We have every right to be sceptical about marketing as a tool for manipulation. We know that in theory. What is interesting at the moment though is that people are still buying things directly from ads.
In the same places we access our entertainment and interests, we are seeing things specific to our needs. This has happened for years with endorsements, but our social media in particular is driving things right to us.
The algorithms that figure this stuff out are pretty good. If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be the type of auction system that changes based on evidence to get web advertising spaces.
An example of how good our systems are getting, is that it can be accurately predicted by social media (in some instances) that you will break-up before it happens. We face a lot of ethical questions in the future with this type of information. If your social media knew you were gay before you did, would you want to be told? In health we can see genetic predispositions, but could this destroy the way insurance works? You may not want to know what your social media knows about you, but somebody therefore does know.
I owe this example to Jaron Lanier.
Marketing though is having to change in our times. Top down information that made TV so successful is no longer effective. No amount of iPhone ads could make a skinny jeans wearer like myself by the iPhone6 after seeing the bend-test footage.
What new platforms are doing is tapping into our entertainment. Red Bull is a drink, but I can look to their content online for sport and music. There’s no Red Bull production line footage that I have come across, but a lot of documentaries about interesting people.
Instead of throwing ads into your feed, companies are experimenting with getting marketers to create entertainment. This is a type of permission marketing. Instead of throwing yourself at unexpecting people, people are now seeking out these brands.
Guy Kawasaki gives the example that he post 50 or more tweets a day. Some of those are repeats because he doesn’t expect everyone to be online at once or scroll back. His content is roughly 9/10 articles and information for interested to like minded people, at which time when 1/10 is about a product of his, people don’t mind. Content is the most important thing we seek, and mass marketing will struggle to keep up this way.
Contemporary marketing cannot simply be the gift wrapping, but has to be incorporated to make any product, service, or business, actually better. The marketer, as Seth Godin would put it, has to be able to touch the whole business now to be successful.
But as a marketer you cannot only get people to look at you. Traffic is useless without conversion to sales. So as you follow the latest cool entertainment, be aware that after a while you may just find something to spend your money on.