Choice matters. Give us a choice and more often than not we believe we are getting the better option. It makes us happier and more receptive.


Traditionally, the only choice a recipient has upon receiving an advert is to engage or disengage. Up until now, we either looked and/or listened to an ad or we didn’t. While some formats have a better track record of getting our attention than others, for instance cinema adverts are usually harder to ignore than digital banner adverts, none of them ask our permission first or give us the agency of choice.


If you get permission from the audience by providing them a choice of whether or not they have to engage with an advert, you are more able to engage them on terms favourable to both parties.


We are in the age of the customer. The days of a few, inescapable, advertising channels are over. We can, and do, choose to watch whatever we like, whenever we like. Advertisers can continue to push their brands, but providing the audience with the agency of choice, will be more in keeping with their almost limitless ability to choose their other content streams.


Choice is good for everyone involved. It defragments media by putting the power where it is anyway, in the hands of the consumer. Consumers get the information and entertainment they seek in a readily accessible form. Advertisers build quality audiences while refining the art of attracting legitimate attention. Marshall Self, Head of Media Solutions at Google Canada.


Two examples of how choice is empowering both the audience and the brand.


First, we are all very familiar with Youtube adverts, which mostly allow us to skip to the video we wanted to see if we are not interested. As an advertiser, you can choose to force the user to watch your 15 second clip – but almost all adverts select the skip option and try to make their ad unskippable. After all, if you haven’t got the audience’s attention after 5 seconds, the extra ten seconds is just going to irritate them and leave an unfavourable impression of your brand in their mind. The advertiser only pays for the videos that get watched all the way through and the user only has to watch the entire advert if they choose to – proving themselves an engaged viewer (and worth the spend) in the process.


The second example is provided by video streaming site, DramaFever and advertising platform true[X]. They believed that by providing their audience with a choice in how they received their adverts, they could both provide a better option for the viewer and for the advertiser. Before the video starts, the audience has to choose whether to have their content interrupted by short, scheduled adverts (as per standard TV advertising), or to engage with one longer, interactive ad in the middle of the content in exchange for a more seamless viewing experience – with 40% fewer interruptions. 63% of the viewers chose the interactive ad, and 86% of those who did watched the ad for at least 30 seconds and completed at least one interaction.


A better experience for the audience and an audience who have given their permission to be spoken to by a brand. That sounds pretty good to us.