Today, engulfed by countless screens and digital platforms, a Western individual is bombarded by a dizzying 3,000 commercial messages per day, growing exponentially into a cacophony of meaningless and unintelligible clatter.
Most advertisers chose to weather this storm by talking louder – and meet the consumer's eyes wherever they turn, on their smartphone, Facebook page, billboards and that unidentified box in the living room that old people call television – in an attempt to transcend that endless noise.
The result? One more burger commercial and you'd want to push the CEO of the fast-food chain through the meat grinder.
A new method, espousing a radically new thinking, is required. Stories are very popular – especially with sequels and, preferably, stories that relate to people's lives, at that particular time and place.
One such story could start first thing in the morning with an ad in the paper, followed by the sequel appearing on the smartphone while commuting to work. And then, when opening the browser at work, the user would get another piece of the jigsaw in the shape of a short video clip. This is how effective messaging is created.
Data-based targeting has long since been the mainstay of the advertising industry. As someone once said, there's no reason to show vegans a Double Whopper advert.
Technology is always on the move, and it's time to stop basking in the wonders of being able to pinpoint the potential customer in the right time and the right place and start honing the message. The R&D department has done its share of shifting from analyzing keywords and areas of interest to remarketing; now it's up to the creative department to get a move on.
I don't mean repeating the same beaten message. Rather, it is time for a holistic approach that would include mutually complementary messages – and the result would be a sturdier, more profound and more effective campaign.
One of the most vaunted methods recently is cross-platform advertising. Advertisers are competing for our undivided attention every time our eyes meet a screen, and that happens a lot.
Once your customer has been identified, you'd better solicit him on his mobile phone, while browsing his favorite news site, on Snapchat or – who would have thought – on television. And the message should be as distilled and tailored as humanly possible.
One interesting example is HBO's campaign for the third season of “Veep”, one of the channel's finest comedies. It latched onto the plot and ran in tandem with the fictional campaign launched by the show's protagonist, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), for her new book.
More than 100 "advance copies" (in effect, hundreds of bound blank pages, but the cover is the real thing) were sent to opinion leaders and commentators, autographed by none other than the fictional vice president herself.
At the same time, a social media campaign featuring the hashtag #ISupportSelina made the rounds, complete with recorded messages by Meyer's indefatigable spokesperson Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh), as well as thousands of text messages.
The bounty came almost immediately.
Facebook and Twitter engagement grew by 300% as opposed to the previous season, and the season finale caused an unparalleled commotion on social media. To HBO's delight, tens of thousands of shares realized the wet dream of every publicist.
That was in 2014. Today, the array of platforms is even wider. It requires advertisers to develop a language that maximizes promotional activity on each one: advertising on TV and on Snapchat is apples and oranges, chalk and cheese. Each platform fills a different function, and therefore requires a different content production process.
So much time and money has been spent on finding the potential customer in the right place and the right time, why not invest a bit more and send him or her the right message?
Now is the time to act, and advertisers that fail to do so will find themselves sharing a digital graveyard with Myspace users.