2012-07-23, Nerijus Celkonas

Where the hell are the consumers?

If this question had one answer, all marketing specialists would lose their jobs. Press, radio and TV were the only mediums between businesses and consumers for years. Press moves online, radio is losing its audience to IPod (thanks to Steve Jobs once more) and only TV is the last unmoved titan left in the advertising business.  Online context ads definitely took a huge bite of the pie (Google and others). Online ads are so popular, ‘cause you only pay by the fact and it can be easily measured – contrary to TV advertising. Newcomers such as social media stormed in as a tornado and took its place besides TV ads. Then there’re the undiscovered possibilities of the mobile marketing. Is it a threat or a challenge to TV, or is it simply another media channel?

One thing is clear – things will definitely change and it will never be the same. Youngsters are future consumers and they define new consumption standards. One day I watched kids going home from school and thought to myself “What the hell is happening?”: about a dozen kids were going one behind another with their noses stuck into their smart phones, texting or so. They looked like an army of clones. I thought “How in the world do they find their way home?”

Advertising can be grouped into context and direct advertising

Context advertising is the traditional advertising focused on brands. It doesn‘t matter which medium is chosen – TV, press or online banners – the ad is designed to say „I AM, WANT ME“. Probably the best examples would be the Marlboro cowboy or Harley Davidson.

Direct advertising is personalized marketing with a goal to reach particular consumers. It says „BUY ME“. Google adwords, emails, direct sales – all are achievements of XXI century.

Personalized ad that reaches its target without additional expenses is the dream of every marketing specialist. But would we be able to do so without outside support (context advertising is popularization of the brand)? Even if there was an ideal world where media users get only direct advertising created especially for them, what would happen with introduction of new goods and services into the market? Will context advertising become a relic of marketing history books? Also what would the multi-billion advertising industry do if context advertising would suddenly go extinct? You’d lose a business where invoices are written to your clients without much worrying about reports – everything goes smoothly and without any actual commitment, because the reach of such advertising is very hard to be measured exactly. Meanwhile, direct advertising (for ex., Google adwords PPC) can be measured to the last cent. So it’s not surprising that it became so popular, customers want to know exactly what they’re paying for.

In other words, context advertising is a one-way street and direct advertising – a two-way highway. It’s not only the measurement of customer behavior that’s so attractive, it’s also the intuitive possibilities to actually take the consumer by the hand, lead him to your product and actually make him/her buy it (e-commerce is an example of this). Meanwhile, TV advertising benefits can only be measured according to sales reports (or call-to-action URL trace) – is there and increase or not.

Basing advertising campaigns on our consumers, we can group them into two target groups: new users and brand switchers. As you probably already understood, context advertising is oriented towards new users, when direct marketing – to buyers of a particular category.

Marketing is moving towards one direction only – direct personalized advertising, because the one that pays the money, orders the music; and businesses very much want to know where their millions are spent.

So back to the questions – where the hell are the consumers?

Of course, the biggest part is made up of mobile phones (6 billion users), emails (3 billion registered accounts), social media (Facebook and Twitter combined has 1 billion registered accounts). TV is at the 4th place with 500 millions of households, poor radio and press companies, unfortunately, can no longer enjoy such impressive statistics. 

From the examples we can see that 90% of the world‘s population can be reached via mobile phones. And what do marketing strategists think of this? Basically nothing at the moment. Still checking proof of Facebook ads. Various subtle ways on how to reach consumers are being tested with the addition of the good-old context advertising. 

Email advertising (SPAM) is now disarmed by SPAM filters, social media can’t be approved by ROI, TV advertising is working, but can’t be measured exactly.

So the greatest question is: will there be a platform created which will allow personal reach of your consumers and will the consumer want to receive advertising intended for him/her only? Maybe you’re thinking about this at the moment? Isn’t this a challenge worth the XXI century? 

Author Nerijus Celkonas, CEO Qwekee.com

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Latest comments (1)

on 10/8/12
It\'s happening http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/marketing_is_dead.html