Huge old-fashioned marketing mess continues to wreak havoc in digital
It’s 2017, almost 2018, and just yesterday, when I wanted to read an article on my smartphone, a pop-up invaded the screen. As the site was not responsive, I had to fight hard to manage to press the small liberating cross and access my content.
Frankly, who has ever ordered a product or requested a service after being “polluted” by a pop-up window? Who, today, will buy such and such a product because they saw an advertisement before their YouTube video? Who besides looks until the end ads before a YouTube video?
In 2016, according to a study carried out by SRI / PwC, Internet advertising spending amounted to 3.475 billion euros. The same year, according to a survey by the CSA institute, 83% of French people declared themselves “irritated “ through online advertising.
I inevitably wonder if brands aren’t throwing money away. Is the marketing that is prevalent now more than a huge mess?
The day advertising turned into manipulation
There is something rotten in the realm of marketing. First, most people, including marketers, have a bad definition of it. They confuse “art of selling” with “cruelty”.
Marketing is simply:
it does not mean anything other than: prepare, wear and place on the market in such a way that one obtains maximum potential and maximum reward.
And then, one day, the mad men, the advertisers of the large Madison Avenue agencies, have entered the scene. And they turned marketing into manipulation. And almost everyone followed them.
In reality, the mad men have a spiritual father. His name is Edward Bernays. Nephew of Sigmund Freund in person, this American advertiser had the idea of using psychoanalysis to make money. How? ‘Or’ What?
- He used authority figures to make a brand credible: doctors and celebrities invaded advertising posters.
- He of course used the powerful lever of sex to sell. He notably used models for a campaign by the tobacco giant Lucky Strike.
- He also hijacked values to associate them with products. Also for Lucky Strike, he transformed cigarettes into “torches of freedom” during an Easter parade in New York in 1929. A stroke of genius, he passed the consumption of tobacco by women as a symbol of their emancipation!
Today, celebrities, sex and the use of values have become the essence of advertising.
Except… it doesn’t really work. In 1995, in an Ipsos poll on the French and advertising, 49% of those questioned already declared that according to them, advertising manipulates (against 30% who felt that it informs). In this same survey, 91% of those polled already felt that there was too much advertising on television.
The terrible truth is that at the time of the ad pages, as human beings have fled towards the toilet or the kitchen, the advertisers turn to empty sofas.
It’s a bit like in the movie Daisy, where Catherine Frot plays an aristocrat who gives concerts at home. She sings excruciatingly out of tune, but no one dares tell her. Advertising agencies are like Marguerite and keep pouring millions into spots that no one wants to watch …
We recycle the scam with big data
I know that there are experts who claim that with digital technology, we have gone into a whole new era. The proof, there are plenty of new anglicisms which show that it is not the same. We are talking UX design, Growth hacking, social media newsroom, blah blah blah. It’s a show!
Despite the promise of better targeting of people, thanks to big data, the deaf dialogue between advertising agencies and consumers continues. Because basically nothing has changed.
1 / We are still in interrupt marketing. Instead of the advertising page, Youtube takes you hostage by stalling the ads before viewing the video; Facebook slips the ad in the middle! Or, ad spots open right in the middle of the text you’re reading.
2 / With programmatic advertising, if we gain on the relevance of the ads, we still do not gain on the quality of the exchange. The data, collected by connected objects, is for brands as many additional opportunities to spam us. For example, we receive targeted ads based on our location.
3 / Far too many advertisements are still designed according to the same principle: they use celebrities or target low instincts in order to bypass the intellect. The goal is to trigger a kind of buying impulse.
And at the same time, as these bad practices persist (and comm agencies continue to make annoying ads), a new paradigm has emerged.
The real digital transformation of marketing
New marketing, and the future of advertising, is popping up here and there, but it’s still pretty minor. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, says great economic revolutions take 50 years. If he’s right, we’re not even halfway through our digital transformation.
What would customer experience-centric marketing be?
Well, it was inevitable that the force would spawn a being able to restore balance with the dark side, Edward Bernays. This being is Seth Godin.
Do I need to present it? An American entrepreneur who has had a string of business successes along with bestsellers, he is the father of permission marketing.
What’s this? It’s the exact opposite of interrupt marketing. It’s consumer-centric and relies on that basic politeness of asking permission first. It is based on the consent of the targeted person to be in contact with a brand. It gave rise to a set of variations / synonyms:
- content marketing
- inbound marketing
- benevolent marketing
- hospitality marketing
In this regard, I recommend listening to the podcast of Gregory Pouy with Georges Edouard Dias, “Swap aggressive marketing for hospitality”, which is rich in intelligent observations and ingenious proposals.
The basic idea is to give power back to the consumer (the famous empowerment) and makes him a consumer actor. It is to give before receiving. It is this inversion that consists for a brand to accept to become the target of the customer who was previously targeted.
Here we also find the native advertising, this advertising that blends into the background, which offers – one might say – seamless advertising experience. It’s always this idea of offering content before encouraging a purchase.
And what’s more, it’s cheaper! According to a Hubspot study, inbound marketing is 61% less expensive than outbound marketing solutions.
Furthermore, content creation is an investment that has no time limit; while you have to constantly launch new advertising campaigns.
Vision of the near future
What does the company of the future look like? Obviously, we could think of Boston dynamics robots, chatbots doped with artificial intelligence and other gadgets of the kind. But in terms of marketing, I think the future is already here and I would like to end this article by talking about a rather special company. It’s AdEspresso.
This is the company that manages 1% of all Facebook ads in the world. And yet, she has no sales team! It is only through the extremely rich content that it offers that it obtains all of its customers. In short, she does almost nothing other than offering (articles, video lessons, ebooks, newsletters, running a community…) without ever talking about herself. Or very little.
AdEspresso illustrates how to get an engaged audience at a ridiculous marketing cost compared to its competitors. To me, she embodies the vision of truly profitable marketing.
Mathias Savary is the Web Content and community manager of Videotelling, a communication agency specializing in video storytelling for e-learning, internal and external communication of companies.