Wednesday, July 31

Digital Advertising Will Become An Added-Value Function

If you want to succeed in advertising and marketing, the first best practice to learn is how to stop following leaders and learn to leap frog over them. Right. Innovation is the fundamental ingredient to market disruption, especially for marketers who track industry trends. Their play books look different.

Right now, what some of these marketers and advertisers are telling me is that added-value content will always have a place but developing added-value functions can turn a customer's head. Why? These marketers know that it pays to be so good they can't ignore you (Steve Martin) instead of paying to win someone else over (SAP) to get some attention. Don't talk about something. Do it.

Advertisers and marketers can look at three critical trends to make it happen — technological advancement, physical-virtual convergence, and marketing functionality (innovations in operations and customer ease using technology, especially what we call mobile advertising today) for inspiration. All three point to marketing and advertising models that engage people beyond a click and start to consider every aspect of the customer experience.

• One device will eclipse the "any device" concept. When Google first announced Google Glass, I was surprised by the design (and perhaps a little disappointed). What surprised me was that despite Google knowing that 90 percent of device owners switch screens to complete tasks (Google | Think Insights), it opted to make Google Glass a standalone device (although it can run on an Android) and not merely a screen extension, which would prolong the battery life, potentially increase user storage, and reduce the number of components needed.

After all, almost every design and development trend suggests that we are moving toward an era where every smart phone has the power of a personal computer, making every screen and keyboard a potential extension of that device. The only reason you might want two devices would relate to privacy.

Otherwise, one smart phone with a hard or wireless connection will seamlessly transition from the phone screen (or some other device) to a tablet, to a desktop, to a television display, to a presentation projector with the speed and efficiency of all those tools as they exist today. One of the most interesting things is the very real concept of turning an entire room into a halo suite gaming experience. Outside of gaming, this is one step away from halo suite classrooms where students and teachers are projected into physical spaces in real time, with how they appear dependent on the perspective of the person in the space.

• The dual environment concept will cease to exist. For the better part of a decade, I've been helping communication-related professionals to stop thinking about "social media" as a medium unto itself with online friends as opposed to offline friends and more like another environment, where different mediums and duplicate media can be discovered (everything from newspapers to broadcast networks to seminars and classrooms). And yet, I know that the days of this effective analogy are numbered.

When you consider that 84 percent of shoppers are using their phones in a physical store (Google | Think Insights) or that up to 85 percent of the population use devices while watching television (The Guardian), it becomes readily apparent that what used to be viewed as two environments is converging into an augmented environment. Ergo, online and offline are becoming increasingly dependent on each other, with no distinction between brick and mortar or online stores.

You can see it at work everywhere. The breakthrough of Airbnb isn't a collaborative economy as much as it organizes the physical world in order to create new opportunities. The same can be said for Uber, which organizes personal transportation in select cities around the world. And, in the near future, proximity tools will help you find the shirt you see online inside the store you're in (or vice versa), right down to the shelf. And perhaps, with membership, make visiting the cash register optional by either automatically checking you out or allowing you to check yourself out.

• Digital advertising is poised to become a functional utility. Within the next year, more marketers will begin to retool how they view mobile and digital marketing by looking beyond promotional pushes and toward a deeper understanding of digital-to-physical engagement. McDonald's is already taking the first step.

While some elements of its new Monopoly iAds campaign are clunky, others are well ahead of other marketers in that McDonald's is trying to get people in the store whereas most marketers are trying to get them to like a Facebook page. Expect McDonald's to move the ball further down the field by making an optional digital game board next year (as opposed to a downloaded game board) and offering real time mobile rewards during in-store visits.

The underlying push here is not all about promotion, but rather developing digital advertising that becomes part of an organization's operation by offering a functional benefit to the consumer. The concept will manifest in different ways. Stores could migrate inventory lists into an interactive proximity app or chains could include citywide searches; a mobile app that can tell you what needs to be serviced on your car; games, tools, and utilities that deliver value-added mobile functions as opposed to value-added content alone; and physical events that include live social coverage, enticing people to attend right now.

Another thought about the future of marketing. Everyone always likes to talk about eyeballs, but sometimes the best marketing advice for any business is much more hands on and increasingly simple.

Even the woman who cuts my hair knows it. She doesn't market herself using Twitter, but she does take advantage of technology. At the end of every session, she schedules my next appointment. The application she uses automatically sends me a reminder the day before. If I have an unexpected conflict, I can change it.

Some people might consider this good customer service. Others might consider it good marketing. And therein lies the sweet spot. When your customer service and marketing efforts become so seamless that they are virtually indistinguishable from each other, then it becomes difficult for anyone to ignore.
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