Last Column Of The Year: Looking Back
2011 has been an explosive year by all rights. We’ve seen social media achieve new heights in reach: one in every nine people is on Facebook! And it’s integral to our lives; each Facebook user spends over 15 hours per month on the site. That’s more time than most parents will spend helping their kids do homework in any given month. YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Wikipedia, all phenomenal both in terms of sheer adoption, scale and how they’ve changed the fabric of the consumer landscape.
We’ve seen the advertising industry shift as well, with more scrutinizing of online advertising. It’s not just about an impression, nor is it about the click. We’ve seen a shift in thinking to the “targeted” and “known,” not the “view” or what we thought you saw online and the inaccuracies of the cookie.
I’ll project what I think we’ll see in 2012 after the holidays, but I wanted to highlight a few things in 2011.
I think we have a tendency to lose sight of what advertising is designed to do: to communicate. The noise created in this industry is deafening. We are quietly raising the barrier to consumer attention. There used to be the shock value of zany acts, which we could broadcast and use for advertising purposes. Today, there is a designated channel, TrueTV, called “Most Shocking,” which all day features “most shocking” videos and vignettes -- EVERYTHING from women thieves to car accidents. It’s easier to produce distribute all manner of content, thus cluttering the channels and consumer share of attention. For advertisers, this raises the barrier to creative, and challenges the efficacy of the brand message.
So you have advertisers reevaluating how they spend their advertising dollars. You have a consumer industry that is blinded by new forms of media, 10X more brand stimuli in a day, and a flair for networking that has accelerated like a virus. You have devices that are inflaming the use of sharing and connectivity and you now have a new culture that only knows how to type with their thumbs and gesture-based navigation. Add to this, the spend shift in marketing to online, from broadcast to narrowcast, from CRM to Social CRM. 2011 has been a ride in itself.
Where does that leave us as professionals who have something to sell, something to say, and someone to influence? Will brands create their own consumer platforms to engage directly with consumers through markets, networks and advertising intermediaries? Will there be power brands like Google and Apple, Facebook driving this private domain method of engaging consumers? What will our industry look like when brands begin to take control of their brand-connected consumer engagements? When will channels that focus on the known consumer and tangible behaviors be drivers of budget?
I don’t think 2012 is the year to answer this question, but we are seeing many trends in marketers’ practices, the demands they are putting on their marketing providers and shifting budgets. I used to use the term “Think globally, act locally and panic internally” as the metaphor for the flood of challenges we faced as marketers. Today, I think I would best describe my tone as, “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”
Talking about marketing at family outings was at best white noise; today it touches everyone. No longer is the Super Bowl the only time of the year you talk about advertising (good or bad).