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Is Technology saving Advertising?

Advertising as we know it is about to die.

This is great news, because it deserves an abrupt death. If you’ll excuse the sweeping generalisation and world-weary cynicism, it’s long been a soulless space that preys on the weak; a race to the bottom where marketers shamelessly and lazily try to trick consumers out of their cash.

Of course, there are many exceptions, but advertisers have traditionally gone for the low-hanging fruit. They pick an insipid message, make some lofty promises and spray it tastelessly across whichever channels they deem appropriate.

Unfortunately it’s proven to be a winning formula. But this is changing.

Technology Brings Choice
In a great irony, consumers (hereafter referred to as ‘good people’) are blessed with more choice than ever. So, forget those six delicious new flavours, if the delivery of that message isn’t compelling, nobody’s going to listen to it.

If I don’t like what I’m watching, that’s ok, it’s invariably on DVR. Think you’ll get me with that newspaper ad? I stopped reading those in 2013. And your irritating pop-up on my browser, I’m about to tweet my discontent. Sorry, but you lost me. And now you’re losing my followers.

In the past, we were forced into a degree of engagement with advertising. Our ability to block it out – or publically shame it – is more sophisticated now than ever.

Advertisers have to be better
So, the traditional channels aren’t performing like they used to. It turns out that good people aren’t idiots. How are we going to get their attention and tell them about this product that’s going to improve their lives?

You’re going to have to do a few things.

Firstly, choose effective channels. The phone and computer are a good place to start. Now, be more specific. Identify the good people that might be interested in what you’re selling. The internet is great like that. But your job is still far from done. You’ve got a ticket to the party, better make sure you wear something pretty.

If you want good people to pay attention, you need to entertain them, give them something of value or make a real difference. Admittedly, this should have been obvious regardless of technological advancements. But, better late than never.

Oh, also make sure your product is everything you say it is.

Finally, some accountability
Yes. Well, kind of. We’re moving from advertising-en-masse to a more niche model. Where you can reach precisely the audience you’re looking for. We’re entering an exciting new era, where good people are more demanding, more discerning, more powerful, and can hold advertisers to task. Expectations are higher and advertisers need to be on their game.

But, before we throw a party, let’s temper all this excitement with some realism. There are still some obvious concerns:

There will continue to be chancers, and channels prepared to give them a voice. There will continue to be spam and empty vessels in a sea of noise. Privacy is an issue, as is disinformation. Also: Russian Hackers.

We’re a long way from Utopia. But we’re getting to a place where legitimate brands are going to have to up their game considerably. They have to stop faking it and start actively demonstrating humanity. Effectively, they have to stop advertising and start actualising. If that means being more real, honest and interesting.

Technology will be the death of advertising as we know it. And this is great news for anyone who has the interests of consumers good people at heart.

About James Bisset
James Bisset is the Creative Director at Lima Bean Agency in Cape Town. He spends a lot of time convincing clients to tell real stories and celebrate their humanity. He loves cricket, hates T20 and doesn’t understand marketing buzzwords.

Article by James Bisset Executive Creative Director of Lima Bean

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