The Last Advertising Agency on Earth

May 25, 2011

In order to answer some questions I got recently, I am going to re-use part of a blog post I wrote some time ago, as it comes in nicely here.

Society, media, consumption and media use are changing. Advertising must follow suit and evolve/adapt… or disappear. It is doing so, moving on a continuum from top-down over permission to participation:

  • traditional marketing communication: push – attention – interruption – one-way – top-down
  • permission marketing: inbound – tradigital – pull
  • conversation marketing: social engagement – value-based – participation

Some dynamic elements move this conversation forward and prove to be useful ingredients:

  • listening into social media – to get the pulse / the feel of how media use is changing, how people express themselves, how they intereact with the media and with each other through the media – e.g. blogging has its own tone of voice, which is different from messaging on Facebook, or on LinkedIn, which is different from contents on Twitter, …
  • listening into your brandscape – what do people say about you, and how can you / need you answer that, positive or negative; this means well-known one-way communication must change into two-way communication rapidly evolve into multi-way / networked communication
  • caring about people – providing content that brings them a real / wanted value; which can only be done after careful listening
  • engaging people, i.e. matching the deliberate value / the care you give people with the appropriate context where the need / want for value arises – that is, evolving from content producers to context producers and acting as experience facilitators
  • virality – if your brand experience is truly engaging, you can hope for your audience, as small as it may be, to turn into ambassadors for your brand who spread the message you or they have produced – expect them to do so if they are disappointed with your brand experience – which leads us back to the “listening” ingredient in a communication loop / spiral

This change is not mainly a technological change – it is sociological and psychological in nature. The marketing communicator’s role is driving content across platforms — on- and off-line — and create new experiences leading to engagement. In this evolution,  the technology is rightly considered to be the engine. But people are in the driver’s seat, and the data they provide is the fuel.

Now, if you consider I was exaggerating when I claimed advertising is in danger if it sticks to its traditional model and refuses to evolve, I invite you to bear in mind the title of Bob Garfield’s book “The Chaos Scenario“. Bob Garfield is a long-time Madison Avenue observer for AdAge. I also invite you to watch this video I intended to end my LIVErtising course with, time allowing. It is entitled The Last Advertising Agency on Earth. Enjoy!

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