Have we lost sight of creativity in advertising?

 

As practitioners of a creative craft, what are we trying to accomplish?

As practitioners of a creative craft, what are we trying to accomplish?

Is the constant drumbeat from ad technology firms overshadowing the importance of creativity?

For those of us left in the advertising business, it seems that every message we receive has something to do with ad technology and its unlimited possibilities for making advertising more effective.

We, as agency creatives (if that is still even a relevant term), are overwhelmed with digital platforms. From programmatic media buying, to optimization, to first and third person data, it appears that ad technology has become the means to the end.

As practitioners of a creative craft, what are we trying to accomplish? Once, our primary job was to inform and entice people to purchase our client’s products and services. This usually required the talents of humans that could string together words, pictures, thoughts and emotions into a memorable experience executed across different mediums.

To accomplish this, a deep understanding of human psychology, communication and interaction was required, intertwined with a point of view. The message could be perceived as funny, clever, sarcastic, and informative, a hard sell, or any one of hundreds of different tones and styles of human communication.

Ad technology is nothing more than a delivery mechanism

Ad technology providers would lead you to believe that the message is secondary to the channel from which it is delivered.

With all the streaming bits and bytes of data swirling around our sensory receptors, it is no wonder that the “human” part of us has learned in a relatively short time to tune out internet advertising.

The reason for this is that the message has been compromised by the delivery mechanism.

The religion of ad technology practiced by the providers of ad networks, mobile apps, and behavioral retargeting wants us to believe that the scripture of analytics trumps creativity and with enough retargeting, our resistance will ebb and we will succumb to the purchase of a product we don’t want or need.

The reality is that we have already learned to block out such annoyances that appear on our screens as we read the opinion page of the New York Times or catch up the on final quarter of the game we slept through last night.

John Wanamaker in 1898 was correct that half of the money spent on advertising is wasted. The trouble is knowing which half. I’d make the case that this still holds true today, considering half of digital advertising cascading across the internet is never seen by a human being.

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Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.
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Airlines Embrace Mobile Marketing

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are experimenting with mobile marketing strategies to engage and connect with their customer base.

The State of Airline Marketing 2014 report published by SimpliFlying and airlinetrends.com identifies seven trends that airlines are exploring to increase brand preference and customer engagement. It’s not surprising that the tactical execution of these trends rely heavily on the connectivity of mobile marketing using social media networks and mobile devices (smart phones & tablets) combined with promotion. Some of the trends mentioned have merit. Others could be considered annoying in a confined space. One thing for sure is that airlines are beginning to understand the connected traveler and are looking for innovative ways to create brand loyalty.

7 airline marketing trends in 2014

1. Micro events – Organized onboard events, ranging from mid-air fashion shows to golf putting challenges and product giveaways. Airlines leading the way include Virgin America, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Air New Zealand. Check out the Air New Zealand putting challenge event video.

2. Cool tech – Airlines that embrace their inner geek are sponsoring hackathons to dream up new travel apps for your mobile devices. Emirates Airline sponsored a 24-hour travel hackathon and is forming a technology and creative community to keep up with mobile marketing technologies and to co-create travel apps.

3. Visual culture – Tapping into the ability of our mobile devices to capture, enhance, and share visual content on social media channels, airlines are encouraging the ultimate “selfie.” Turkish Airlines YouTube channel racked up over 135 million views in a single month for their “Kobe vs Messi Selfie Shootout” video.

4. People Power – Airlines are attracted to the size and power of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Several have offered special rates on airfares outside of traditional distribution venues on platforms like Groupon. This is a form of “Crowd Clout,” where airlines have the ability to create customer frenzies with the offer of deep discounts and viral sharing using mobile devices.

5. Emerging markets – Creating travel stories using emotional connections, airlines are promoting destinations and international travel to and from emerging countries. These include the “BRIC”s (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the “Next-11” (including South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico). British Airways is promoting their North American flights to India with “A Mother’s Wish” web posting.

6. Innovation is the marketing – This is a low cost entry approach into product and service marketing. Examples include wireless chargers found in customer lounges, RFID tags that let you track your luggage, and “meet and seat” experiments that let you check out your seat mates’ social profile before selecting a seat.

7. Outdoor creativity – Unconventional advertising in the form of digital billboards, kiosks, and point of sale floor graphics. British Airways #lookup billboard in Piccadilly Circus was wired to detect BA flights flying below the clouds and would display the flight number and destination along with a URL flight booking and price.

To register to download the full report, click here

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

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How emerging technologies will impact the differentiated brand.

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The challenges of “Big Data”

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution

Big Data is a tool and should be used as a means to an end

“Big Data” is a misleading term. It’s not a technology, but rather involves using data to gain insight. Big Data helps you visualize structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. This visualization of combined data provides a multi-dimensional view of the ecosystem your product or service resides in.

Types of data

Structured data, also known as Business Intelligence (BI), is transactional data.  Examples include addresses, SIC codes, point-of- sale data, customer resource management data, phone numbers, emails, loyalty card use, and energy consumption data. Data of this nature can be accessed and viewed in Excel spreadsheets.

Semi-structured data consists of web server click stream data, such ad web logs, IP addresses, page visits, time on page, cookie tracking, geo-usage patterns, customer behavior while on site, and the development of user profiles. The primary characteristic of this type of data is that it does not lend itself to display in rows, columns, or text.

Unstructured data is the content of documents, natural language, Tweets, Likes, comments, blogs, phone calls, emails, audio files, and images. These are the elements of human communication recognized as content but completely foreign to machine language.

How to use the data “Big Data” provides

From a marketing perspective, Big Data can be viewed as three segments:

1. Big Data when viewed properly can provide better insight

This was once the domain of a “gut feel.” Now when combining the three aforementioned data types, a panoramic view can be created of the acceptance and use of the product or service.

2. Better insight helps in making better business decisions

All of this data crunching provides a granular to global view of the acceptance of your product or service offering.  It is in this context that better business decisions can be made with regards to where to geographically expand, identify the most desirable product features and attributes, and which marketing efforts are delivering the anticipated results.

3. Better business decisions lead to better creative solutions

Big Data, when represented properly, can complement a creative brief by acting as a wall of information that can be prioritized, moved, and reconfigured for actionable items and measured for results.

“Big Data” challenges

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution, extend the brand engagement, and think beyond the current place in time that the visualization represents.

In addition, be aware that small brands may find the results disappointing because of an insufficient amount of semi-structured and unstructured data that is available.

And finally, management has to be committed to Big Data by providing resources and direction. Big Data offers marketing accountability, but it is incumbent on management to decide the following:

  • What to measure
  • What data has the highest priority to aid in business decisions
  • Where to invest resource and capital
  • What to do with the data – how does it shape the business outcome

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big brother and marketing ROI

Big data and creativity

How to build a connected brand

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Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

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Too much digital messaging drives us to distraction

Everyday the pipeline of digital messaging is expanding. And because of this, our ability to take in, absorb and comprehend is becoming less and less.

E-mail, text, social network advertising, CRM software, and websites are increasingly shouting to be heard above a sea of keyword flotsam and search terms.

What can marketers do to improve their digital messaging?

Simplify your message

Clarity of thought drives consistent messaging. Formulate your value proposition and concentrate on what you do well. If the reader has to think too much, odds are you will lose their attention. One test for simplifying your messaging – have a teenager read your website home page, then ask them what your company does.

Design for humans, not for bots and crawlers

Some web analysts claim that up to 65% of web traffic are bots and crawlers reporting back to search engines. That leaves 35% for human consumption. Humans are drawn to good design and content that connects on an emotional level. Highly visual websites that use strong imagery can convey more emotional connection than text-heavy analytical sites.

Understand your customer’s decision-making process

Arrange content in a natural flow that identifies customers’ concerns and problems, allowing customers to contemplate your solution through a linear progression of small steps. Using this approach builds customer confidence in your solution and reinforces their decision that your approach is best. Provide case studies, user reviews, and technical literature along the way as needed to confirm their decision. Consider providing a redeemable coupon to enhance the purchasing experience.

Build the relationship

There has to be a human connection to sustain a relationship. If not, then the purchasing decision is relegated to the lowest price to achieve the desired results. Improve brand consideration by communicating the brand story through thoughts and actions that resonate with the customer. Influence the purchasing decision by aligning with causes that benefit the industry as a whole.

The purchasing decision is a series of small steps, so make the steps easy and communicate in real terms, not industry jargon. Remember that no one wants to be sold to. The only one that receives any emotional benefit from that approach is the seller. Instead, assume the role of trusted advisor or consultant, enabling the purchaser to make their own decision based on the features, benefits, and solution that best fulfills their needs.

Simplifying your digital messaging and appealing to customers’ emotional needs is a sure cure for their “E-fluenza,” replacing their confusion with your solution.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Social media content strategy

RESPECT the customer

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Humans respond to creativity. We are attracted to design, color, shape, and imagination.

Creativity and experience matter more than ever.

Daily we are subjected to a constant barrage of marketing messages. From text messages for discounts from our favorite yogurt establishment, to emails from strangers, to online advertising featuring talking Geckos backed by Berkshire Hathaway’s unlimited media budget. It seems that there are neither limits nor boundaries that marketers will not exceed to try to get our attention.

Because we carry the internet in our pocket, we are at risk of information overload. Already we have short attention spans and our tempers are getting even shorter.

That is precisely why creativity and experience matter more now than ever.

Humans respond to creativity. We are attracted to design, color, shape, and imagination. We want to associate with experiences. And that is the essence of great advertising and marketing.  Corporations and their brands spend billions of dollars every year trying to gain a foothold in our consciousness, hedging their bet that when we “need” something, we will select their brand over the competition.

Algorithms can be creative but they can’t replace creativity.

It seems in the digital universe of search, some have decided that efficiency and scale are all that matters. The selling of keyword search terms have turned search engines into the largest advertising agencies on the planet. Forgoing strategy and concept for the sake of efficiency, thousands of small brands compete for customers through paid links, hoping that the phone rings. Unfortunately, the only brand differentiation for paid links is the price you pay for the search term.

Digital is disruptive, but it’s also disposable.

Hindsight tells us that digital advertising and marketing has been a disruptive force to traditional media and advertising channels. Yes, it has taken its toll on newspapers and magazine subscriptions and advertising revenue. Digital channels are more efficient, use fewer natural resources, and are capable of getting to market faster.  Nevertheless, for all of its efficiency, digital content is disposable. No one collects digital pages or ads because they were moved to action by the photographer’s skills in capturing the emotion of the moment, the art director’s sense of design in bringing the images and copy together, or the copywriter’s nuance for tone and style.

Are you experienced?

Navigating the waters of traditional and digital marketing is a balancing act. Follow the digital evangelist too far and you can slowly drown in a maze of platforms and data. Follow the traditionalist for too long and your brand becomes stodgy, or worse, irrelevant in a connected world.

As we survey the current state of advertising and marketing, we need to remember that what we have before us is a product of our own making.  Great brands understand the need for innovation and are not afraid to try new strategies and tools, but they also remember the creativity, experience, and imagination that helped them get where they are today.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big data and creativity

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Big data and creativity

Creativity needs big data to define the landscape in which the brand operates

Creativity needs big data to define the landscape in which the brand operates

One provides tactical insight, the other the emotional glue

Big data is the buzzword of the day. The techno savvy number crunchers are heralding big data as an “end all, be all” for tracking RIO and determining which marketing initiatives to fund. I’m in agreement that big data, when properly interpreted, can provide customer insight as to the purchasing habits and the media channel that culminated the sale. No argument – this is valid tactical information and should be considered when planning marketing initiatives.

Big data has limitations

Big data interpretation is also influenced by what the interpreter wants from it. We all know numbers can be twisted to justify decisions based on the interpreter’s bias and ultimate goal.

Big data also presents a one-sided view of the transaction process. Yes, it can isolate the channel that the purchase was transacted through, but it cannot measure the cumulative effect of brand value and preference across all the marketing channels that led to the conversion.

Big data lacks soul

Dissecting any purchasing process has to take into account the emotional decision to consider the brand in the first place. This is where big data comes up short.

Purchasing decisions start by pinging an emotional need.  These emotions are what make us human and drive our wants, desires, and needs. Emotions are the glue that create an attachment to a brand and pique our curiosity to investigate features and benefits to justify the purchase.

Creativity needs big data and visa-versa

Big data is automated. It’s a logical path that turns creativity into a commodity. From automated ad purchasing programs to social media sentiment, tracking these algorithms can not detect sarcasm, joy, empathy or any of the other emotions we humans employ on a daily basis to communicate, cope, and justify our purchasing decisions.

There was once a time when creativity was celebrated. Good advertising built brands and created brand preference. It could sweep the nation with catch phrases and imprint the brand message in the minds of millions of potential customers.

Creativity needs big data to define the landscape in which the brand operates. Big data can help creative thinking by providing comparative analysis, insight into purchasing habits, and models of what not to do based on different scenarios.  Ultimately, this tactical execution may be big data’s greatest contribution to the creative process.

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