Last week I participated in a lively discussion over on the Forrester blog about digital content. Mark Mulligan had a post up about product innovation in the music industry and made the point that many of the fundamental challenges and solutions they were looking at applied far beyond the music business to all kinds of content producers. There was something that Mark said in response to one of my comments which was interesting:
I'm reminded about something David Hepworth (founder of The Word) wrote once about how on-demand, the i-player and changing music consumption meant that content distributors could no longer dictate the pace at which the market moved:
"There's something vaguely pathetic about the average pre-release PR announcement nowadays, as if the person who typed it still lived in the world where everything seemed to stop on the day that their particular product 'dropped'. This doesn't happen anymore. Products slip noiselessly into an ever-swelling stream rather than dropping like a pebble in a serenely still lake."
I think there's an interesting parallel with advertising here. Conventional campaigning wisdom attempts to create just such speed bumps. Messaging is deployed at sufficient weight to guarantee reach to a large number of people in a short space of time (for TV, often at weights that mean that heavy TV viewers are likely to see the ad up to ten times – I'm not having a go at TV here, any medium deployed at that weight would be the same). Awareness decays until another burst kicks in. Speed bumps.
Yet as I've pointed out before, building relationships is not about speed bumps. Committing, as opposed to campaigning, doesn't have a beginning, middle and an end. You can't walk away from a conversation. It's not part time. The pace is not entirely yours. The schedule is not predictable. As Mike Arauz says:
"If you've put in the time and effort to show your fans that your listening, don't make the mistake of letting it all go to waste by going dark for 3 months while you get ready for your next big ad campaign."
The advertising process is still largely set up around discontinuous cycles. Yet your customers don't want interaction with your brand at your convenience, they want it at theirs. As advertising, in common with all forms of content, becomes increasingly socialised, it needs to work to a different set of rules. So isn't it time that the advertising process got a whole lot more agile?