It’s Time To End The End Card

man on couch watching TV

Ah, the ubiquitous end card. That five-second relic slapped without question in nearly every commercial. The mere existence is a nod to marketing’s past life, grounded in the dusty idea that without it, people will be scratching their heads about where to go next. Yet, today’s customer journey is more fragmented and less predictable than the traditional funnel suggests. 

So, why aren’t we listening?

The people who grew accustomed to end cards are slowly fading away, replaced by a new generation that communicate and shop differently. No one is pausing their DVR to get a web address to see how they can get 1.9% financing on their Hyundai, squint at the unreadable fine print, or wonder if they are a ”well-qualified customer.” 

Yet, we behave as if that were the case. 

Marketing’s Worst Best Practice.

End cards have served their purpose, but like the carrier pigeon, telegraph, and Blackberry, their time has passed. And it is up to forward-thinking brands to openly question the relevance of these antiquated end cards that better serve a dusty best practice than an engaged customer.

In a world where people are turning to platforms like TikTok to avoid traditional ads, end cards have become a glaring symbol of outdated marketing methods. Their overproduced nature loudly announce “Skip me, I’m an ad!” and are rapidly losing relevance to an audience that is increasingly resistant to conventional marketing.

Want to trigger an “Ok Boomer eyeroll?” Easy, slap on an end card and post it on your socials. 

Beyond the younger generation judging you, end cards are becoming as outdated as the 3-martini lunch. The underlying fear they convey – that the audience will forget – only serves to make the brand appear risk-averse and uninspired. And no one wants to cozy up with a boring brand.

Not even boring people.

The Google Age and the Connected World

In a time where virtually any information is just a tap or a swipe away, the need for end cards has become obsolete. Today’s consumers don’t rely on end cards to tell them where to go; they simply type a brand’s name into Google. The small print end card is a superfluous element from a less connected past, now out of place in our hyper-connected world. It is wasted space and time, clinging to an old way of thinking that no longer serves a contemporary purpose.

Transparency, Trust, and The Attention Economy

Beyond the superfluous nature of the end card, there is a darker side. One that accepts that we have something to hide, so we bury it in the fine print. In an age where consumer trust is paramount, and attention spans are a precious commodity, the fine print fails to respect the time and intelligence of modern audiences. It’s critical to be upfront with customers, fostering trust and authenticity by presenting clear and concise information without hiding behind tiny text. 

What’s Next For Marketers?

For most brands, not much. Weaning them off an end card is easier said than done. And most of the agency’s best practice police will continue to use yesterday’s lessons to inform today’s decisions. Even when all signs point in a different direction.

For brave brands, ditching the end card presents an opportunity to flex their creative muscles to pave the way for more innovative approaches to conveying information – approaches that are engaging, respectful, and in tune with the modern audience.

So think about it. Maybe start small on social, and move your way up to TV. And remember, if your ad can’t convey the essence of your message in 90% of its runtime, a desperate end card is not your savior. It’s your crutch.

Or, maybe, in the eyes of your audience, your cane. 

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