Choose Your Own Ad Adventure

January 31, 2012 | by BatesMeron

A few months back, The New York Times wrote about users picking their own ads on Hulu:

“This month, Hulu introduced a format that gives users the option of clicking an “ad swap” button after a commercial begins and choosing to replace it with one of two or three options. Don’t want to sit through an oil company’s commercial? Then go with one from a cellphone carrier or a razor maker.”

However, the feedback from viewers has been less than stellar. The buttons add an extra step to the process of watching videos on Hulu, and sometimes, having a choice leads to viewers waiting even longer to watch their video. The Times explains, “By the time users decide to go with an alternative, they may have already seen a good portion of the first ad. Beginning a second one means a longer commercial break.”

With some tweaks, it still seems like this could be a win-win for advertisers and users. Advertisers can direct their ads to people who are actually interested in what they’re offering, and users get at least some degree of choice about the ads they’re being subjected to.

But why not take this choice concept to the next level? Instead of letting users pick which ad they see, why not let them decide what happens in the ad itself—like the choose-your-own adventure books of yore—to capture their attention and increase recall?

That’s exactly what Rogers Canada did with this ad, entitled “The Briefcase.” Some of the execution is a little cheesy, but overall, it’s a great idea. This format gets viewers to actively involve themselves with your brand and messaging—instead of biding the time until your ad ends by surfing the Net in another browser tab. Bonus: You can use YouTube’s free Annotations Editor to create this same effect.

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