Recently we held our first FLUX event here at Royals HQ. The panel provided a lively conversation covering the state of media and paid journalism, the role of disruption in the subscription TV market, how social enterprises determine success and which paths to take, how being a separate entity can allow for truly innovative thinking and even how the political narrative itself might be disrupted.
In the lead up to the event we had the opportunity to discuss what kind of commercial, sociological and technological forces were disrupting the communications industries. I think three significant patterns stand out, all of which should probably be further developed beyond the summaries below. One concerns consumption, another is about the canvas we use to conceive and create and the last is about how we go about things (and how we go about going about things).
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS ONLINE
A sociological shift that should be to forcing everyone in our industry to approach their work differently.
Many of the consumers audiences we deal with have never known a world without the internet. So they don’t have clear boundaries between being online and offline. Because even when they’re not looking at a screen or noticing an alert – they’re open to it. They’re available. They might be actively wondering if someone’s commented on their post or emailed them back. Or they might simply be unconsciously semi-aware of something that might happen. One of the reasons this has happened is that the internet has created a ‘persistence other world’ something that keeps going when you’re not experiencing it.
So perhaps Gen-Y’ers, Millennials and probably many of the rest of us, have developed a kind of sentience or low level awareness – even ‘partial participation’ state. We’re not online or offline. Those terms don’t make sense. This might sound all philosophical.. but these notions of channels that have boundaries and the terminology and understanding associated with it, shifts the way we as an industry approach media spend and coming up with ideas. Are we doing a digital campaign? or a digital idea? What?
PEAK ATTENTION AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
We need to extend our remit. Quick.
We face a situation of ‘peak attention’. Similar to peak oil. There are some studies now looking at how very advertising forms are becoming less effective, especially in younger people. Ad blocking, ad-skipping and a growing blindness. It’s like they’re losing the part of their peripheral vision that used to notice ads. Or they’ve reassigned it to notice friends’ updates.
We need to stop thinking like advertising people. Our remit needs to be different. Because buying peoples attention is generally not sustainable or even possible anymore. Often the amount of money that is required to convince an audience of something, could be used to solve one of their problems, or put something useful in their hands, or help them make a real connection with someone or overcome an obstacle or express themselves in ways they want to. These kinds of solutions have been talked about for decades and occasionally been part of the creative toolkit. But they will become the norm sooner than we think and much of the easy lifting ad creation work will be automated and distributed algorithmically. We need to construct our creative companies around this premise, find real insights that allow our briefs to foster non-advertising ideas and continually collaborate with clients around these new possibilities.
We need to get better at getting better.
And we need to approach the way we do things with a notion of continuous improvement. Unfortunately the rate of change is picking up, not dying down. So we need to have massive appetites for working better. We need to think like hackers. Solve problems, create new value, discover things. We need to apply that M.O. to the way we go about things, not just to the answers to creative briefs. We need to hack advertising itself.
Like I said, more on these soon.