking and what marketers must do to overcome it.
eMarketer: Is it harder for marketers to feel they’re getting their money’s worth from advertising when so many consumers are multitasking with media?
Adam Shlachter: I do think it’s a challenge, because not only is no one giving their undivided attention to any one medium, no medium is given much time. This challenges the notion of daypart targeting and time- and place-based media, because consumers aren’t constrained to any one channel or time and place anymore. The issue is, since [consumers] are multitasking and their attention is fragmented across screens or devices and channels simultaneously, let alone just bouncing back and forth, there’s no good measure of what the impact of [advertising] is right now. Companies like Nielsen are trying to study that with the Three Screen Report.
“A lot of the things that people are consuming from a content perspective push them to other channels simultaneously.”
But this behavior isn’t new. It’s just more widely and vastly enabled, and it’s becoming more pervasive as there’s more technology in the home. It becomes cheaper and faster as data is more abundant and accessible. A lot of the things that people are consuming from a content perspective push them to other channels simultaneously. It’s everything from news providers integrating feeds from their Twitter accounts or consumers' tweets into their commentary and then pinging people back to those, to live events like the Super Bowl and the Grammys. These events create companion experiences and content from the official broadcasts, as well as from ancillary outlets and content providers.
eMarketer: Do you see any movement toward a metric that takes consumer distraction and attention into account when it comes to pricing ads or judging their effectiveness?
Shlachter: I’ve seen comScore and Nielsen’s efforts around verification of exposure based on delivery, as well as the cumulative reach that you might get and how you look at it all together. There are a lot of efforts in this space, and we’re excited that they’re getting so much traction. But they’re all being tested right now. Some are more focused on the online piece first, and others on a fusion between television and online. But I don’t think I’ve seen anything that looks at the complete picture, and that might be tough because the complete picture spans beyond paid media into owned and earned channels, which are harder to ascribe similar value and ROI to.
Maybe they’re not reach-based opportunities but conversation-based opportunities, and that’s not as easy to put a dollar value on or to track in the same vein that you do exposures to paid advertising. These are social media engagements and programs that marketers are buying on Facebook, for example.
eMarketer: Do you think that consumers will eventually gravitate toward media content that requires minimal attention? Have you seen any indications of this already?
“We used to live in a content world that was curated for us, but that’s all changed because we have become the editors, curators, sharers and distributors of a lot of content.”
Shlachter: I think it’s already the case today. We used to live in a content world that was curated for us, but that’s all changed because we have become the editors, curators, sharers and distributors of a lot of content. There’s content everywhere, and so much so that you might say it’s hard to discern what’s premium, what’s niche, what’s user-generated and what’s professional because it’s created in so many different ways, shapes and forms. It exists in so many different places and is generated by so many different creators that what’s premium and what’s impactful is going to be what you, as a consumer, choose to spend the most time with.
The notion of consumers and brands curating content and experiences isn’t going to stop. We have the ability to do this now in a really personalized and tailored manner, whether we’re programming it for consumers as brands or whether it’s consumers programming their own world. These experiences are more accessible, portable and liquid because they just go with you, and you can choose to interact with them when, where and how you want.
The notion of people paying less attention is already here. People choose to spend their time and pay attention to the things they want, whenever they want to. Sometimes they choose to pay attention because of the network effect of how a lot of content gets discovered and distributed.
All of these different content and media experiences are inherently more social because they exist in different forms and aren’t isolated to any one channel like they used to be. This gets back to the point of needing to measure media differently and revolutionizing the way that we understand the impact of all these different experiences that are happening in different places, across devices and platforms, as well as how messaging fits in.
eMarketer: Marketers talk about the need to create “immersive” experiences that will get consumers more deeply involved with their brands—like watching “American Idol” and extending that experience online through an iPad and Shazam. Are immersive experiences a realistic goal for marketers given the time-starved condition of most consumers?
Shlachter: The environment and/or the mindset that marketers are trying to fit into will dictate how immersive the experience needs to be—and define what immersive even is, because if it’s about building a companion experience to a live program or to a scripted series, you have to do it appropriately and in a relevant way for people to want to interact with it or consume it. There has to be some value exchange. That might mean that they don’t want something really complex that you have to go down a rabbit hole to experience.
There are companion programming apps that allow consumers, through their mobile devices and iPads, to check in to shows that they might be watching on television and access companion content, stats, scores or a community of other people consuming that content at the same time. These are nascent but growing. They were sort of geared toward superfans at first and now they’re aiming more broadly at anyone who’s checking out a TV show or series.
People are spending some of their time with this companion content and these experiences when they’re watching TV. Marketers have to figure out the right way to extend their message and expand it into these places in a relevant way, since people are spending time with these apps. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to create a wildly immersive world, because that might not be appropriate. But they have to understand what the audience is hungry for, what they’re looking for and enhance their viewing and content consumption.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other articles, “When Less Is More for Online Retailers and Their Customers” and “Apple Devices Drive Mobile Web Use in Eastern Europe.”