“We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us”
I have to admit that the below isn’t my theory. Instead it’s based on a compelling article I read by J Walker Smith, the executive chairman of Kantar Futures.| February 1st, 2017
The article itself was focused on programmatic consumption but also touched on peoples changing relationship with marketing communications. This is the area I’ll expand upon in this blog post.
We spend a lot of time talking about attention and professing that people’s attention is diminishing. That ‘attention’ has become the currency we optimise to. Therefore it’s probably worth understanding why our ability, as advertisers, to hold attention has changed and what we should do about it.
Commanding attention through advertising has always been a cost/benefit relationship – as long as the benefits outweigh the costs (of both time and effort) we will consume.
In the last few years that cost/benefit relationship has been disrupted.
Costs are rising; time has become precious as our lives have become busier, technology has increased the volume of content competing for our attention as well as facilitating the ability to skip and avoid altogether.
As a consequence, we see the cost/benefit crossover point being reached faster and consequently attention is harder to command.
So far so logical – I hope!
Examined in this light, however, we see the general industry reaction to the new reality is counterintuitive because, for the most part, it’s been about trying to get time-poor people to do more.
To try and more favorably rebalance the cost/benefit equation, many marketers’ answer has been to try and pile benefits up:
- ‘Watch my three minute video’
- ‘Experience my VR application’
- ‘Tune in for my Live Facebook Story’
Asking more of people, especially today, is an exceptionally difficult thing to do – not least because the benefit to a person consuming will almost always juxtapose with the benefits a brand wants to relay.
That’s not to say that it cannot be done but, commanding that level of attention as an advertiser, is the exception not the rule. Indeed it goes against the way most people are using digital technology in their daily lives.
People use digital to remove ‘costs’ from their lives.
Uber, Deliveroo, Google, Amazon, Spotify – these are all companies that primarily remove the costs of time and effort.
Thus our approach to advertising should mirror human behavior and should predominantly be to take costs out.
We need to make our advertising simpler, more concise, more to the point – and only ask a small amount of attention.
In 1997, when launching the legendary ‘Think Different’ campaign internally at Apple, Steve Jobs said:
“We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us… so we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us”
That was true in 1997 and, two decades on, it’s even more accurate.
Focusing the on the most salient elements of our brands and finding ways to relay them that incur fewer ‘costs’ will, for the most part, be the true art of marketing strategy and creative advertising in the future.
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