When I first joined the world of advertising many moons ago (yes that’s me above), the purpose, the business discipline and group of people who worked in and around it had a mindset geared towards trying to create a brand to reach a maximum audience.
To be seen by millions to have a huge impact was the goal of any advertising brief and piece of work.
We ran around the agency with our clients spending time looking backward from past advertising, admiring great memorable ads as well as digging into research on what people liked and didn’t like about ads.
We researched what had happened, generally believing that past advertising techniques would show us the way to great future advertising programs of work.
While there is no doubt the advertising science has matured over the last twenty-five years. We have learned to talk about a mass market ambition via using data, target audiences, look-alikes. We also use consumer research to produce a brand proposition that is the basis to drive an Omnichannel idea.
However, I still wonder often when in the day to day of work if we have the right mindset on what a great brand experience should be?
If we look closely, advertising has not evolved anywhere to the levels and changes that consumer media behavior has.
The millions of media channels we have in the world today has resulted in an explosion of ‘ad noise,’ and the result is people actively go out to resist advertising and focus on their own personal content consumer journey with the mobile phone the prime access point.
I think many of the problems with the advertising industry we are experiencing today, means the industry transformation we are on today fundamentally is not addressing the one major issue. Our advertising industry mindset.
The advertising industry still thinks its role is to create mass marketing.
Today the always-connected consumer is far from a mass target yet the advertising process we have in place, and the conversation that results around it still has a mindset advertising is for the mass market.
I think the tipping point was ten years ago. We still had limited media channels to chose from and social media was not mainstream or making the impact it does today on owned media. The professional advertising solution could do a mass marketing campaign. Alternatively, at least it was possible to make a significant impact pending on how much press spend you put behind your campaigns.
Today, however, paid media is not a silver bullet.
Paid advertising is being filtered out both with ad blockers but more by a changed content behavior where we just don’t want ads in our life. Alternatively, as few as possible.
The growth of Netflix with no advertising is an example of change, and you only have to look up from this screen you are reading this blog, and you will see all the world’s faces staring down into their mobile phone for hours per day viewing a personally delivered channel of content.
While this goes on and more often than not old tied advertising processes are being rolled by agencies with clients saying they have the magic approach to do some mass marketing and to appeal to the mass.
They are saying there is now a promise paid media can find your exact audience target and with that push a targeted impression can be placed on them.
The result is an Ad that looks like an Ad, the creative is usually dumbed down, and the click from the ad is also to an average consumer click to the conversion experience. It’s frankly just got to stop.
When you seek to push a paid advertising unit of any description onto someone, you rarely delight anyone. Moreover, if you’re not the unique, essential, one-of-a-kind changemaker brand, you never get a chance to engage with the market on any mass level.
The solution today in marketing is counterintuitive but straightforward.
Stake out the smallest market you can imagine.
The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you the advertising media planned promises, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.
When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story, and your impact will all get better.
Moreover, then, ironically enough, the word will spread. It will take longer, but you are more likely going to please that audience, maybe even create some purpose and longevity.
It’s easy to talk about in the abstract, but difficult to put into practice I appreciate but once that mindset is firmly accepted I think so much change can take place.
Just about every brand you care about, just about every organization that matters to you–this is how they got there.
By focusing on only a few and ignoring the non-believers, the uninvolved and the average.
This is my last day at Dentsu Inc as Chief Digitial Officer at Dentsu Brand Agencies in the Asia Pacific. It has been a real privilege to be in the network during what has been constant change and evolution of the Dentsu Inc and Dentsu Aegis communication business.
Dentsu Aegis Network is today a highly-integrated and highly-competitive global marketing services group built for the digital economy. Since 2013, Dentsu Aegis Network has doubled its revenues from £1.8bn to £3.6bn and grown organically at twice the rate of its competitors.
I will be returning to Australia during November and basing myself in my homeland while also seeking out my next digital transformation assignment for 2019 and beyond. Stay tuned.