All posts in “attention”

Is the Future of Advertising Many Lightweight Interactions Over Time?

Leona Hobbs is Vice President & Partner at Social Media Group.

From Paul Adams (currently at Facebook, formerly head of social research at Google) comes this interesting post where he muses about the future of advertising:

To be a successful advertiser on the web in the future, you will need to build content based on many, lightweight interactions over time.

Now this certainly strikes a chord with me, as we work at SMG to bring content marketing services to our clients and shift their marketing activities from mass/broadcast to targeted/value-add. Mr. Adams considers the way people build relationships (any relationship) over time. We meet someone in passing, bump into them at a party, and gradually, over time we develop a friendship – a lasting relationship.

Because marketing and branding are very new relative to the history of our species (only 150 years old at best) it makes sense that we would build relationships with brands the same way. Many, lightweight interactions over time is how we’re wired to build deep, emotional connections. Therefore, our marketing plans should be built around this insight. We have intuitively and subconsciously made rough attempts at this by spreading our messages across multiple media—magazines, billboards, TV, radio, web banner ads. Add on the other lightweight interactions we have with brands—in the retail store, chatting with our friends, seeing other people use the brand—and we have an interesting framework: many, lightweight interactions over time.

Paul Adams thinks disruption and attention as the framework for advertising is ending and I am inclined to agree. Attention, however, is still what we’re after, and as marketers, we need to earn that attention. Many of our clients are facing the reality that their marketing must change to provide a sustained stream of value-added branded content, quality interactions and experiences with fans and followers and remarkable experiences offline and on. Maggie and I have been singing this song for a few years now: success with integrated digital and social media marketing = sustained momentum in channel + campaign.

Because we build relationships with things through many lightweight interactions over time, advertising will need to do the same to be heard. Although specific short-term campaigns around launching new products and new product variants will exist, they will be built on top of a solid ‘always-on’ foundation. The ‘always-on’ foundation will be far more important than short term campaigns because that is how people act in real life. Our real life relationships with friends are ‘always-on’. Our real life relationships with brands are ‘always-on’. Advertising will need to be the same.

The entire post is certainly worth a read. Also, Paul Adam’s book Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web contains more relevant insights for marketers as we shift our modi operandi to build lasting relationships with our customers.