Judgment Day is almost up on us for the Lynx Awards, and the question on everyone’s minds is what makes for an award-winning digital creative piece? I’m tempted to say ‘engagement’ should be the key criteria – whether the particular communication traps the mouse and engages the eyeball and moves on to some sort of desired action and ongoing interaction after that.

But, simply, crudely put, I ask: “Does it interrupt in a creative way?” At the end of the day, it’s about pulling me away from what I am doing and then holding my attention long enough to make me want to know more – even though I had no intention of heading in that direction.

As digital creatives, we preach the gospel of “non-interruptive, fluid engagement” – one that resonates with the target audience enough to draw them in. But, I feel compelled to say, against my grain, that it does start with ‘interruption’. Once the path that I am headed down is suddenly ‘forked’ and I am given a choice – an interesting one – that I click on to the ‘alternative’ – then, I am responding, interacting, participating, moving closer to the real intent of that fork.

This choice, this ‘hey-wait-a-sec-and-look-at-this’ moment, isn’t just limited to, say, online banners or messages. They can be entire web pages, sites, portals, games, social media, networks, experiences. But each one relies completely on participation. If they’re googling a query and find you, do they click through and participate in your exchange of information? No matter how boring the content may be, is it compelling enough in its presentation, in its format, in its creative appeal to ask for and facilitate interaction?

And, then there’s interruption-of-interaction, meaning, once you’ve hooked your target and trapped the mouse, what happens if that process gets interrupted? Do they come back, because, they were pretty much into what you were saying in the first place? We live in a continuum of participation, engagement and interruption. What makes a web page ‘sticky’ is when, no matter what the ‘further interruption’ (phone call, sms, instant message, email checks, other work, kids) the target comes back to your message, your exchange with him or her.

Creatively speaking, it does not have to be about the execution only. If the overall idea (just as in ATL) is big enough, the consumer will resonate and stay, and interact, and click through, and give you more. We have to realize that if we talk about participation and engagement, we are, by default, talking about a two way street. Give and take. The old one-to-many, preaching from a platform, thumping a pulpit or a soap box is long gone. So, if the target is compelled – through the idea, through the creative approach and the offer of the reward – that to me is overall a winning proposition. Up for the award.

Is the idea worth googling? Are they going to click through to your dialog? Is it quick and if not, is it worth waiting for? Will they look across the entire site? Will they give you their email address? Tell a friend? Will they talk about you on their Facebook wall? On Twitter? Blog you? Will they participate in your journey? Take part? Be your ambassador in the long term?

If and when all these happen, you’ve got a winning idea.

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