The Future of Advertising is Real Time Information (not real time interruption)

I believe that the future of advertising is in providing real time information instead of real time interruption. This is the future of advertising, or what we call marketing 2.0.

I believe that real time interruption is how advertising has worked for the past 30 years. When I say “worked” I mean it worked for both the advertiser and the advertisee. Most were happy – until now.

Real time information is how advertising will work (and is working) for the next generation. We have been brought up on the idea of instant gratification and having information available to use 24×7 at our fingertips. It is no surprise that advertising is now more precise and targeted to our needs – this is a direct correlation to how we consume information in general today.

The difference between the two is a generic 30 second television spot that appears between segments of your favorite prime time show and a search query performed at 3:00am when you are looking to find some information.

Why wont the old way work anymore?

Lets look at this a bit further. When you are watching (consuming) your favorite show in primetime (assuming you are not time and or place shifting with Tivo or a Slingbox) then you can expect interruption marketing to happen (commercials) which display ads that the network hopes are relevant to you. At any given point throughout these commercials you may be 100% in the target zone of a customer, or completely not a target customer but must sit through the ad anyway.

If you are not on the market for a new housemortgageloan or other financial product from a lending institution then chances are an ad for Lending Tree will be lost on you. Now there may be some collateral benefit in branding – but certainly not the generation of a prospect or even a customer.

I believe that this is money wasted. Wasted production dollars, marketing dollars, distribution dollars, etc.. You are not the target demographic, you are not a potential customer, and the ad will do nothing to provide a service or opportunity to act upon.

In the exact opposite scenario of what I am calling the future of all advertising, real time information, if I do a search for a specific keyword or phrase within a search engine that pertains to a housemortageloan or other financial product then I am clearly showing intent to collect more information. For this reason we can make certain assumptions about the words or phrases entered:

1. I am looking for more information about these terms
2. I may not know the definition of one or more of the terms
3. I have turned to a trusted source (the search engine) to show me its most relevant findings pertaining to my query

This is where the real time information of advertisers comes in. By paying for an ad (buying the keywords or phrases typed into the engine by the user) to show up I am hoping to show the user a message that will provide the information they are looking for and lead them onto my site to solve their problem. Now sometimes search ads are used for branding as well, but most of the time they are used to solve a customer problem by providing a service or product for sale at the landing page you are delivered to with your click.

In a world where optimization is not only needed but expected, every display of my ad and subsequent click results in a search engine learning about the relevance of showing it to each user. Engines such as Google and Yahoo use this information to help the user experience and provide the most real time and relevant information possible.

As companies learn that their dollars can be better spent placing their ads in front of people with questions, and understanding that their ad can actually answer these questions, the true shift in advertising dollars will occur. I know we have written about the fall of the television upfront and changes to advertising many times (1, 2, 3, 4) but now the knowledge exists to make these changes possible.

People do not want to be interrupted by irrelevant advertising. IF they must sit through ads at all it is clear that a relevant ad will perform much better.

What to do:

Think about where you are spending your advertising dollars. Look at the glossy printout of your “marketing mix” pie chart and look at each percentage.

Now re-calculate each percentage to show which parts of the mix are spent on interruption advertising and which parts are spent on real time information advertising. Is your goal to interrupt or to inform?

As consumers spend less time with each medium and have more information available to them at their fingertips the old ways of advertising will change with or without you. To those that have already embraced this change I commend you and hope to hear from you soon. To those who are not sure how to make the first step I welcome your comments or emails private or public.

I have written the above as a guide of what is coming. Dont change for the sake of change, do the research and understand why, then look at the results in next quarters returns.

[tags] google, yahoo, marketing change, television upfront, marketing.fm, advertising, online advertising, interruption marketing, real time information, marketing 2.0 [/tags]