Matt Webster
Matt Webster 3 June 2016
Categories Advertising, Content, Mobile

A Date with Content: Shouting Narcissist Vs The Over- Zealous Listener

The digital age has brought countless advantages to the human race. One is a greater level of control over the information that we are exposed to. Before Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, TV, print and outdoor were kings of the eye balls.

Advertisers pretty much had a straight line route, as-the-crow-flies journey to an ocean of ocular attention. Television was the undisputed prince regent of propaganda and so quickly became one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. This was especially true for companies who wanted to tell as many people as possible about their products and brands.

Undisputed Prince Regent of Propaganda

In the age before the internet (pre 1989), when TV ruled supreme, there was zero control for the people at home watching. The content which contained the interesting programmes, aka human stories, were scheduled. If you missed one?… tough. You’d have to ask your friends and colleagues the next day in order to get any update on the latest cliff-hanger. Brands beamed their story-interrupting adverts at you whether you liked it or not. They also ‘told you’ information about their product and it didn’t really matter if you had anything to say back. The content was hosed across the terrestrial channels. The bigger the media spend, the longer the tap was left on and the wider the angle of the nozzle. The balding white male complete with patterned tie was the silverback of the broadcast terrestrial world and your living room. His box ruled the roost in homes across the world and the only control you had over what content brands ‘told you’ was by using the remote. It was pretty much like having an endless chat with your least favourite mate down the pub. The one who has zero interest in what you have to say and only talks about how he almost made pro footballer, until he did his ankle in.

We are no longer Hoovers

But the living room is no longer centre stage, in fact for TV it’s more like a waiting room in a palliative care ward. We no longer sit on the sofa and exclusively give all of our attention to the corner of the room. Of course we now have much more choice of when and where we interact with content.  We are no longer hoovers being bullied by the narcissistic silver backs of the box. The smart phone is now the dominant screen that follows us round wherever we go. In fact the most important place to be for advertisers now is on the screen that lives in the palm of our hands. It is now the ayatollah of advertising and its delivery. Recent findings by Periscopix – Merkle showed that 2015 was the first time since mobile traffic has been recorded, that computer traffic accounted for less than 50% of all clicks. Add constant connectivity and social media into the mix and you have a potent potion creating an ever-evolving super-hive of opinion. Content is now tailored to suit the various channels that you dip in and out of throughout the day an average of 221 times!

Brands have to break up their content and deliver it to you any time and any place. If it’s the right message at the right time on the right platform – maybe you’ll turn on your tractor beam. And who knows, you may even take action and share, give an opinion or holiest of holies…buy a brand’s product as a result. So they’ve had to work harder and smarter to get the basket. But one’s things for sure we’re no longer hoovers, as we now have a voice and it can be shared and amplified by our peers. Crucially, this voice is being listened to.

The rise of personalisation

Levels of consumer control will continue to rise, as will the power of collaborative opinion and multi-layered dialogue between people and brands. You only have to look at the growing success of real time bidding in programmatic ads to see that personalisation of content is becoming even more honed. You’ll be served more and more relevant content to you, is that better than being hosed? Probably. When it comes to branded content, you’re now on date with an over-zealous listener rather than a narcissist with a hosepipe. The thing is the date no longer ends when you leave the living room. Creepy? Maybe. But that’s not an uncommon way for humans to view interactions with emerging technology. It’s a fun time for agencies to create content because it has to entertain the viewer in some way, it has to evoke an emotion. Otherwise the content will get lost in the abyss. Delivering the content now has to take the audience into consideration in a big way and the mantra of the three R’s rings true. Right content, Right audience, Right time. The first R requires creativity and risk taking, the second two need the smart phone and the over-zealous listener.

Remember the scene below from ‘Minority Report’ depicting targeted advertising of the future? And also more recently the film ‘Her’ shows us an outlook on a not-too distant future where our own OS serves us with (almost) everything we need. Siri’s been around for a while but look out for voice activation becoming more integrated into our lives as we demand more relevance and entertainment from the content we are served.


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