the social media effect - part 1: interruptive & disruptive media

May 19, 2009 ·

much has been made in the last while about how social media is the future of marketing (spoiler: it's a part of the future, but not the sole inhabitor of it). how it will shift the consumer and brand relationship (indeed it will in some aspects). how it will banish other media to obsolescence and there will soon be no more interruptive/disruptive brand messging, it will all be opt-in. and that's when i get off the train.

i don't believe this is going to be the case, not for a long while, if ever. there's no denying what potential social media holds or the shift in b2c, c2c, c2b interactions is powerful. what i can deny is how it will obliterate other forms of advertising.

interruptive/disruptive (i/d from here on in) media still has a role and will for some time. how long? who knows. it's not the point. the point is that i/d media is still very powerful (there's a lot of argument around it diminishing - a later blog perhaps), yet just another tool in a marketers box. just like social media is just another tool.

the chief reason why i/d media gets such a bad rap and seen as evil boils down to one main factor that is currently mostly absent -> relevance. it's a simple concept, but makes all the difference. you don't tune out or get outraged if it's a message you actually care to see. i also want to mention value here. it is a subset of relevance, but bears mentioning. if it's relevant, it's probably valuable.

i see relevance as having three components: appeal - informative - need state.
  • appeal -> simply that the brand or product fills an emotional or physical gap and makes you feel good when consuming.
  • informative -> the content of the message instructs your or informs you of how the brand or product will be good for you.
  • need state -> this is mostly timing. that the messge is received when most receptive because it's required (whether that's a true need or a want need)
relevance will find permanance through technology. it's almost here. soon will exist ways of formerly mass media to become much more targeted, and singular in nature. and thus relevance will follow.

a minority report or tek war (yeah, i'm throwing that reference out, watch it) type future of hyper targeted to the individual advertising is upon us. some examples: IP TV, the fridge that catlogs and reminds you what you need and of course, google adwords.

what's necessary to make this happen is the consumer and their opting in. from my perspective, it's a no brainer. who wouldn't want to? if i can now go through my life without having to hear or see tampons, birth control or hair products, then yes, i'm in (though that could be someone else's ideal). if i have to see something (and right now, you do), it might as well be meaningful to me.

this year's cmdc conference did well to extrapolate on this kind of future. in the final session of the day, three groups were taksed to give their vision of media in the year 2020. all three came up with a variant on the same basic premise; that of a device, carried with you everywhere, that identifies you, your demographic makeup, preferences, and product usage, amongst other leverageable by marketers data points. this then ties into everything surrounding you so as to serve you specific content or ads. and thus solving the relevancy issue.

and that's the cloud, right? the semantic web of interconnectedness and personally identifiable data. at least one extension of it.

part of understanding and accepting that i/d media will still be employed and be valuable to marketers is breaking our notions of what form it will take. the :30 sec tv spot isn't it, but is still what we use as our example of how that kind of media works. there's a lot of problems with holding that as our best form of i/d media. that in itself is a post for another day but to list them quickly: 1) length of spot, 2) long commercial breaks, 3) less informative ads 4) not interactive amongst others.

the future of i/d media is in it getting smarter and more sophisticated. we'll find more impactful, less invasive, more integrated and generally better ways of approaching i/d media. these will extend the life of these marketing channels and continue to make them valuable tools.

that's my take on interruptive/disruptive media. it's not going anywhere, anytime soon. that still doesn't fully address the social media implications or the whole notion of opt-in only advertising. well it does, in part. that's opting-in to see ads, not opting-in to certain brands.

that's part 2 coming in a few days. where social media fits in with the whole marketers toolbox. you probably also noticed that i haven't stated exactly how much i/d media there will be and the exact role it will play with the rest of the tools. that too is coming in part 3.




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