Digital Media Advertising

Follow the Bouncing Eyeballs

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

I was swiping through Flipboard on my Nexus 7 (okay, let me interpret for some of you. Flipboard is my news/blog aggregator application, that looks like an electronic magazine, running on an Android powered Nexus 7 tablet computer – a tablet other than the ubiquitous iPad) when an LA Times article caught my eye. The article spoke about how many small-town movie theaters are turning to their hometown patrons to raise the necessary funds to move to digital projection systems. They are being forced to go digital since the new movies are being distributed that way as opposed to by film. A couple of swipes later, I found another article stating that economists are predicting only modest growth in advertising for the balance of 2013. The convergence of these two articles along with the realization that I was reading the content on my electronic tablet (I have not received printed newspapers for many years) started me thinking about how we have to change our business paradigms. Hence the first two articles above and the present ruminations.

Many folks I see are trying to figure out how to “follow the bouncing eyeballs” for their advertising. Understanding that the eyeballs no longer see the usual advertisements is being lost on the advertisers. It’s more comfortable to take the baby step that says “oh, we don’t have to change how we advertise and sell our products, we only have to change where we put them.” It pushes the “problem” into the realm of tweaking an obsolete product or service and hoping that the target audience will somehow renew their commitment to and desire for the obsolete product. It’s not going to happen!

Instead, not only the content of advertising, but the whole concept of what it means to “follow the bouncing eyeballs” needs to change. Just as many companies are moving resources from sales to marketing, we must move from advertising (pushing for demand) to branding (making sure consumers will pull our information when they are ready to buy.) Just when everyone was getting excited about being able to use digital technology to discover and track the efficacy of our advertising budgets, we’re finding that the ads aren’t very efficacious at all. At least, not for the advertisers. Instead, we are learning that too much of a good thing has soured the consuming public. Combine that along with the trend to less consumption as a result of the last recession and we have a pretty dire picture when it comes to traditional advertising.

I view this as another instance of high-tech, high-touch reaching into our lives. Our defenses to all this pushing of products, services and political views on us has largely turned to ignoring it all. Okay, perhaps the political stuff may be ripe for consumption, but all the research indicates we don’t really seek out or listen to opposing views, we only pull information that corroborates our already formed opinions. So why advertise? We know we don’t convince others to buy our political ideas, so we are spending money to manipulate those already in our camp. And perhaps that makes my point. In order to pitch for a bigger tent, the political parties are changing the perception of their brand. That means a whole different content in the media.

Companies will have to change from advertising to branding if they want to grow their businesses. I know, I know — I’m a bit weird. I get that accusation all the time. Still, I don’t think I’m all that much different than the average person in the market these days. We’ve been and continue to be trained to ignore advertising by those SPAMing us with ads. Why? How? Why we ignore it is there is simply too damned much of it, everywhere. It’s massive overload. As to how – our brains are really good at filtering out extraneous information that is not important to our immediate survival. We’ve been doing that for eons. So what’s an enterprising organization to do? I think the answer is obvious, simple and very difficult to do. Stop Selling. Start Branding. Continue Adding Value. That simple. That difficult.