December 7th, 2015 By Tim Leighton
Yes, it’s true. We all got a wake up call when Ad Blockers hit the headlines in late 2015—whether we worked in digital advertising or not. Because what that controversy exposed was the fact that we forget respect for the consumer at our own peril.
Before the days of banner ads, take-overs, interstitials, and pop-ups, advertising had operated under a rarely articulated but important set of principles:
- There was a clear value exchange (you get to watch a great TV show for a couple of ad breaks)
- There were clear boundaries between the content you wanted and the marketing that funded it (ad breaks, not ads covering the top third of your programme)
- There were limits to how far the marketing could go (you weren’t tracked and hunted down wherever you went)
- It was often entertaining (let’s face it, there are some great ads out there)
- It could ultimately be ignored.
Digital advertising was breaking most of those rules. It had forgotten respect. The relationship had become abusive and toxic. So, as soon as they were handed the weapon, many consumers took the choice to eliminate it. And many more will continue to do so, as the technology becomes ever more sophisticated.
It’s all particularly disappointing because Digital should have been the poster child for a new marketing paradigm: seamless engagement, rich storytelling and fulfilling, hyper-relevant experiences; the ultimate dialogue marketing platform. Instead, it took marketing back to pre-Madison Avenue days.
But Digital is not alone in forgetting respect for the consumer. Another, much older channel which, arguably, offers many of the same potential benefits, has also consistently squandered the opportunity to engage a captive, hungry, and relevant audience. Enter the Trade Show. Enter a largely dysfunctional world in which each brand attempts to shout louder than the next.
Enter Ericsson, for whom trade shows and experiences are their number one marketing channel. Who decided that they weren’t going to play the same game. Who chose to tear up the rule book and create a little more conversation instead. And guess what? It turns out that creating wonderful conversations puts respect right back at the centre of the modern marketing mix.
To learn more, check out the deck I presented with Ericsson’s Cecilia Dahlstrom at the eurobest Festival of Creativity this year.