The unreachables

It’s a rare meeting, pitch, or roadmap that doesn’t involve “reaching millennials”.

The term, coined in 1987, was meant to refer to people coming of age in the new millennium – originally those of us born circa 1982. Most sources still define millennials as born within a twenty-year period beginning in the early 80’s.

This may be a generation, but it’s completely useless as a media/marketing target.

The pace of change in media, content, entertainment, and the way marketing messages are delivered is far too fast to measure in generations. It’s not just that today’s sixteen-year-old and today’s thirty-six-year old grew up in completely different worlds. The way we experience, consume, and understand our world changes dramatically year over year.

So, in reality, “millennials” is totally meaningless. 

“Reaching millennials” is almost always code for one of two things: capturing youth culture (whole different deal) or reaching the unreachables. It’s the unreachables that have really changed the way we need to approach business.

Unreachables. We don’t watch TV. We don’t have cable or any push-only subscriptions. We don’t make appointments for media. We don’t have landlines. We’re often totally unwired. We don’t see print. We use adblockers. We “miss” other ads because we’ve already moved on from the target.

We know when we are being “branded at” and can, often do, choose to ignore it.

We make decisions by reaching out to a trusted group of sources that we personally curate, and we can reach these sources from anywhere at any time. 

We’re really hard to map as an attribution model or “customer journey” because there are so many places you can’t see us.

Unreachables don’t consume media in the way we are expected to; don’t sit through ads; absorb messaging in a different way, if at all; aren’t where you expect your audience to be after decades of traditional TV, print, radio, and traditional digital marketing.

Unreachables are the huge and growing audience whose lives don’t align with the plan you made last year, let alone the canonical wisdom you’ve built up over a decade or more.

This has nothing to do with millennials. You want the unreachables.

Tomorrow, November 9, at 2:30 PM CET, I’ll be leading a roundtable at Web Summit’s Marketing X on “How Do You Reach the Unreachable Audience?”. Come say hi if you’ll be in Lisbon. If you’re not, I’ll be sharing some of the group’s insight and comments post-conference. 

Proof “Know Me”

We took a very different direction on this introductory video for the Proof suite of software products. Proof is based on matching cookies and device IDs to a) a media campaign of any kind and b) Lucid’s huge pool of survey respondents. It reveals a picture of the audience that marketers have historically not been able to see.
I thought it would be interesting to work off the idea that we don’t know much about other people, and that as you get to know someone they gradually reveal small things about themselves that add up to a greater whole.

Get uncomfortable with your tools

This seems so obvious but it’s one of those things, like healthy habits, that we forget to do in the rush of daily responsibility.

We spend a lot of time getting systems and tools together that work seamlessly for us. Now, get uncomfortable. Get splinters.

Spend a day, preferably more, dependent on a platform/product that’s not your daily go-to.

Hide your laptop and only use your phone. For everything. Like most of your audience.

If that phone’s an iPhone, get an Android device. Like most of the world.

Go on a trip with only one device.

Use only Internet Explorer for a few days (I know, I know, ow, I said uncomfortable).

“I can’t use IE, I only have a Mac and the simulators don’t work.” USE A PC FOR A WHILE. USE WINDOWS. Apple is fifth or sixth globally in desktop market share this month, depending on whom you listen to.  (I am 1000% guilty as charged on this one.)

Do all your designs/approvals on a triple Thunderbolt display? (I’m guilty of this, too.) Don’t look at them in a big, glossy, pricey format for a few days.

What’s important is to do this not only in product testing (“does it work on IE?”) but in daily life, to understand the real experiences of your real consumers.

 

Scale doesn’t mean anything if your ad doesn’t work

“Equity analyst Dan Salmon may have never gotten as much feedback on a research note as the one he wrote six weeks ago about native ads — the trendy, bespoke executions mimicking the form of the content around them. “It was agency people saying ‘This doesn’t work, it doesn’t scale,'” Mr. Salmon recalled at a panel on native advertising convened by Ad Age and IPG at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They require too much work to be efficient, the agencies complained.” – Ad Age, 1/11/2013.

There’s beyond a cogent argument against using “scale” as the measurement of success in advertising models. Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman says it really well in the video below, as does the head of sales for Tumblr, but I’ll summarize and simplify here.

Scale doesn’t mean anything if you’re not effective. Engagement and life of relevance are direct drivers of effectiveness. “Native” ads, content marketing, and other continuing change-ups on the same old-same old “online” ad are what will create engagement in the future, and what will live on past the fractional moment in which the eye tracks a banner.

My apologies for Ad Age’s Flash videos!

The biggest currency there is today

Your data is (are, depending on your grammatical preference) your personal information – the biggest currency there is today; control it, own it, and even find a way to profit by it. Everybody else does.

Is it more important to trust or to be trusted?

Yesterday I was puzzling out a tough problem and I called two close friends to help me work it through – which they did.

It was a really nice feeling to know I could call on these resources and that I could trust in what I would receive, and feeling that emotion yet again when the problem was lessened reinforced my trust.

Later that night, one of my friends called me for help on a knotty professional problem of her own. Being able to help, and being trusted in my ability to contribute, meant so much more to me than any help I had gotten earlier.

This applies to brands, products, and services as well as to people and resources. We place a lot of value in having systems around us that we can trust. But we must place an even great value on being trustworthy, and valuable, in the minds and hearts of others.

The mobile chasm

Having been intensely steeped over the past year in advertising-based digital brand businesses, I have been walking two companies through this.

The mobile chasm is simply this:

Any native digital media brand (read: a company that began as a website or group of websites, and that sells advertising as its primary revenue stream) is now obviously faced with an audience move to the mobile platform. Audiences are rushing to consume content on mobile much more swiftly than advertisers are moving to BUY ads on mobile. (This isn’t “the Facebook mobile problem”, which is that Facebook’s mobile product is not ideally set-up as an ad vehicle; this is a problem for anyone with a well-trafficked web property whose users are moving to mobile.)

No matter how amazing your mobile offering (site or app) and your ability to offer mobile ad choices of many kinds – your audience is moving to this platform faster than your revenue.
How do you focus on mobile as a necessary priority while nurturing the old-school Interwebs place where people are still spending most of their digital media money?

And even more sleepless-night-creating: how do you handle the period soon to come when your users are hugely mobile and media buyers have still not quite caught on? A huge chunk of the media buying community is still busy moving dollars to online from other media. Mobile is barely a twinkle in their eye.

With luck, it’ll be a brief period, because advertisers do follow audiences, but there is going to be catch-up time.

Are you ready for the chasm?

 

Photo by Doug Brown. Creative Commons.

Audience?

Remember “the audience is listening”? No longer applicable.

If you define an audience as a group of people who are only, or even primarily, watching and/or listening, then there’s no such thing as an audience anymore.

Photo by Pieter Musterd. Creative Commons.

How to understand social

There is a perception that social media is an extension of digital marketing, and this makes it frightening new territory for people who don’t see themselves as digital.

But it’s not the same as learning code or even learning to troubleshoot your laptop or hook up a home system. There’s a reason it’s called social. It’s not digital.

Relax.

It’s technology catching up to human nature.

If you can be social, you can handle social media. Just do what comes naturally (really!). Don’t sell, just like you wouldn’t sell to friends.

Photo by Suzanne. Creative Commons.