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Flashverts

created 2006-05-18 15:38:45

(Up to: Advertising World )

The idea that a) attention is a scarce resource in an over-loaded content world, and b) we subconsciously take in information about an image that we only get a glimpse at. The natural result of these two factors is the "flashvert"

a) In a world where many products and services are freely provided, attention is the foundation of economy, and 15 minutes of fame is a lifetime, why should a consumer spend time sifting through advertisements in order to find new offerings? What need for adverts when content is continually piped into the consumer's sphere of focus through social networks, alerts, etc?

If information is abundant, time is expensive. Attention is expensive, valued, and as such must be invested. As with any investment, the investor wants to know that for more "expenditure", they will get higher "return" - and in content terms, this means that if they're going to look at something, it had better offer them something good. Split-second decisions and instinct are key to an efficient life.

b) Subliminal advertising schemes have been around as long as animation - motion divided into a discrete series of single images, each one being shown long enough to register, but quickly enough to avoid being perceived as "stationary". The impact of these systems are questionable, and may well depend on just what kind of information we can grab in the timescale assumed.

There seems to be some evidence that isolated shapes can prove effective when it comes to recall (which might indicate that we focus on outlines first, details second). Perhaps bold colour combinations have the same effect. This isn't true "subliminality" - the image is shown long enough for it to register in the mind of the viewer. But perhaps most important to the idea of flashverts is that the image is gone before you can make the decision to stop watching it. It is merely a frantic passer-by in the slow lane of the mind.

This sets the scene for flashverts. If a 5 minute advert break was replaced by a 10 second "jam" of flashverts (actually, that's quite a long time - the equivalent of 40 images - maybe 3 seconds would be more manageable), then programme-watching would be a different experience. You may or may not get warned that a jam was on the way (assuming no legal interference), and by the time your hand had moved for the remote to avoid the blur of images, it'd be over. Back to the programme.

In fact, the interruption could be so small (relative to the "lengthy" ad breaks we have now) that they could pop up almost randomly, leaving you to enjoy the programme in relatively uninterrupted peace.

As with any advert, the more you're subjected to a particular image, the more it works its way into your subsconsciousness. Particularly rich advertisers, for instance, could pay extra to have their imagebrand flashed up several times during a single jam, a flickering constant amongst a sea of otherwise chaotic entropy. Perhaps there are even peaks for receptivity over the length of a jam, possibly depending on your mental make-up. If this were the case, would it be possible to target particularly quick-reactioned viewers in the first half, and those with slightly slower attention response times in the latter half?

Branding is a psychological attack on consumerist choice, an emotional affront to integrate our individual feelings with the demand for demand of the marketing world. Familiarity is a subsection of this, and the side of things most likely to be captured by flashverts - after all, how can you squash emotion into a quarter of a second (colours and the aestheticity of logos aside)?

----Other references Otherreferences

I can't remember, but there might have been something similar in Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson... will have to check.

----Other Name Suggestions OtherNameSuggestions

Bangverts, Tadverts (for the length of time you see them...), Subverts (as they're semi-subliminal...)


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