ad:tech Chicago: Weighing Hearts and Brands on Ancient Scales


ad:tech Chicago's "Love for Sale -- How Great Creative Seduces Its Target" session was broken into two discernably useful parts: statistics on online dating, and seduction as a metaphor for marketing.

We'll begin at the beginning.

The Online Dating Crowd

Accompanied by Liz Ross of Digitas US, Fusion Idea Lab's Matt Brennock regaled us with both statistics and close-to-home anecdotes -- the kind that's fueled many a romantic comedy.

I heard one guy say the pair had great chemistry, and he commended them for "[opening] the kimono" the way they did. Given the topic matter, and Brennock's zeal for reminding us (first once, then twice, then...) that men really do just wanna get laid, the geisha metaphor was oddly appropriate.

Some stats:

  • The average online dater is 42 years old.

  • remains tops, with 3.4 million uniques/month, but people increasingly drift away from these big-box dating sites and into more niche fare: j-date, veggiedate, Christian singles. (AdAge blogger Kelly Eidson seized this opportunity to send me a link to STD Match, a dating site targeted to people living with sexually transmitted diseases. There are also -- as if you didn't know -- ethnicity-specific sites.)

    If the world wasn't our oyster before, the marvelous advances of the internet, coupled with mankind's enterprising creative spirit, have ensured it certainly is now. There's a match worth blogging.

  • Average time spent on an online dating site is 15 minutes; during that period users view around 5-7 profiles.

  • There's a 50/50 gender divide, but mentalities are different: men approach online dating as a numbers game; women agonize and analyze. Across the board, everybody's favourite adjective -- "authenticity" -- is a crucial factor.

Seduction as Metaphor for Marketing

Here is where the session takes an interesting turn: anecdotes about online dating become broadly-sketched metaphors about marketing in general. Apt when you think about it; aren't we all looking for the lonely marm who'll put out?

"The minute you start believing that you own your brand, you have lost," Ross proclaims, and with that, she and Brennock explore the 5 Key Ways to Seduce Your Target:

    1. The pool feels bigger than it is. Desperate people don't want to meet, they want to connect. They put themselves out there, but in reality they're looking for themselves too.

    2. Guess what: it's not about you. This goes back to the point above. Brennock explains: "The reality is, the person looking for love is really looking to hear about themselves. They wanna know if they're interesting, attractive, worthy. The consumer is just ilke that: they want to be romanced."

    3. Looks (sight, sound and motion) matter to both genders. More from sage Brennock: "The reality is, we are biologically programmed to care about looks." Human beings do 3 things: eat, sleep and have sex. And oh, shop. (Guffaws all around.),

    4. The product has to be good -- and described accurately. Transparency matters. This merits some emphasis. Brennock observed that people on dating sites are most inclined to lie about truths that are easiest to discover when you finally meet them. Men lie most often about their height, for example.

    He adds that marketers, even the ones that back claims up with research, are also, well, liars. "I consider myself a researcher in this category, and the research is nothing but lies," he preened.

    5. People and products aren't the sum of their parts (or stats). No matter how you fudge your profile (or ad), chemistry can't be contrived.

"Even though we love lust ... the reality is, we know that goes away. And as marketers we have to be vigilant about protecting that moment," Brennock somberly concluded.

And in his view, the $5000 question is "how far can we push the truth and how do we serve something up so it's appealing to the consumers, but honest."

At this point Ross takes over to barrage us with ad campaigns that she feels are infused with personality, because that's the key to massaging consumer sentiment without outright lying. Examples include Internetiquette, The Corona Beach, the stomach growl translator and this saucy Canadian Club Calendar effort.

There wasn't much wrap-up to this, although I do recall Ross and Brennock tag-teaming at the last minute to tackle us with a plug. Check out Second City My Ass, an effort to remind the fickle public that there's more to Chicago than its wind.

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