Every company is a media company and other things you should know in 2016

October 7, 2016

Read time 4 min

Advertising sucks

Yeah, we went there. No one really likes to be interrupted by ads. No one.

Professor Scott Galloway thinks that the target group everyone wants to reach – the young and wealthy – are currently getting up, leaving the admosphere (I might’ve just come up with that term), and paying for peace.  Netflix, for example, would apparently lose two thirds of its subscribers by allowing ads to enter the blissful, uninterrupted world of on-demand quality content.

And so the world’s fastest growing companies have one thing in common: they do not advertise.

A fat advertising budget is no longer a signal of success. On the contrary, traditional players are falling as startups unbundle the P&Gs of the market and reallocate ad budgets to bettering their products.

Intercom cofounder Des Traynor mentions Uber, Slack and Dropbox as recent examples of companies kicking it with a superior product and a $0 marketing budget. Gary Vaynerchuck, the designated social media marketing rebel of the conference, distinguishes between commercials and quality content: according to him an ad gets to interrupt our flow if the quality of it is high enough.

A fat advertising budget is no longer a signal of success.

Whatever the approach to paid attention, speakers seem to agree on the loser in the fight for audiences. Tough luck, television.

In fact, Galloway predicts that we’re currently experiencing the last gasp of broadcast television. Rio Olympics and the United States presidential election of 2016, he says, will be the last broadcasted events before the cable’s getting cut.

Ad money is escaping from bothering audiences on broadcast to the lush lands of pinpoint targeting on Facebook, Google, and whatever is coming next. Speaking of whatever is coming next…

New social media aren’t for the hip and cool – they’ll soon be the only game out there

“If you don’t understand the speed at which your customers move, you are very vulnerable. Attention is your only asset.”

Vaynerchuck speaks with an air of urgency, downs a shot on stage and dismisses all your excuses on why you don’t need be on Snapchat or Instagram.

It’s not mobile first, it’s mobile only. You need to learn how to market on Facebook and Youtube or you’re finished, threatens Vaynerchuck. Every company is a media company, and you should recognise that you, de facto, are one. Immediately, amen.

“The scene is different in my country.” No, it isn’t.

“My customer isn’t in these new media, they’re older.” YOU’RE older.

Vaynerchuck thinks that anyone who’s not retiring in the next ten years needs to familiarise themselves with social media – not because they’re fun but because they’ll soon elbow out all competing channels.

Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter, also discusses the subject. “This is not important and doesn’t affect my business” is a toxic way to think, and it will end up hurting the business.

“My customer isn’t in these new media, they’re older.” YOU’RE older.

Whereas the general consensus seems to be that legacy media can’t compete with their social counterparts for much longer, Galloway predicts that brick and mortar is making a comeback in another strongly digitalised industry: retail.

He thinks that ecommerce companies either build stores or go out of business.

“The world is omnichannel, but the store experience is still the most influential factor when making a purchasing decision. It’s like a first kiss, the first physical interaction the customer has with your product.”

Brands are about hitting below the belt

Dick Costolo describes the development of new technologies like one might describe how avocados in Finland ripen: gradually, then suddenly. Profound technological change often takes time. Yet, when the breakthrough finally happens, the industry has already changed fundamentally.

Changes in technology affect changes in business affect changes in branding and marketing, and the only constant really is change (someone – namely, Traynor – had to say it this time round as well ).

Galloway points out that people used to defer to brands because they don’t have the tools to figure out what product is right for us. In 2016, however, we’re all armed with Google, TripAdvisor, Amazon and Instagram hashtags. Peter Diamandis, CEO of XPRIZE, calls this the era of perfect information: we have access to more tech than the US government in the 1960s, and knowledge is free on Google.

A brand has to scream, be a better person! Think different! Apple users get laid!

What this means is that as consumers, we possess all the tools to make the best and most rational possible choices.

However, successful brands do not appeal to rationality.

According to Galloway, successful brands appeal to emotions (and genital sex). Consumer niche brands with their own distribution are thriving. Margins are made in irrational choices. A brand has to scream, be a better person! Think different! Apple users get laid!

Sound aggressive? Seth Godin says that we’ve branded ourselves to death. Solutions à la one size fits all will simply not cover it anymore. Relevant brand as well as marketing messages should be directed at relevant people who actually want to get them.

Case in point: Nordic Business Forum should probably start bombarding me with elaborate marketing messages on next year’s conference.

Shut up and take my money.

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