Marketers Challenged With Limited Advertising Space

Aaron Shapiro, CEO of agency Huge, writing for AdWeek, opines that human-computer interaction will soon be screenless, citing the strength of the Apple Watch Series 3 as a shift that will fundamentally rewire the way we think about marketing, experience design, and the world around us over the next several years, says the report.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is a big deal, says Shapiro, because when coupled with Airpods, it will become the first truly credible post-phone internet device. This watch makes all the things we currently use our phones for, playing music, text messaging, making phone calls, or getting directions, possible.

The Series 3 is part of a broader trend that will play a central role in our lives in the years to come, says the report. It represents digital’s transition from the phone screen into the broader world around us. From desktops to laptops, laptops to phones and tablets, and now phones to watches, the screen size of our portals to the internet has shrunk consistently over time.

The combination of ubiquitous high speed connectivity and vanishing screens means “digital” is no longer limited to how people interact with brands and software on a phone or a desktop, says the report. Gartner estimates that by the end of the decade at least 30% of human-computer interaction will be screenless, activated by voice or location, and the Series3, combined with the rise of smart speakers, will be a big part of how this prediction comes to life in the real world, says the report.

Just as the industry has begun to figure out how to bring mobile, social, and search together to be effective in digital, the game is poised to change yet again, says the report. This transition poses two fundamental challenges to contemporary approaches to marketing:

  • Shrinking spaces for visual messaging: As watches and other wearables become primary internet devices, marketers will have much smaller canvases on which to convey their messages. Fewer pixels for advertising are a major constraint, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg: the range of options for screen based interactions are also reduced on such small screens.
  • Friction in audio: More interaction will shift to audio and voice prompts as screen sizes shrink, but audio also provides marketers with a similarly limited range of opportunities for advertising and sponsorships. More importantly, what happens when people, ordering by voice, learn to trust their smart assistant to figure out pesky details like which brand to choose? Where’s the opportunity for persuasion when the purchase funnel consists of a user saying “Alexa, buy more toothpaste!”?

As people become less dependent on phone interfaces and more dependent on the internet that circles around them, marketers must adjust. Brands will need to create a new generation of internet-enabled “anticipatory” services that do things on your behalf to replace traditional advertising. These services will depend on machine learning to make product recommendations, selection, and delivery so good that we will trust them to match us with the right products and services.

Making this shift will be the great challenge for brands over the coming decade, requiring verticalizing entire businesses to provide complete solutions to consumer problems. As challenging as this will be for most companies, the alternative, trying to maintain creativity and effectiveness in a world of shrinking screens, niche audiences and challenging channels, will be even harder.

To review the original report, please go here.


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