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A few days ago, I read somewhere (I wish I could cite the source) that nowadays, people’s attention span is down to an all time low. How low? About 8 seconds! That compares to the attention span of a Gold Fish! However, and not surprisingly, the same study also shows that the average person spends 50% of their attention on some type of mobile device experience. And that percentage of time continues to grow.
The interesting thing is that in the very old times, with very little media (social or otherwise) and technology around us, the best form of advertising was just word-of-mouth. If a movie was recommended to me, I would go see it. Forget that the trailer sucked or the movie poster was not very attractive. If a friend told me of a good fishing spot, I would go right there. Today, thanks to the Internet, algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning, word-of-mouth advertising and recommendations have allowed us -and advertisers – to reach a much wider audience beyond the people that we actually know within our limited circle of friends.
Word of Mouth, in its many online variations, is still the best form or advertising. You can think of it as advertising with a seal of approval. This approval comes in way of referrals, influencers, social sharing, look-alike audiences, online reviews, chats, messaging, etc. After all, whose opinion would you rather trust, the statement of a print ad or your friend’s direct recommendation? The answer is quite clear and in this case, your friend has just become an ‘influencer.’
We see how this works every day. A large percentage of Amazon sales rely on customer reviews. Podcasts, mobile apps, online retailers, service businesses, they all achieve top ranks thanks to customer reviews and recommendations. Ranking algorithms – including those of search engines – are developed to reward those who achieve higher relevance among their competitors, making it very difficult to debunk a top seller once they get to the top.
When you see companies like Facebook (that also owns Instagram), Apple, Alphabet (parent company of Google and YouTube), Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, Verizon, etc., investing so much of their technology and budgets towards media content, you don’t have to be very smart to see where the advertising market is going. Add to that the fact that mobile bandwidth and mobile technology that allows for high quality video content is now widespread in all major metro markets and you can easily understand while user consumption and generation of video content is at an all time high.
Years ago, when a company wanted to rank high organically with Search Engines, we used to say that “Content is King.” Writing and posting knowledgeable articles on their website would make them an authority in their field and get more referrals that in turn would result in higher SEO rankings. And that still works very well… only now, it’s not just written content. It’s “Media Content” and it’s not just Google rankings, but also Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and all other social media platforms. Over the next decade, any company that wants to remain at the top of their advertising niche, will need to become a ‘media’ company first followed by their particular manufacturing or services field.
As a marketer, you can no longer measure micro ROI results for each individual campaign. That type of granular measurement will make you lose sight of the big picture. Rather, marketers will need to look at a much wider spectrum of branding initiatives to quantify results. It’s Branding vs Selling. Providing value vs continuous sales pitches. Focusing on promoting your brand vs selling your products.
Going back to the first paragraph of this article, remember that you only have 8-10 seconds of attention span from the average consumer at your disposal. If you keep bombarding your customers with sales pitches and Buy! Buy! Buy! offers, they will turn you off before you know it. However, if you can attract their attention by providing them with something that they feel is valuable to them, they will remember you and your brand and they will come back to you when you introduce to them your next great offer.
You’re looking for engagement not impressions. Traditional ad agencies and media buying companies will try to convince you buy this ad space here or there, or create a TV Commercial campaign, or complete some ridiculously expensive study involving ‘focus groups’ with people that say one thing but do another.
We must be smarter than that. When you are at the airport waiting for your flight and you look around you and all other passengers around you are fully focused on their phones with their earphones on, you can’t tell me that your focus group said that your agency’s print ad was beautiful… BECAUSE NOBODY IS READING THE MAGAZINE THAT IS SELLING YOU THEIR AD SPACE! I don’t care how much circulation they say they have.
However, if you post on Facebook and Instagram some improv behind-the-scenes video clip showing interesting facts about your location, your team at work, how your products are made, your restaurant kitchen working at capacity or your hotel guests enjoying the sunset by the beach, I can tell you that you will see a much greater tangible engagement just a few minutes later. Your video will be liked, commented on, shared, it will add followers to your account and reach a much wider audience than any print ad can ever offer… and best of all, for a (very) small fraction of the cost!
Just ask yourself, is your marketing structure still tailored to target last decade’s consumers trends, or are you shifting your marketing to where consumers are heading in 3-5-10 years from now?
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)