Context is everything in digital age: Varan

THE ADVERTISING fraternity must learn to adapt to the new digital environment, according to Murdoch University chair of marketing and media program Duane Varan.

“When we talk about digital television, usually we mean terrestrial digital TV, but there are other ways the technology will appear on people’s screens such as through the Internet, pay TV and complementary services such as video on the phone and even digital paper, which will be in vogue in about five years,” Dr Varan said.

“For advertisers, this will radically change the rules of the game.

“It will change the economic infrastructure that underlies traditional TV advertising but it will also allow advertisers to target audiences much more accurately.

“Advertisers have experience in using targeted media through, for example, magazine advertising which is very segmented.

“So, in a lot of ways, the transition will be smooth but digital TV enables interactivity and that will be very challenging.

Dr Varan said digital TV would enable viewers to respond and engage in a purchase decision more directly.

“There is a gap between attitudinal predisposition and actual behaviour,” he said.

“When you see an ad on conventional TV, you may think you want to buy the product but to translate that desire into a purchase requires a lot of effort.

“With digital TV, you can click a button and download further information or make a purchase decision on the spot.”

Dr Varan said schools of thought varied on whether this interactivity was positive.

“Some argue the level of involvement enabled by digital TV allows consumers to be more engaged with the product,” he said.

“There’s an opposing argument that says interactivity diminishes advertising impact because it’s distracting to the experience.”

Dr Varan said digital TV would enable the transmission of advertisements in multiple languages and the targetting of audience segments based on factors such as ethnicity.

He said multiple video streams could be broadcast with different versions of an ad available to consumers.

The consumer would be able to choose an advertising style based on factors such as levels of aggressiveness or family-orientation and receive content accordingly.

Dr Varan said digital TV sets would be able to passively monitor TV activity.

“The digital TV set will be an intelligent one that will be able to construct a profile of the home in much the same way cookies do on the Internet,” he said.

“It would know what you watch and create a psychographic profile.

“This is valuable information in terms of marketing and could determine the most effective version of an ad for that home.

“There are a lot of ethical questions that arise and clearly there is a need for the kind of social policy research we’re doing here at Murdoch.”

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