Like any fast-paced industry, advertising in the digital age is facing relentless challenge.
Consumers today are the arbiters on products, services, brands and experiences and are perpetually holding businesses to account. In this digital world our sphere of influence is not only broader, it’s global. We are in reality judged by our actions and those of the company we keep. That is a big call and one that should keep us all on our toes. So for marketers and business leaders it’s not about doing more good than bad, actions will only count if you’re doing this with other good people, services or brands.
We also know that brands do not have to be on a television screen to have impact anymore. The power is no longer the exclusive domain of mass media channels. Developments in digital marketing mean gone are the days of hit them often, for as long as possible in the one dimensional world of mass marketing. Fragmentation of the market, segmentation of audiences and with that, differences in how people consume advertising, mean brands no longer universally or exclusively choose to target a mass audience.
In this changed reality we must accept that collaboration is now a hygiene measure to good brand health. By acknowledging that strategic partnerships carry this onerous weight for brands it becomes critical that collaboration is a managed strategy as opposed to an accident of circumstance. The former creates a powerful reinforcement for the consumer based on genuine association, the latter could create a whole world of pain. While brand collaboration can be played out in the mass media, it is equally and increasingly targeted communications like your favourite cooking channel, right through to a personalised message on your Facebook page that resonate.
No matter what size, age or sector, companies are rapidly learning that there is nowhere to hide as the world of advertising moves across the spectrum of mass through to targeted and ultimately personalised communications. At every step we are dealing with how people perceive the brand and how the brands we associate with can positively impact that. So it makes sense that where we are able to know exactly who wants to see, buy, hear from us, we want to speak to them directly because we know it will deliver the greatest traction to build customers and increase revenue.
Collaboration is another media example of part science, part art and it has a profitable formula. A positive partnership will materially enhance your ROI through the clever sharing of assets and channels to tell your story to exactly the right people and in precisely the right way. Something we call the Economics of Sharing.
The trajectory of relevance and advertising trends over time are clear as we see changes in technology shape and develop in line with what marketers and the advertising industry can and will do next. The incidence of mass advertising will continue to reduce in the interest of more targeted communication. We have access to data and the continuous learning through the application of that data that will enable us to be increasingly smart at identifying and addressing niche segments and then down to individuals.
In this world of positive collaboration businesses are engaging with those individuals by tapping into their passions with the shared and complementary voices of other brands. When this is done well, we move beyond a one-sided advertising message and into the world of engagement where we are able to genuinely respond to consumer wants and needs. It is action over words. The new world of real-time communication and personalisation is a big challenge and one that will always be more powerful when managed as more than one brand. The power and relevancy of modern and enduring brands will be in their ability to find the right brand partner to work with and in doing so, make the engagement for their customer more relevant and more valuable.
Every development in the history of advertising has been aimed at getting closer to the consumer and what they want. The move from mass to real-time advertising continues that ambition. We’ve moved from “us” to “me” in an era of what an individual would value and it’s not things, it’s experiences. Doing this justice means collaboration with other like-minded brands that can help make these elements real. Unlocking those 'me' passions is when you are mining gold and you can anticipate positive returns. Collaboration can be seen as a virtual reinvention of your advertising programme and can give a brand endless opportunities to discover and develop campaigns that better understand and anticipate consumers’ habits and passions.
No one has all the answers. No brand can genuinely say they can do it all. The brand that happily looks to other great brands to help create something better for their customers are the brands that will thrive in the future.
Tamara Gillan is chief executive officer and founder at partnership marketing agency Cherry London