In traditional marketing and public relations you would understand each potential customer to be oriented in a time and place. They may be in position to see a billboard, or watching television at primetime to view a particular advert.
You might target them through magazines, or newspapers.
All of these tactics have one thing in common: your audience is where you’d expect them to be at a certain time and this helps to maximize the return on investment.
Companies, notably Google and Meta, have scrambled to profit from a new ad economy where people can be reached at any time, anywhere as they use their phones as a portal to the entirety of their digital experience.
But… There is a Potential Bubble
Tim Hwang, author of the book Subprime Attention Crisis, equates current ad economy conditions to the 2008 financial housing crisis.
While Google and Meta lead the way in presenting ads to hyper-focused target groups for clients, there is an inherent unreliability of advertising numbers along with the simple fact that online ads mostly fail to work, Hwang writes.
Conventional wisdom for digital marketers has for a long time been rooted in using online advertising through such platforms. And they can work. But capturing the attention of consumers seems to increasingly require a more nuanced approach.
Google and Meta ads are not as powerful as they look, if we are to believe there is a bubble.
Feeding Digital Identities
Companies seeking to build an online presence know their target consumers are everywhere in the digital space. People are playing mobile games, scrolling social media and watching, reading or listening to content creators on a range of platforms.
The conundrum is how to reach these consumers at a moment where they might be persuaded to find out more or even make a purchase.
Every single person has the opportunity to curate their own experience of the digital world and this feeds into their unique identity. Philosophically speaking, we are accelerating the path to a world where humans are almost part-cyborg due to the significant investment in our digital profiles.
Here it is vital to understand how people consume information in digital spaces and work out ways to grab their attention. You might not succeed with ad platforms, but a robust email marketing plan and guerilla methods along with thought leadership can work wonders.
What Sources do People Trust?
Most of what can be done to resolve this crisis of consumer attention comes down to the level of trust in the communications people are seeing. Social media adverts are decidedly low on the conversion scale: people are not in the mood to click through necessarily and beyond that, the quality of ads on these platforms can be poor and they are less likely to be taken seriously.
Despite being dramatically underfunded since the advent of Meta and Google ad platforms, which by the way took 74% of global digital ad spending last year, traditional and new media outlets alike are bastions of quality, reliable information.
Establishing thought leadership for a figurehead of a company shows they have the knowledge, foresight and, crucially, the trustworthiness required for a consumer to make an informed purchase.
Almost anyone can purchase an advertising campaign on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. Being a published author of articles in the media sets a project apart: 57% of surveyed buyers say they think that thought leadership builds awareness for a new or little-known brand.
In a world where consumers are fully embracing the digital aspects of their lives, it is better to be seen to deliver valuable content to their feeds rather than bombard them with ads.
This builds trust, which in digital spaces can be a vital aspect of the customer journey.