The next evolution in digital marketing is fast approaching—a new frontier if you will. We see glimpses of it already in augmented and virtual reality, and in the steady advances in 3D technology. Many marketers look toward this pending iteration with curiosity, excitement—and some with trepidation.The digital revolution is hardly past its fledging and growing stages, but the more we progress, the less practical traditional advertising becomes.
Look at the exponential advancement of advertising, especially post Web 2.0. Marketers in the 1970s generally optimized creative for print, radio, and TV. Creative for broadcasting and print was fairly free-form. Audiences had little choice but to view content. But nowadays creative ads simply aren’t enough; marketers must work to not only catch the attention of an audience but also engage listeners, viewers and readers who are increasingly distracted, niched, and on the go.
Today’s customer can bounce freely between devices, each gadget offering a variety of digital experiences through apps and other software-based instances. And the Internet—where many create, populate, and share their own corners of the Web—empowers people to receive messages on their own terms. Marketers are racing for customers’ attention, as they have been since the dawn digital media. With the next phase of digital evolution always around the corner, marketers can’t afford to slow down, especially when trying to connect with millennials, such as myself.
Some of the most effective brands seem to focus on offering simple, everyday services—or utilities—rather than serving up ads. Take, for example, Google, more specifically the company’s Google Now software, an intelligent personal assistant from the tech giant. Google Now functions as something of a substitute mobile operating system. Users can launch apps, write texts, make calls, and search the Web. Though there’s plenty of utility in these features, Google Now’s main draw is its advanced aggregation algorithm and interface. In other words, the service continually pushes me content that’s not only relevant to my interests, but useful as well.
Amazon has a similar feature woven into its shopping interface. While making a purchase, Amazon serves up a bevy of products through a related items tab. Of course, nearly every e-commerce service cross-sells products related to your recent purchases. The spark in Amazon’s take on this popular feature is the nature of the “related” aspect. Based on my own search and shopping history, Amazon will cross-sell me an X-Men Blu-ray after I’ve purchased a smartphone case. A number of other brands execute this hyper-relevance concept as well, but for whatever reason, not every marketing team has adopted this practice.
Sure, many marketers are prioritizing relevance in their marketing strategy; customers haven’t really left them much choice. However, far too many of these marketers stop at customers’ first or last name. Shoppers need more. Daily interaction with giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google has groomed us to demand more. As these disruptive companies continue to evolve, marketers can improve their chances at connecting with customers through content marketing, smart retargeting, and better overall use of data.