Turn off the noise

There was a time where people used to read newspapers as their main source of information. It was a time in which radio broadcasts were interrupted by breaking news and TV had an off signal image and a high level pitch to make you notice that you’ve fallen asleep watching the latest show (just for the record, this is not the technical reason, but it is funny). These were times where people just began questioning the power of media and their influence over audiences.

There was a time where elections were won through mass media, through sending a huge amount of messages without an exact target, in which population opinion was so homogeneous, that one message suited all of the population. Or was it? How this relates, even closely to digital media, you might be asking.

There was a time (in 1947), when Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann coined the term “Spiral of silence” in which she stated that a huge amount of those targeted individuals were affected by an overwhelming feeling of pressure coming from public opinion to keep quiet and maintain the status quo of society. I’m just paraphrasing, do your Google research to understand better.

Now, her theory resonated in my mind while looking at my social media feed. How much are we leaving unsaid as brands, as people, as media, as individuals, due to the huge amount of information out there that is establishing our public opinion on topics such as immigration laws, drug regulation, water, digital media, the way we work out, and even the way we decide to eat, talk, and dress.

Noise - embrace it!

Noise –  deal with it!

My previous post discussed the amount of social media that we are using. That was not only bragging about my Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and WordPress accounts (and yes, I have a Google+ now). When the amounts of media outlets are numerous and the amount of data transferred through them is increasing, the chances of getting more noise out of them increase.  If the noise increases, the decoder is not effective, thus the receiver is incapable of interpreting the correct message. All this is tied to brands and social media I swear – bear with me.

As digital marketers we offer a “standard formula” of Twitter, Facebook, and whatever-other-trending-social media is remotely working. But we lose sight of the actual reach of our branding efforts. I’m not questioning the social media efficiency (Obama’s last election proves that it work). Nevertheless I do question our ability to understand how much information we send and how much is actually getting through our target customers’ eyes.

I propose a new communication and marketing strategy (it’s not mine, but I claim it): content is king – I’m trademarking that phrase, because it’s the title of my upcoming book. It is, indeed, all about content. The perfect example: ads that you actually WANT to watch and not just switch channels. Through content, we as marketers could diminish the effects of noise, generating better leads and, ultimately, generate conversions. A great example comes from Apple this Holiday period -despite how much I’m not an Apple fan and completely HATE Christmas – content in this ad switches off every noise and delivers a clear and specific message:





When is too much social media, enough?

There was a time where marketers had a limited number of channels to be worried about. These were the times where people believed in the “Hypodermic Needle” theory, and the immediate effects that mass media had on individuals. There was a time where you had to choose between newspaper and radio or TV to advertise. Those times made the business grow and created huge media empires, you might have seen how thriving that business was in Mad Men (if you haven’t seen the series you should).

Now marketers and audiences are faced with a multiplicity of channels to advertise, announce, and monetize. Companies are building brands around digital media, social media networks are trying to set a price on their influence, and people are moving from one platform from another too fast. Planning a Digital Marketing and Advertising campaign has never been more challenging. The over-personalization, over-customization, and over-spread of communications have proven to be a new barrier for media planners and buyers.

Have you ever thought about the amount of social networks you are part of? And how do companies try to get you to interact with them through them?

Currently we are 1.73 billion users of social media (I’m not lying there are trend studies for that), Asia being the largest player in the board (go figure….).  This social media bubble doesn’t seem as a bubble for me, not anymore.

When we talk about Optimizing a Web Presence or creating a Digital Marketing plan: when is enough communication enough? Are you satisfied by brands being in all the channels? Are we as brands satisfied by being everywhere? Should we do it? Those questions invade my mind every time I see the use statistics of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Reddit, Pinterest, etc., etc., etc. (times 200+ cause that is the approximation I could find)

Are the incentives of improving the rankings for your webpage enough as for your website to be in Google+, even when people are not really using it? Don’t blame me for saying so, but in my last marketing proposal, Google+ was not a key element, I’m just following what the Wall Street Journal knows very well: the social network is a ghost, compared to others.

For me, the new Hummingbird algorithm is fine – except for the clear tendency of Google to force users and marketers to use their platform to get better search rankings. doesn’t it feels like they are rigging the stadium (flashback to Hunger Games – not related maybe, SPOILER ALERT).

In this time of turmoil and change, all I can predict is that targeting and segmenting is even more important than it was before. Demographics, ethnic differences, consumption patterns and neuromarketing are going to have a blast off in the next five years, because we will need more information on our customers – just to know, why are they moving from one network to another?

The answer for now: because brands need to go where people is going – even if it is down a social network labyrinth.

Have you noticed that this post have more YouTube links than the previous ones? Maybe I’ll get a better ranking for that…..or maybe I should share it on Google+ and use the Google+ name more times, in order for Google+ to display my blog in a better ranking because now I should market in Google+ to complete the Google+ requirements….you know what I mean…share my post on Google+….or better do it on Facebook, it’ll reach more people.

What do you think? When is enough, enough?

Living through screens

There was a time in which people did studies on how people used TV, those where the times where “prime time” meant that someone was actually in front of the big screen.  People thought that the “idiot box” was going to diminish the intellectual capacity of individuals. These were the times where the lineal model of communication – source, medium, and receiver – was somehow undoubted. Such times are no more; nevertheless we’ve found a new interest in researching TV.

Have you seen how are we using TV right now? We are never just in front of the box – we are multitasking now. From one screen we move to our smartphone, and then we turn on our tablet to check our email. We are no longer paying our undivided attention to one of them.  There has been a debate of how to call this phenomenon:

The first screen is Cinema – first screening by the Lumiere brothers in 1895.

The second screen was TV – for argument’s sake let’s say Baird achieved this in 1925.

The third screen are PC’s – I’m not even going to say who invented what, let’s use the ENIAC 1 as a reference point, in 1946.

The fourth screen are Digital Signs – Let’s say these are displays controlled by computers.

Digital Signage

This small blast to the past has a point of debate, as mentioned previously. We are travelling with several screens in our pockets, we face a screen even more than we face people, even when we are in front of the TV we are using multiple screens.

Where is the division between reality and virtual reality?

When a monitor becomes a better way of communicating ideas (hash tags), news (Twitter), feelings (Facebook), and wants and desires (Pinterest)?

How is it that a medium that was so immersive such as TV is demanding more actions from us now? Disney now has attractions that show The Little Mermaid in one screen while you interact with the movie over a tablet.

Today I was at a tree lighting event in San Francisco. Carly Rae Jepsen was performing “Call me Maybe”. When I turned around I saw hundreds of phones pointing at the scenario. All of them were “enjoying” the show through a screen, through their devices.

My marketing mind just though:  How can I place an ad there?

The anthropologist inside of me went deeper:

Can you imagine the social implications generated from a mere interaction with screens and no longer with humans?

Screens at Carly Rae Jepsen in San Francisco

A lot of screens!

No answer to that yet….at least not from me….maybe in another time, when the ghost takes over the shell we’ll figure it out. Leave your opinions on the poll below.