Gateway to Cultural Anthropology via Advertising

We have reached a phase in digital advertising wherein Youtube ads have become synonymous with the skip button. Viewers are not receptive to the concept of an ad running before their favourite content and majority of the ad viewing time is spent intently staring at the much awaited skip button to appear! This phenomena appeared another time in the past as well with TV advertising, however TV viewing is traditionally a family or group activity and hence the TV ads are relatively better received for 2 reasons: a) The TV ad can be appreciated or criticised as a group, b) The option to switch to other channels in the interim break.

With the advent of Digital media, Youtube has instilled, as much as they have taken away, a sense of autonomy and self-initiative from their viewers with pre-roll advertisements.

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But could it be conceivable that the viewers have it all wrong? Yes, most of us find the pre-roll ads to be nagging and wish that they would just go away. However in such a situation how does one suggest Google make money? From us? Maybe a subscription? Something that Youtube has rolled out already, but we the free people, are we willing to pay a subscription to watch content from our favourite channels?

This brings me to the next part: Advertisements have traditionally been a very vital and accurate representation of a region’s inherent culture. If you find yourself in a completely new country and wish to know more about its culture, an ideal starting point would be the television commercials of that place.  Advertising to be successful has a mandate of appealing to the masses and being as local in its communication as it can possibly be. So then what better place  can a person go to learn about a foreign land’s inherent culture? Researching on the internet is definitely a way but will it really give you a rich essence of the dialect, accepted gestures and colloquial terminology? I’d guess not.

Now we have a content delivery system that (maybe forcefully so) gives us an insight into cultural nuances every time we go to stream our favourite content from a different part of the world! As a lover of digital media i actually like watching the pre-roll ads, yes you read that right! Its industry learning for me really but most importantly when i travel and take those 2 minutes to watch a local pre-roll ad and it gives me such an immense insight into the culture and nature of the local people. These insights help me in understanding the general sentiment and attitude of the people towards common issues and works as a conversation starter in furthering my cultural learning.

The beauty of Youtube lies in its accessibility. Whilst travelling we may not always have access to a TV or a Newspaper but we will most often than not have access to our smartphones and laptops, opening the gateway to an immersive understanding of cultural anthropology. Well this holds true only if we have the right attitude towards the medium of course.

Having said all of the above i think there are some ground rules which every advertiser should follow in order to keep the viewer’s ad watching experience a memorable one:

  1. Keep the ad frequency to a maximum of 2! Yes Mr. Media planner you know what I’m talking about!
  2. The duration of the advertisement should not be more than 1 minute unless you have an extremely compelling story to tell.
  3. Inculcate the local culture of the region as much as possible and I cannot stress this enough. Doing so has two benefits, firstly the more local and customised the content the more your target audience would identify with it and secondly the travellers and expats can actually use the advertisements as a reservoir to learn about local and cultural nuances.
  4. Target your ad! One size fits all never has and never will work, especially in todays highly individualised world. Everybody wants to feel like a somebody and personalisation of content is the key to opening that mine.

Coca cola is a master at culture marketing, take a look at this and decide what you take out of it: 

To me, when i saw the Youtube ad in Singapore i realised the underlying tension between different communities here and sensed that even though Singapore might be cracking down on its expatriate population they appreciate the effort taken by parts of this foreign population in building their country. I have used this on multiple occasions as a conversation starter to further gauge the locals sentiment on this topic.

So next time you intently wait to skip a Youtube ad, think twice, you might just be foregoing an opportunity of some great cultural learning.

Image courtesy: http://bit.ly/1BdexOu

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