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Drive To Disappointment

"To see the the rest of the story, go to YouTube.com/disappointment."

I understand the desire to have a transmedia focus. I also understand the desire to turn a client's advertising effort into a viral phenomenon. But there's something that fundamentally bothers me with the "rest-of-the-story" approach that most advertisers take with YouTube.

In my world, a call-to-action needs to have purpose. Not necessarily a sale, mind you. But every call-to-action should amp up the engagement at the very least. There are always exceptions, but I'd say these are rare.

Now take the average rest-of-the-story approach. We're driven to YouTube by the TV commercial to get an extended video play that promises to complete the story. Then usually we're treated with the option to click yet again — or worse, type in the url for some other site — to get more information about the product. Sometimes the experience is entertaining. Sometimes it's a waste of time. That's irrelevant. The point is...well...what was the point?

I'm the average consumer. I follow your call-to-action because I like your spot and I'm perhaps even vaguely interested in your product. I end up on YouTube and rack up a click for you that you can trot in front of the client or your bosses as an "engagement metric." And then I'm rewarded with a chance to click once again? Talk about diminishing returns!

Every subsequent click is a subset percentage of the audience before it. So even with an extraordinary 10% click through, you've taken a large audience of hand-raisers (say 100,000 folks) and taken them down to a not-so-large audience (10,000 folks) by the time you finish. How is this smart marketing?

Understand, I'm all for moving people from couch-potato to engaged über-fan. I like the idea of incorporating YouTube into the call-to-action. But use the medium to its advantage, folks. The online video can be interactive and could be used to set up a call back. The online video can make a specific, clickable offer. The online video can even apply contextual ads for local vendors of your product. Something!

When YouTube — or any other microsite or social network — is specifically called out as part of the campaign, make it part of the campaign, not just an exercise in meaningless metrics. The opportunity is there. Make it work for you.

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