Every year, different trends and techniques change the way we see advertising. These are the most influential techniques and tactics you should consider in your 2018 campaigns and beyond.
Avoid Participating in Disruption
Disruption was once the driving force behind many advertising campaigns. Every creative brief produced in the 90s, and for a decade beyond, talked about disruption. How do we stand out from the clutter? How do we grab their attention? How do we smack them in the face and get them to stop doing what they’re doing, so that they will pay attention to our advertising? That is history.
Disrupting anyone, especially on mobile, is a one-way ticket to a ticked off consumer. They are tired of it all. They hate being interrupted. They despise waiting for an ad to load before they can read their articles. They become infuriated when their experience is overtaken by paid content. You do not want to be on the receiving end of that kind of bad feeling. As Seth Godin predicted many years ago in “Permission Marketing,” you will do so much better if people want to interact with your brand. If the consumer misses your messages, you’re doing it right.
There was a famous TV chef in the UK called Delia Smith. Whenever she used or mentioned a specific product on her show, the stores would run out of the item the following day. If it was good enough for Delia, it was good enough for the general public.
In America, there was Oprah’s Favorite Things. And of course, Dr. Oz only had to whisper the name of a product and there would be a run on it. Those are all examples of influencers directly impacting sales in a positive way, even though most of the time, they were not being paid to say anything, or use the products.
Now, in the age of Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest, influencer marketing is a massive business. For example, Kim Kardashian West has over 94 million followers on Instagram, and over 50 million followers on Twitter. If Kim is seen using a product or endorsing it, then you can guess what happens. This kind of marketing is worth millions to her, and the advertisers are willing to pay that price. Far better to spend the money on a product endorsement than a flash Super Bowl ad with a huge media budget.
Of course, not just any brand can get through the KKW filter, and even if it can, it may not have the money. So, choose your influencers wisely. And keep in mind, any time you attach yourself to a celebrity, you have to take the rough with the smooth. They are not perfect, and if they get into trouble in the media, your brand can be dragged along.
Think Beyond the Screen
For the last few years, advertisers have been focused, sometimes with laser precision, on advertising that targets mobile, tablets, and computers. While this is not a trend that is going to go away, the pendulum needs to swing. And this year, it will start to happen.
That’s not to say that traditional out of home and print is going to undergo a massive revival. Like the coal industry, those media buys are in trouble for a reason. However, it will behoove you to look beyond the screen to engage your customers. Then, you can capitalize on those tactics to drive people to their screens to order, or find out more.
Guerrilla marketing should be on your mind. Not the typical ads in toilets and on pavements, but stunts and events that attract attention; the kind of attention that hits sites like Reddit.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These days, getting your ad in front of real people is a much easier way to get people on screens to interact with your advertisement. A classic example — the vending machine stunts that are filmed with hidden cameras.
Do likewise. Don’t think about the small number of people who will actually see the ad or event in person. Think about the shareability of the ad. Is this worth the time and effort for the public to film it, and share it? Go there, and you will get a massive ROI on a relatively small stunt, rather than plowing hundreds of thousands into online buys and promoted content.
Make Every Word Count
It’s said that only 28 percent of the words written in any online article or advertisement are actually read by the consumer. Or in other words, 72 percent of everything you write will be completely ignored. You must carefully consider every word in your advertisements. Is each word working hard enough? Will five do instead of fifteen? French mathematician Blaise Pascal was the first of many smart people to concede that being concise is not easy. Something he deftly summed up when he said, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” In other words, getting to the point is not easy. But these days, it’s more essential than ever before.
Grab Attention Quickly
As a society, our attention span is getting shorter every year. The average attention span of a person in 2000 was 12 seconds; in 2015, it had gone down to 8.25 seconds. Keep in mind, that’s shorter than the 9-second attention span of a goldfish.
Now, it’s easy to say the title of this section, but much harder to do in practice. Everyone is screaming for attention. The clutter is as worse as it has ever been, and will only get worse. So, the only way to stand out is to be genuinely different. However, that’s not enough. You also have to be different with meaning. It has to relate to whatever you’re selling, or you’re back to the old “FREE SEX — Now we’ve got your attention, let’s talk about insurance.”
Once you have done almost the impossible and hooked a consumer, you have to keep them on the line. That means combining several strategies in this piece. Make every word count. Make the content relevant. Make it easy to scan, and absorb the main points. Make it easy for them to make the next move.
Stop Bombardment on Social Media
Enough is enough, and consumers are voting with their clicks. Facebook spits out promoted content regularly, and the reaction of 90 percent of people viewing it is to minimize it, or find ways to eliminate it altogether. As a consumer yourself, you should know this all too well. How many times have you seen an ad appear time after time on your social feed? So much, in fact, that you are taken from having no opinion on the brand, to absolutely hating it.
Now, advertising and marketing media buys used to concentrate on two main things — reach, and frequency. Reach is still vital, but frequency… that’s a much more complicated issue. If you hit people over the head with the same message over and over and over, and they are not responding, you’re doing damage to your brand.
But, if your message evolves, and finds ways to enhance the consumer’s life in some way (be it comedy, information, music, entertainment, or advice) then your frequency will be welcomed, and will start to work. You have the chance to do this with your brand’s own social pages, as well as newsletters and websites that are constantly updated with relevant content. Be smart about frequency, and it will pay off.
Take Advantage of Personalization
You may well have used personalization in the past, but not to the extent with which it is now being offered. When direct mail first started to use personalization, it was crude and unconvincing. “Dear Mr. Smith,” or the more conversational “Hi John” openings didn’t convince anyone. This was clearly a plug-and-play letter, and the meat of the content was about as personal and inviting as a used car salesman’s pitch.
Times have changed. The Internet, combined with other date collection methods, mean businesses now have access to a massive amount of information about individual consumers. It’s not just a name, address, and phone number, but favorite holiday spots, make of car, most visited websites, and even brand of underwear. The data mine is enormous. If you use it wisely, you can tee up messages that really connect with consumers in a way they never thought possible. There is, of course, a fine line between knowing them well, and too well. If the consumer feels like their privacy has been invaded, you go from being in touch with their needs, to downright intrusive. So, make sure your personalized campaigns don’t get so personal they feel violated.
Consider Augmented Reality
If you don’t already know about it, augmented reality is a fast-growing part of the advertising, marketing, and PR mix. In a nutshell, this tactic superimposes a CGI world over the real world, through the use of modern technology in smartphones, tablets, and other devices. The Pokemon GO phenomenon brought augmented reality to the mainstream last year, and it is only going to get bigger.
How can you use it? Well, there are so many ways to dive in. For instance, if you’re marketing a chain of coffee shops, you can superimpose their locations on a live street view taken through a phone’s camera. You could create virtual treasure hunts, or reveal hidden messages in billboards, websites, and magazines. In fact, if you can think of a way to bring an impossible world to life, you can probably do it with AR. The one drawback is that the user has to download an app to experience it, and that can be a big barrier to entry. Just make sure your content it worth the installation.
That’s the outlook for 2018, based on the last few months of 2016, and the first two months of the year. Jump on these trends now, before they go off the boil.