Consumers receive between 3,500 to 5,000 messages every day. Advertising has now become white noise that frankly speaking, people find irritating – myself included. I’m aware of the irony here, given my chosen and much enjoyed profession! This is particularly true if the advertisement interrupts the thing you are trying to do. Just think about that video featured on your Facebook feed that you clicked on, only to find it interrupted mid-way through with an advertisement. I for one, immediately turn off the video, irritated that my viewing experience has been interrupted, albeit for only 60 seconds.
Before you imagine my attention deficiency, know that this is not atypical behavior. I, like many consumers, am heavily influenced by the behavioral economics trend, ‘Here and Now.’ And my engagement switches off immediately when something interferes with the thing I want access to ‘Here and Now.’ Indeed, many consumers are now paying to turn off advertisements! To validate this statement further, research tells us that today there are 630 million devices using ‘ad blockers’ – and that’s growing by 30 percent a quarter. Traditional advertising with multiple layers of content – hosted digitally or offline – as we know it today, can no longer sustain itself with former tried and tested methods. So how do marketers make advertising relevant again?
DEVELOP A CONTENT STRATEGY BEFORE YOU DEVELOP CONTENT
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But so many marketers overlook this, developing content that they think consumers want to know about. Instead, content must clearly convey the value that you are promising to consumers, focusing on simply stating what you are doing for the people you serve. If you can’t do this, then your content, no matter how much research there is behind it, will just be more white noise. Similarly, campaign/category communications must dive deeper into telling the story around the problem that you’re trying to solve. Consider how a consumer engages with Google. They type in a question – a problem – and are looking for a solution. In the same way, your content strategy must be built around customer-first content by deliberately answering the question that consumers have. To add to this – it is not about the volume of content – that would blow your marketing budget! Rather it is about thoughtfully created and curated content.
CO-CREATE STORIES WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS, EMPOWERING THEM TO TELL YOUR STORY
With the rise of freely available thought leadership content, campaigns can no longer focus on storytelling alone. Instead, marketers must focus on story making with consumers.
Look at the video gaming world as an example, where players create their own worlds. This trend is now bubbling over into the advertising world. Consumers want to collaborate and co-create the story with brands to develop something more meaningful to them.
Also, consider how there’s nothing worse than getting some fantastically titled thought leadership content, only to find that it is branded content trying to sell you a product or service. Branded content is increasingly seeing people dis-engage. Therefore, consider engaging consumers to determine what content should be created – this may involve re-inventing or optimizing the feedback route and case studies.
CONTENT MUST MOVE FROM INTERRUPTIVE MESSAGING TO CUSTOMER-FIRST IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES
While content must be customer-first, the parameters within which we allow consumers to engage with content must be reconsidered. Consider the film industry as an example. Innovative film-makers are re-shaping content engagement, moving from just considering pixels to voxels. Previously the film industry worked with flat images. This then moved to 3D images. Today, large technology firms are working with studios in LA to create films where viewers can traverse a story on their own terms leveraging XR technology. Stories told in films will become highly personal, with viewers able to zoom in on certain characters at will, as an example. That means that in the future, the experience that one viewer will have, will be quite different to another viewer of the same film – akin to experiential theater experiences like Sleep No More in New York. Bringing these learnings back to the world of advertising, consider how to allow consumers to shape the content of your brand’s campaign. Provide content for ‘skimmers, swimmers and divers,’ using multiple media, to allow consumption to be on the terms of its target audience.
So, advertising is definitely far from dead. But there are more hurdles than ever to reach your target audience. Marketers need to embrace innovation by not having unquestioned assumptions about the parameters of advertising.
To see these principles in action, please head to workplacehub.com.