Push My Buttons

How much advertising are we exposed to each day? The general consensus says we are bombarded with around 3000 pieces of advertising material every 24 hours. But how many of them do we actually take in and what determines whether we pay attention or not? That is a question that every marketer wants answered.

The Art of the Brick

There is no way that we can take in every single piece of advertising that we see each day. So over time we have developed the ability to tune out certain stimulus. We will make an immediate snap judgement call on whether something is relevant for us and if we don’t feel we will get any value from it we will simply ignore it. In fact, your brain does this so quickly that most of the time you won’t even notice that you have seen a piece of advertising.

This is very worrying for advertisers because their aim is for people to see their campaign and they have often chosen a certain medium (television, radio, billboard etc.) due to its ability to reach a huge amount of people. But most of the time people will just walk by oblivious to the advertising. So how do you find out the number of people who have actually bothered to read your advertisement?

Interactive advertising!

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is doing exactly this. They have rolled out a campaign across this enormous city promoting their latest exhibition ‘The Art of the Brick’ which Lego interpretations of heroes and villains from the DC Comics world. It includes flags and banners, it uses posters, brochures have been distributed throughout the city and even bus shelters are decorated with the artwork. But how many people are actually taking it in?

You won’t be able to find out from those advertising options, but their installation in Pitt St Mall will give them an idea.

One of the poster boards in this iconic shopping strip has been given a super-makeover asking the people of Sydney to throw their support behind either Batman or Superman. And it is simple. All you have to do is walk up to the poster board and press a button with either the Batman or Superman logo to show your support.

Sure, it is a gimmick. But it is a great one that will yield lots of information for the Powerhouse Museum.

People can’t resist pushing a button. There is something innate in us all which drives us forwards to discovery when it comes to buttons. We have to find out what will happen. And it is especially true in this circumstance where we already know the outcome – another figure will be added onto the tally (nothing is going to jump out at you here!). This is a great technique for encouraging attention. We see the button, we want to press it, but we read the sign first to work out if we should engage. Immediately you have grabbed the attention of people who would have initially just walked past another ‘The Art of the Brick’ poster.

But the interesting opportunity here is to see how many people have bothered to read the advertising in a high traffic area. When the Powerhouse Museum were sold this spot, they would have been given an enormous number which constituted the number of people who walked through Pitt St Mall each day. Sure, they have the opportunity to see the poster but most will obliviously walk past. However, with this attention-grabbing technique and the very low risk of engaging (encouraging all readers to push a button), we are able to get an understanding of how many people have actually read the advertising. And as simple as this sounds, it is a revolutionary step in outdoor advertising where you never know if anyone actually bothered to stop and read your poster!