The end of advertising as we know it?

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I guess this is “old news,” as the data I’m about to share comes from a 2007 IBM Global Business Services study (aptly titled “The end of advertising as we know it”)—but perhaps that makes it even more compelling. Here goes:

71% of the 2400 consumers surveyed across five countries said they spend >2 hours/day on the Internet—not including work-related activities. In other words, almost 3/4 of this global sample spends several hours DAILY of their precious leisure-time online. [side note: do any of these people have children? Because if they do, what business do they have with 2 whole hours of daily leisure time?! I don’t get it.]

Meanwhile, 48% of the folks surveyed said they spend >2 hours/day watching TV.

In 2009, I’d bet my britches that the gap between those numbers has only grown larger with web use (fueled by time-intensive destinations like Facebook, YouTube, MMOs, virtual worlds, etc.), iPhone apps, on-demand TV, TiVo, DVR… and more(!) encroaching at a relentless pace on the Grandaddy of all advertising mediums.

The question is, as a brand, agency, or marketing professional… what are you doing about it?

Three heads in the sand

The “pretend it’s not happening” approach, while popular, is ill-advised. The music industry tried it a few years back when digital music first appeared on the scene. Now they’re hemorrhaging money and market share and being outsmarted by downstream vendors who responded to the shift toward digital.

[sigh]

Please don’t follow in doomed footsteps.

Even if I’m totally wrong about the increased gap (and we all know, the Genius is rarelyif ever—wrong), you can’t hide from the fact that you’ve still got a few disruptive forces that aint going nowhere, notime soon. Namely:

1. Consumers want control.
And not just of what they watch but how they watch it—and interact with it—as well as how they filter what they view, including ads.

And young people? They’re not having any of the “I WILL YELL LOUDLY AT YOU TILL YOU BUY SOMETHING” strategy of old. By next year, young Americans will outnumber Baby Boomers and make the shift toward digital (which they were BORN using, wanting, understanding, and expecting) a fait accompli.

I do hope you’re ready.

2. “Impact” is the new “Reach”.
Admit it. You’ve grown used to a world where “Reach” was the Holy Grail of marketing. For years, it’s been all about “impressions”, the idea being that the more eyeballs you snared, the more sales would result.

Now that the drugs have worn off, many marketers are dealing with a nasty hangover called “REALITY”. Just because you show up at a party looking wicked hot and flirt with EVERY guy, doesn’t mean you’ll go home with a ring on your finger. Get my drift? Same logic applies to the “spray and pray” philosophy of Old Marketing.

The party is over, folks. And the rulers (those funny things you measure stuff with) have come out.

Well… maybe not rulers per se. We’re all still trying to wrestle that nasty Metrics Monster to the ground. Oddly, I think he likes the wrestling and is growing fond of a good Full Nelson. [Dear God, it’s the drugs talking again…!]

Ahem.

Fact: Virtually all of us are enduring the joys of recession-mandated “rectal exams” in the form of account reviews, lowered credit limits, tighter budgets, and greater demand for true ROI. Impressions, clicks, even those new-fangled “engagement” metrics aren’t cutting it. The question is how did those impressions, clicks, and “engaged” consumers translate into increased brand awareness, positive word-of-mouth/mouse, and purchases downstream? If you haven’t figured out how to measure that yet, you’d better hop to it. Quick.

2/3 of the advertising executives IBM polled expect 20% of advertising revenue to shift from impression-based to impact-based formats within three years.

Yep. P.S. that research was published 2 years ago.

And last but not least,
3. The Consumer is also the Creator.
Thanks to technology, consumers have been empowered not just to choose their own destiny—but to create it. In the same way that we’ve seen the rise of “Reality TV” over the past several years, so User Generated Content is becoming The Dominant Force online. IBM’s previously referenced survey, for example, already showed in 2007 that UGC sites are the top destination for viewing online video content.

Look out, Mad Ave!

Which leads me back to my earlier question: Time’s are changin’. The masses are moving from one screen to another… to many. As a brand, agency, or marketing professional… what are you doing about it?

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70 ‘things to watch’ in ’07 reviewed

In December of 2006, brand-building power-house JWT produced a list of “70 Things to Watch in 2007.” A copy of it landed on my desk earlier this year, and at the time, I thought… well, this is kind of interesting.

Being a genius and all, I dipped it in a healthy dose of skepticism and filed it away in my wait-and-see-what-the-idiots-think file, where it sat collecting dust until… this morning.

I am particularly fond of the intro that frames the list:

“As globalization continues to make our world seem smaller, localization will come to a head in 2007,” says Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT. “We’ll put great emphasis on sourcing everything from food to textiles. Decadent and excessive consumption will fall to the wayside as we stress quality, minimal environmental impact and support of local producers.”

Right… and Hillary Clinton will ask Monica Lewinsky to be her Vice President, and a dozen purple pigs will fly out of my butt.

Of course the sad part is that I desperately wish Ann’s prediction came true… but then what in the world would I do for a living if there were no more interest in decadence and excessive consumption???

Anyway… here’s the list—with a few brilliant comments from Your Truly in bold. See how many of these things you’ve heard of—er, agree with. My personal fav has got to be #30: “brand sluts”. How and when did that become a cutting-edge trend???

Seventy Things to Watch in 2007 (by the folks at JWT):
1. Skype/VoIP
2. Wii and the next-generation gaming systems
3. The business of social networking (love it!)
4. Pop-up stores, restaurants and bars … installation style
5. Shrinky Dink technology (TVs are flat and hidden, iPods are down to half an ounce,
speakers are smaller and less visible, and so on)
6. The rise of nanotechnology
7. Sustainable construction/green buildings
8. Hydrogen fuel cell technology
9. Veggie-bus: school buses running on biodiesel fuel
10. Trans-fat fallout
11. Reality show talent searches (is that an oxymoron or what?)
12. Ohio State’s freshman basketball phenom, Greg Oden (who?)
13. Fear of agri-terrorism (Is that like, when McDonald’s runs out of Happy Meals?)
14. Halal foods
15. Participatory advertising (user-generated advertising and music video competitions) (love it!)
16. Premium-drink bars (thirsty just thinking about it….)
17. Organic fabrics
18. Stem cell research
19. Iceland (???? Really?)
20. Hybrid dogs (Dogs that run on batteries or solar panels? Huh?)
21. Locally sourced produce (how retro!)
22. Churchonomics: religion as big business
23. Reunions of donor insemination siblings (that’s an after-school special in the making, no?)
24. Hitting the off button: demanding downtime
25. Indian cross-over actress Aishwarya Rai
26. Home-schooling (EW!)
27. Natural building materials such as stone and wood
28. Binge chilling (sweet!)
29. Personalized diets
30. Brand sluts
31. Modernized tradition
32. Chindia
33. Alpha moms
34. Internet TV
35. Citizen journalism
36. RSS feeds
37. Fresh Direct
38. Google domination (Google as acquirer, and Microsoft as Google follower)
39. Mobile video
40. Rachael Ray
41. Inconspicuous consumption (like when I hide my copy of People under the whole wheat tortillas at the check-out line?)
42. X-Factor’s Leona Lewis
43. Dreamgirls’ Jennifer Hudson
44. Environmental causes
45. Companies going green
46. Barack Obama
47. Soft, natural hair
48. Microgeneration (generating one’s own energy)
49. Party planning for teens
50. Paying for user-generated content (sweet, maybe I’ll make a few bucks after all)
51. Higher-waisted pants
52. iPhone (this should have been at the TOP of the list!)
53. Co-branding (think Nike plus Apple)
54. Britain’s Amy Winehouse
55. The rebirth of raves
56. Energy-saving lightbulbs
57. Sacha Baron Cohen
58. Mash-ups (music, Web sites, everything)
59. Japanese apparel chain Uniqlo
60. Promoting “Brand Me” (uh… hello… that’s so 1999)
61. Ensemble TV casts (Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, Criminal Minds)
62. Multilingual cinema
63. “Kidults”
64. Transformers (the movie)
65. Web-based microfinancing
66. Generosity (not that!!!!!)
67. Al Gore, the environmentalist
68. Unstrategic alliances (Paris and Britney, Tom and Brooke, Bush Sr. and Clinton)
69. Europeans getting fatter (it’s about time!)
70. Age shuffling (40 is the new 20, for example)