Until recently, advertising has changed very little over the past hundred years. It’s been a simple model – engage temperamental creatives who drink too much to create clever advertisements, place the results in print and broadcast venues, and hope for the best. Success metrics have always been fuzzy, and 19th century store owner and marketing pioneer John Wanamaker’s quote has stood the test of time: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
For most of the history of advertising, the biggest problem has always been in determining what the customer actually wants to hear. For the most part, the solution rested in the instincts of the Mad Men’s booze-fueled late night sessions, along with a handful of anecdotal evidence from sales partners, and results from a few focus groups. Focus groups continue to be used today at agencies all along Madison Avenue, but the fallacy there is that by engaging a group of ten or twenty consumers, it is possible to determine what a much larger group wants. Today’s marketer must give all consumers a voice. Your focus group is the entire Internet.
Your fans will market for you
Apple Computer’s “Shot with iPhone 6” ad campaign used hundreds of billboards that showed photographs taken by customers using their iPhones. The campaign, which began as a social media experiment and went on to receive top honors in the Outdoor Lions category at the Cannes Festival. This highly successful campaign was exciting not just because it showed fabulous photos taken on the iPhone – it was innovative because Apple took the bold step of relinquishing control to the crowd.
“The greatest innovation in marketing today is seen when marketers no longer try to control every aspect of the campaign,” said Trika. “In the ‘Shot with iPhone 6’ campaign, Apple left most of the marketing to the fan base. There will always be some negative comments when you go to the crowd, and Apple was no exception. But the results can be overwhelmingly positive, especially when you choose the right venues and engage directly with your audience.”
Truth in advertising: Who to believe
Consumers are no longer going to take you at your word when you say you’re the best, the cheapest, or the most beautiful. They’re not going to believe the beautiful young movie stars in your television advertisements. They’re going to ask their friends, and they’re going to do it online through social media, and by reading user-generated reviews. Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising report notes that 83 percent of respondents across 58 countries rank “friends and family” recommendations as the most influential, and 66 percent of respondents said they trust consumer opinions that have been posted online.