What is beyond interruption advertising? By Martin Brossman
Aren’t you tired of interruptions in your attention before you get to view the information or entertainment you want? Don’t you think it’s time for advertisers to come up with something other than pushing unwelcome information at us? Watching unrequested ads puts me into an annoyed state—how is this possibly well-thought-through marketing?
Our attention is one of the most expensive things we have in our lives today. Wealthy or poor, we all feel the restraint of time in our accelerated world. A one-minute commercial that was tolerable in the past is intolerable today. We now are spending money and effort to avoid unwanted ads by using recording devices for TV shows and getting our news on the Web.
This advertising assault on our attention has been a background of annoyance to me, and it reached a crescendo with the understanding of the brilliance of Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm, driven by semantic search. After reading David Amerland’s great book, Google Semantic Search, that reveals the wonder behind Google’s Hummingbird, I realized we now have what I view as the first level of Artificial Intelligence (AI), enabling us to naturally speak a question into a mobile device and get search results.
Still, we are relying on a marketing system that has barely come out of the Stone Age, whacking away at our attention in hope of convincing us to buy things. In contrast to future-minded semantic search, which presents answers that show understanding of the intent behind the search, our traditional advertising approach seems to be as primitive as a cave man using a club because he has not discovered the hammer and chisel yet. Just as a laser would be outside the comprehension of early man, in the new world of Google’s new AI-like search engine, isn’t interruption advertising like a blunt stick?
So, let’s imagine what is beyond traditional advertising in a world where:
We guard our attention more than ever.
We are less tolerant of unwanted interruptions to our attention by ads.
We are more suspicious of “authority” and marketing.
Our trust in brands is weakened.
Our internal authenticity detector is getting better and our secondary validation is higher.
We want to know what other people have to say about it and we want it to be real.
During my December 19, 2013 Hangouts On Air, I spoke with David Amerland, social media expert and author of Google Semantic Search, to discover what he believes is beyond Interruption Advertising.
Here are some highlights of the interview:
▪ According to Amerland, with the power of the new Google Hummingbird algorithm, those ads that jump up at you before you get to the content you want will be replaced with real communication between suppliers and their customers.
▪ He explained that the current advertising philosophy was sold on metrics – how many clicks, views or impressions an ad made; all very accountable but the return on investment has been diminishing as we work to avoid the pop ups and banner ads. We have become “banner blind” and now quickly click to close the ad to get on to our goal.
▪ One work-around for marketers has been native advertising which emulates the function and form of the content surrounding it. For instance, Google Search advertising looks like the rest of the search. I believe that this must be done in a transparent way or it will not be trusted.
▪ How does a micro business compete with the deep pockets of major corporations? Amerland says, “…with their passion for their business.” He says to use your passion and strengthen your communication with your customer through social media. You can blog, post photos or just tweet about your business to connect with your customer on a human level.
▪ I mentioned that this is a huge behavioral change that requires you to wake up each morning and think of yourself as a reporter searching for the next story about your business. Amerland suggested that business owners are accustomed to preparing their physical storefronts to attract customers, now you need to make the mental shift to digitally presenting your services and products.
▪ I think of it as talking to a wall that at some point will respond. Amerland tweaked my idea and stated that it is more like going to a party where you don’t really know anyone. In that situation you will drift toward the conversation that most appeals to you and you’ll listen. Then you’ll either join that conversation or move on to another. Utilize the same skills you have offline to create your on-line connections and you’ll find your presence, your network, will grow.
▪ That led us to discussing companies that relied on big budget marketing plans and failed to listen to their customers; the companies were JC Penny and The Gap. Penny’s went through a disastrous reinvention that left their stalwart customers out in the cold. The Gap spent $5 million to redo their logo only to have their customers pledge to abandon them if they kept the new branding. Both companies realized the error of their ways and made a costly U-turn. To me, this points to the competitive advantage of a small business–listening closer to the customer than a larger company can.
▪ Amerland notes that the flexibility of microbusinesses is a huge advantage in the marketplace. The small business owner can use social media to build a network of customers and fans who feel that they have a stake in the success of the business. Amerland feels that social media is the new village square where people gather to find and share the best resources for information, products, and services. He says it is a “…trust environment on a global setting. We are getting the best of both worlds.”
▪ I wanted to understand more about courting the customer. Amerland says that you need to think collaboratively about the needs and wants of your customer. You need to listen to them and note the trends, shifts and changes that are happening in your market place. Small businesses using social media are in a strong position to quickly respond to those changes as long as they are actively involved and listening to their customers.
▪ Amerland also mentioned that the workplace is becoming more collaborative as well. Since information that was once meted out from select resources and delivered on a schedule is now available to anyone at any time, the relationship between employers and employees is changing. Transparency in the workplace and with customers and clients is necessary and humanizing. Your resume is no longer a neatly typed carefully worded paper. Your resume is your on-line profile, blogs, photos, tweets and reviews that all go back to your name. You are much more than just a profession. You are a human being with interests, experiences and opinions.
▪ Which brought up the question of guidelines for social media and do they exist? Amerland emphatically stated that just as you wouldn’t wear a business suit to the beach, you shouldn’t show up at the office in your Speedo. He commented that it is interesting that our on-line profiles define us as people first and then professionally. He feels that it is all part of building that trust with our customers.
▪ As for the daily or weekly rant that may raise a dissenting view, Amerland is unconcerned. He believes that people can choose to read your rant and then agree or disagree as they see fit. The rant in itself is humanizing and makes a connection with your audience. (My viewpoint is that with the diversity of people’s upbringing and culture, there is a concern in having no guidelines for the employees and just 100% trusting they will know what is acceptable for the culture of that business and they will do the right thing. One example of having guidelines is the Apple employees in the Apple store who may have jeans, tattoos or body piercing but clearly don’t cross certain guidelines Apple spelled out. They seem to take pride in knowing where those boundaries are, giving the employees the freedom of expression while protecting the voice of the business.)
▪ In summing up, Amerland confirmed that authenticity is the key to successfully connecting with your customers. He said it is the uniting thread in an entirely new world, “…We must be thoughtful and make the connection.” In the past, digital contact was a barrier but now with multi-feeds connecting us we can filter everything, find the authenticity, and make a true connection.
▪ I noted that this Hangout happened because of digital connectivity even though we are continents apart and had never personally met. “The walls… borders are easily vaulted,” said Amerland. “We have bedrock of shared values and ideas across the globe.” The new world will be collaborative thanks to the digital environment. Our job is to listen, learn, and respond.
I see the future of effective advertising: including the product or service information showing up with authentic reviews, not gamed by the business at the moment we are ready to see this information; using quality content that earns our trust due to its truthfulness; backed by personal engagement designed to truly hear the customer; and empowered to respond to the customer’s needs.
What do you think the marketing future will hold beyond interruption advertising? What do you think are ways small business can implement this new marketing with their tight budgets? What do you think are ways to honor our attention and still sell the products? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
To hear the David Amerland interview in its entirety as a Podcast go to iTunes and listen to the show by the same title on Inquire On-Line:
Or see the original Video Hangout OnAir:
Let’s here your thought and perspective….