Future of Advertising

It is now universally accepted that our world is changing rapidly. Depending on which dimension of our world we examine, some of this change is for the better and some not so much. Almost fifteen years ago, my sister and I filed a patent, the essence of which was the notion that individuals would be more persuaded by a message that was contextualized for them.

Context, to those who are not familiar, is an understanding of the unique circumstances that affect the choices made by an individual when taking a decision. Needless to say this context is dynamic and changes over time.

Imagine for a minute that a brave entrepreneur, let’s call him Mr. Quantta created a solution that was able to understand the context of each individual. Imagine for a minute that the technological and other challenges have been addressed and the capacity to reach an individual with a highly persuasive message at the right time exists.

One of the biggest challenges that Mr. Quantta would face would be the ability to create the content necessary to target customers at an individual level. Historically, content used to target customers has  been created for hordes of people.   Based on the Institution one asks the horde of people could numbers could be in the millions. This means that a single creative, say an Amul advertisement, is used to universally target a 100 million people at a given point in time.

My friends in advertising tell me this requires an uncomplicated, easy to grasp message that cuts the clutter and can be appealing to a large audience. It has worked for many companies and will probably continue to do so to build a brand. The brand is the starting point of building trust with the customer and persuading the customer to include the brand  in the list of options from which the customer  will choose. There are many options and therefore this is an uphill task  in itself.

Once your brand become part of  their consideration set, the next challenge is to persuade the customer to choose you over others. This requires you to ensure that you don’t have two left feet and can dance the dance. What can help is a deep understanding of the customer, his or her context, and then the ability to create highly personalized messages that are context relevant and persuasive. This is easier said than done. The content creating world   is used to filtering content such that  a single message stands out, one that  can appeal to the masses. This is how the advertising world has worked so far as the old age mediums of advertisement  that were available, namely billboards, radio ads, etc.,  were by nature mass mediums.

In our new age world, we can  create millions of personalized messages that are tailored to each individual. We are not talking merely about getting the individual’s name and salutation correct, God knows that each day people get messages that don’t even spell their name correctly. We are talking about creating a message that invokes an appropriate response in each of the millions of people we are targeting. The content creating world is waking up to the challenge only now!

Mr. Quantta is however undeterred and calls upon the best minds to address this problem. He is told that the universal principles will remain the same, which is that the brand must represent simple values that resonate with the target audience. The broad psychological triggers will  still rely heavily on aspiration, need, gratification, and the like. The question that remains is how do you create linkages between what you know of your market and target customers at micro market or individual levels such that it allows you to create the content necessary to target  a person at a time. Machine learning can help and so can running multiple pilots that allow you test various hypotheses on the message and response which can then be applied to larger groups of people. From what I hear last, Mr. Quantta is trying to persuade his friends in advertising to create the capacity to generate micro messages. He has promised them his unrelenting, total, and complete support!

Fancy Tata Tea reaching out to you with a message “Green tea, freshly brewed, mild flavor, …… “

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