On almost every campaign, the collective sits down to plan out the launch of the work. And almost every time, someone says a variation of ‘Let’s make a teaser!’ To clarify, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a teaser is ‘advertising content or an experience intended to arouse interest or curiosity especially in something to follow’ – and therein lies the problem: ‘in something to follow’.
In the on-demand, I-want-it-now world we live in, it’s rare that anyone would wait for this ‘something to follow’. Instant, in-the-moment, attention-grabbing content is what we need to deliver to overstimulated audiences, not content that relies on them coming back for more.
There are exceptions to this argument: teaser content works great for movie trailers, upcoming TV series, or the Big Game - campaigns with media budgets big enough to ensure content reaches every corner of the internet or carries an inherent magnetic cultural cache and intrigue. This isn’t about the exceptions, rather the majority of marketers and creatives plugging away at content on a daily basis.
Here’s why we should rethink teasers:
People don’t experience your brand in sequential order
Think about how you go about your day: you wake up, maybe check your email, get the news in some form, perhaps you scroll a bit on Instagram. Then, you get up and deal with whatever immediate task you have to face: lack of laundry, paying a bill, getting a child ready for school. That’s a lot going on in just a blip of the day. Advertisers are not only competing with the latest meme or the endless stream of brand content, but also the real-life needs and problems people must put energy and attention towards. We’ve all felt this pressure – campaigns can’t just be good, they have to fight for the scarce commodity of attention.
As attention spans fragment, people’s control in how they consume the content we put out increases. ‘Hey first look at this teaser, then tomorrow come back to watch the real meat of our campaign, and don’t forget our recap – it’s going to be a hoot!’ Never gonna happen. That’s simply not how people behave and function.
I’ll throw us all a bone here – linear is the way most of us were trained. Linear marketing models, in which someone artfully cascades from awareness to consideration to purchase to loyalty, by definition don’t really have fluidity and nimble reactiveness built into them. These are fine for planning, but do not reflect how audiences move through life and get exposed to our content.
Data supports this. Speak to most social platform reps and they’ll pass along information on how non-linear storytelling constantly outperforms linear storytelling structures. Average view times on content hover around three or four seconds, even less so on ephemeral social content like Instagram Stories. Most people don’t give you the authority to woo them with a linear story. They’ve long since scrolled on.
What about retargeting? Sequential targeting and retargeting based on actions have been effective and widely used. However, other audience targeting such as behavior- or interest-based have been proven to be just as effective.
Teasers are a waste of production dollars
We, as marketers, have a duty to our clients to be wise in the allocation of their production dollars. Are we creating a 15-second teaser for a 30-second piece of content because teasers are ‘what we always do’?
We need to break the habits we’ve formed in thinking that teaser + content = success. Why are we shaving off a few grand from other pieces of content that serve a much greater purpose, for teasers that people may never see? Instead, we should make each and every asset work smarter to collectively tell parts of the story when pushing out our message.
I have no personal vendetta against teasers. It’s a simple question of what’s at stake, and what are we losing by making them?
To reach people in the ways that give us the highest probability of connecting with them and moving them to act, it’s important to understand the tension between how narrative is told in a cluttered space versus the ways in which people interact with content. If teasers don’t deliver on the promise of compelling people along a marketing funnel that delivers on business results, then we need to leave them behind in 2019.
Tyler Sweeney is digital strategy supervisor at RPA