Why Do We Make Everything So Difficult?

At the OMMA event last week, and once again at the Las Vegas Internet Marketing Association event, I came to a conclusion that we, as an industry, do everything possible to make our work as difficult as we can. What I mean is that we are structured to fight the direction in which we are headed and we overcomplicate every issue we face.

First of all, we are more than 10 years into online advertising and yet we still call all other forms of media "traditional advertising." There are billions of people around the globe who don't differentiate between online and "traditional," and within those billions there are millions who probably feel that online is very traditional. Those folks who grew up on the Internet tend to believe that the Internet is a VERY traditional medium.

Secondly, we spend millions of hours diving into the intricacies of the technology behind all forms of advertising and marketing only to realize the consumer doesn't care or differentiate between them. We spend what amounts to years trying to understand whether an online ad or a TV ad drove a response, but in reality the consumer reacted because of them both, as well as because of all the other elements of a successful marketing campaign.



Lastly, we spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours developing new ways to speak to the consumer when what we really should be doing is just asking them what they would like to see and how they would like to see it. Our industry is based on technology, and advertising (if not every industry) is shifting towards a focus on technology, but we likely spend too much time developing what we THINK the consumer would like without necessarily asking them.

In the press, and in the boardroom, we need to shift our focus back to the consumer. One of the most exciting developments of the last year is the Google SMS product, but I don't think nearly enough of the mass audience knows it exists. Why? My theory is that the powers that be are spending too much time trying to "innovate" some new ideas when they should be trying to leverage the ideas they already have. If I were to ask consumers what they really want out of technology, I would think the answer would be "anything that makes my life easier." What could be easier than a tool that answers any random question, anywhere you happen to be, at any time, with no additional response necessary?

For advertising to integrate and for ideas to truly be cross media, we need to shift the attention back to the consumer. We need to knock down the walls between "online" and "traditional" media. We need to remove the distinction between "standard media" and "rich media." We need to blur the lines of distinction between "media" and "creative" altogether, because the consumer doesn't differentiate between any of these, so why should we?

We all know that the talent market is tight right now, but in the very near future it is going to become even tighter. Hiring will focus on people with cross-media experience and the specialists who can only speak the language of one form of media will become less valuable than the people who can talk across all formats. The people who can speak to the consumer, and are media or technology agnostic will own the day. These will be the valued employees and these will be the people who bring advertising and marketing to "the next level." These are going to be the ones who think from the perspective of the consumer, so open your experiences and broaden your horizons and maybe we can make the road ahead just a LITTLE bit easier than we typically do?

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