Friday, April 18th, 2014

Consumers are becoming so overwhelmed with information that they are no longer absorbing corporate advertising. They are turning off in droves.

A story in advertising trade magazine AdNews discussed the convergence of search and social media. Oracle CRM exec Michel Van Woudenberg told AdNews that "Agencies and in-house marketing teams will increasingly bring search and social under one roof in a bid to bridge the gap between paid and organic media."

Michel said the only answer would be to "automate the mundane" to free our minds for strategic thinking. Emanuel Freer from marketing agency Mpire Creative demonstrated in Why Brands Fail to Engage with Millennials how tough things are for anyone trying to reach this audience of social media natives.  But I'd argue that the same is true for any age group. The key question is "are they immersed in social media?"

“Brands need to stop doing the tell-sell,” says  Emmanuel Freer. “Jamming self interested advertising down their throats [won't work]. Gen Y have so much going on that they just aren’t listening. There is too much noise.”

This is certainly a new communication race under way, and communication professionals are running as hard and fast as they can to catch up.  They are  seeking new ways to reach their audiences through entertainment, music, humour and even tragedy.  (Unfortunately, the requirement to merge 'search and social' has created a new beast -- "irresistible" linkbait headlines like "23 Totally Absurd Confessions About Food Delivery".)

AdNews and many other experts such as my third example, Richard Edelman in an Australian Financial Review article, say that it has become critical for marketers and their agencies "to do more with less, faster".  "It will be a business far less about classic media management than helping blue chip clients to disseminate their own content through creative newsrooms," Richard told the Fin.

To leverage the 8-second attention span, there is now a technology under development that will take Google ads and turn them into social content tailored to the audience on the fly.  But will this increase community engagement, as advocated by Emnnuel Freer?

Or will it be too obvious to today's more sophisticated consumer with their built-in bs radar? We agree with all of three viewpoints - the need for true engagement and brilliant creative, with automation of what can be automated without losing the human element. Google and Facebook have made one thing clear - people are not robots.  They are sentient creatures - they will not react to reams of SEO drivel.  They quickly filter to what they want or switch off altogether.

So, never talk down to or underestimate your audience, talk as you would if they were right there in your office.  "Your audience" means the people that would be genuinely interested in your product or service.  It doesn't mean "everybody".  That's last century thinking.

Focus on keeping your audience interested and you will succeed.

*The author of this blog, Leila Henderson, is the CEO of NewsMaker and State President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

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