Published Dawn, Aurora, Jul 2008
by Umair Mohsin
What is the future of advertising? Simply there isn’t any. At least not as we know it. Trever Edwards, the vice president of Nike in October, 2007, sounded the death knell for the traditional ways of how we advertise, when he said “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive, we’re in the business of connecting with consumers”.
Worldwide, the trends are the same. In the US, the country’s third-largest advertiser (General Motors) is getting ready to shift fully half of its $3 billion budget into digital and one-to-one marketing within the next 3 years. P&G Canada, has vowed to boost online spending from 3% of its media budget to as much as 20% for the company’s fiscal year that starts July 1. How soon before P&G Pakistan will follow suit? Research shows that 65% of all marketing spend in Asia in 2007 had no effect on the consumer. Yet still 70% of all Asian marketers are not tracking the effectiveness of their spending, many simply because they don’t know how to.
Yet as more and more consumers integrate digital technology into their daily lives, they are also increasingly exercising control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising in a multichannel world. Already the integration of technology (multi-screen media consumption) is changing how we look at consumers. No longer are marketers describing consumption of content as being off-line and online or traditional and new but where and how the media is being consumed. The demarcation lines between old and new media have officially been eliminated. TV is increasingly being described as “lean back” interaction, as users are typically relaxing in the living room environment with a remote control in one hand. This is in contrast to the similarly slick marketing devised descriptor of the more active, personal computer-oriented “lean forward” experience of a keyboard, mouse and monitor especially used with gaming & consoles. The third form of media consumption is ‘On-The-Go’ with services such as Mobile TV provided by Telenor, digital outdoor & POS (such as 3M Vikuiti in Pakistan) or gaming gadgets like Sony PSP leading the way. It doesn’t end here however. Technology does not change any form of content or its inherent linearity but it is shifting how we control the viewing of that content. DVRs are allowing users to time shift content. iTV such as PTCL Smart already allows on-demand media and interaction directly. Thus even in Pakistan, we have the hyper-fragmentation of the audience and more and more advertising will now have to become integrated across multiple platforms of the ‘Digital Lifestyle’ if it is to work. This is the underpinning of the rise of Marketing 2.0.
Simply put if the web 2.0 is the network as a platform, spanning across all connected devices like PCs, mobiles, gaming consoles, etc, than Marketing 2.0 is about those platforms that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of these platforms. This is very different from the old school forms of marketing, especially since the old schools were not of an interactive nature.
The oldest marketing model was Transactional (communicate what it is and what it does) in its nature. The value was created by what the company was offering and consumers were passive buyers waiting to be targeted with offers. The role of the marketer was ‘to define & create value for firms’, whilst interaction with customers then meant researches or surveys of consumer’s habits.
In the second chapter of marketing, we were bombarded with the ‘Relationship marketing’ model whereby ‘maximizing the lifetime value of the consumer’ was the end goal of marketing. Firms focused to attract, develop and retain the most profitable consumer segments over the maximum number of years.
The new marketing 2.0 model is very different. With the rise of technology and gadgets, consumers have now became Pro-sumers, active participants in the marketing’s value creation. The 2.0 version is about creating ‘Tribes’ or Identification (Who you are) through experiences. This has been brought about through a confluence of a number of trends like participation (from consumer to creator), personalization & collaboration (from pushing content to pulling content), democratization of market access (from a few big advertisers to a lot of little ones) and richer online apps (from desktop apps to the internet cloud & rich media). The role of marketing 2.0 is ‘to engage customers in defining and co-creating value’ through Active Dialogue. Value is ‘maximizing the co-created experiences’.
What it means for marketers is that consumers are no longer at the end of the marketing process. They now refuse to just consume what the marketers throw at them and want to be an inherently part of the marketing process – being part of the conversation. Infact many consumers are becoming vendors themselves of products and even of media in some cases – the role of the traditional agency. Even in Pakistan, opinion formers are popping up in the most unexpected of places with blogs especially becoming very powerful in shaping consumer responses (google ‘PTCL Broadband’ or ‘Link Dot Net Problems’ for an idea). Borders between advertising and PR is blurring.
New marketing buzzwords like Engagement & Excitement are already following on the heels of this revolution, becoming the new mantra, whilst traditional metrics such as Reach & Frequency can no longer cater to measuring the quality of engagement and excitement that is now needed for marketing to these attention deficient consumers. With the beginning of the end of mass media, Advertisers already are starting to demand more individual-specific and involvement based measurements, putting increasing pressure on the traditional mass-market model. Already in Pakistan, the Marcom Mix is shifting from Exposure To Engagement through new formats such as branded entertainment featuring reality based shows (Princess of Pantene, Lux Style Awards, etc), branded adver-games (GilletteChampions.com), branded portals (Tapal’s chillkaro.com), branded talk shows (Nido Taare Humaray), branded game shows, On-ground activations and more. In light of this trend, I predict that the majority of advertising revenue will shift from impression-based formats to impact-based formats within the next five years.
With hyper-fragmentation, the PPC (Price Per Contact) Cost is also rising over time, so more and more marketers are demanding optimized media and sales based results. Expect the 2.0 terms like ROI, Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Conversion, Sales Funnel Consideration and Stickiness to enter our marketers jargon soon.
One of the keys to successful marketing in the 2.0 age is hooking into the Zeitgeist e.g. in Pakistan, over the last 12 months, Facebook has been the fastest growing search term on Google, a testament to the numbers of users from Pakistan joining the ‘Social Networking’ revolution, whilst the 2nd & 3rd Top most searched terms this year have been Urdu (showing how much people would value content in their language online) & Yahoo! respectively. The 6th most searched term is ‘games’ and 8th is wall-papers. Goal.com is the 97th most popular site in Pakistan, lending credence to the revival of soccer in Pakistan. I don’t know how many marketers have noticed these insights. With the way things are going however, in the near future it’s not difficult to imagine, the marketer managing the impact of his campaign through a “dashboard” that delivers real-time metrics and analysis across all of their advertising platforms. Gone are the days of “hoping” advertising works. Marketing 2.0 is and will be a world where the marketer has full control of the effectiveness of their marketing spends.
The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did. Increasingly empowered consumers, more self-reliant advertisers and ever-evolving technologies will redefine how advertising is sold, created, consumed and tracked. There is no question that the future of advertising & marketing will look radically different from its past. As advertising budgets shift to new formats and shape the future advertising market, control of marketing revenues and power will hinge on four key market drivers: attention, creativity, measures and advertising inventories. Whether agencies in Pakistan will be able to cope, I do not know.
Traditional advertising players – broadcasters, distributors and advertising agencies – will get squeezed unless they can successfully implement consumer, business model and business design innovation to incorporate these new realities of life – the trends toward creative populism, personalized measurements, interactivity, open inventory platforms and greater consumer control. This means that many of the skills and capabilities that were the mainstay of success in the past will need refinement, transformation or even outright replacement.
The printing press did for communication what the Internet is doing for marketing. Both changed the medium of mass communication and both revolutionized the way things get done. Digital technology is slowly but surely reaching critical mass in Pakistan and already we are beginning to see a merging of the “old” and the “new” ways. The push for control of attention, creativity, measurements and inventory will reshape the advertising value chain and shift the balance of power. For both incumbents and new players, it is imperative to plan for multiple consumer futures, craft agile strategies and build new capabilities before advertising as we know it disappears. Here’s some food for thought for those who still want to cling to the old ways of advertising. Our kids are already growing up with the ability to watch pretty much what they want when they want. As they get older, do you think they’re going to accept anything less than that?