The Future of Advertising: Part 2, The Message

Banner Ads are not the future

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the first ever Square Tomato’s first Brown Bag LunchLarry Asher (Owner at School of Visual Concepts and Creative Director at Worker Bees, Inc.) was to speak about his app, an versatile multi-media, interactive book (App-book, Do or Die) and the future of digital advertising.

From my previous blog post: “Larry Asher and Clark Kokich answer the question: How will we, as advertisers, survive in this unfamiliar terrain?”

I will tell you the answer, but first a little backstory. Who is Clark Kokich and why should we listen to him?

Business is a tough story to follow. What I understood is that Avenue A becomes the company aQuantive that became (post-writeoff) Razorfish. (this is the article  talking about the acquisition, and this is the one talking about the write-down, the first quarter of loss for Microsoft, if you’re into the business side of it. If you just want to know whos and whats: wikipedia article) Larry Asher’s presentation was an eye-opener for me. I hadn’t heard of these big players in advertising are and now I realize what a big tide is rolling in. Clark Kokich is the chair of Razorfish, now, one of the world’s largest interactive agencies. And he knows that advertising is changing in big way.

People are not reading newspapers, magazines, listening to radio, or watching television as much as they are plugging in to online content. The interactive nature of the medium changes how people relate to advertising. They don’t passively soak it up. Now, they can ignore it. Adblockers are creating an ad-free world for users. How will we, as advertisers, survive in this unfamiliar terrain?

the square tomato office building
the Square Tomato office building

The Do or Die mantra: it’s not enough to say something. You have to do something. In the age of Social Media, what companies have to say about their product is usually the last thing people turn toward when finding about the product. Recommendations come first, even if it’s from a stranger. It’s more easy to trust a lone stranger on the internet than a corporation. It’s important to demonstrate quality, community, and consideration. It’s not enough to say that you are a great company. You have to be one.

Larry Asher presented the Do or Die ideas with case examples. From the GTI car model’s game to Nike’s “Write the Future” campaign, Asher emphasized that technology will allow us as advertisers to target our demographics in a way never before realized, accomplishing more and for less money. Creating an interactive way to relate to customers and encourage them to tweet, facebook, and youtube, advertising is beginning to transform into a world where experiences are king and sharing them, its queen.

Our portfolios as creatives will rapidly change.  It was brought up at the Lunch that we are in advertising. We make art and words, how can that be enough? Firstly, we are creatives and we sell thinking. Advertising is about words and pictures, but it’s also about compelling stories.

The disciplines of advertising and public relations will merge. We are not just flyer-makers; we are brand diplomats. Asher encourages his clients to brainstorm about how to improve their companies. We, as diplomats, can help facilitate changes. It takes a few hours and a committed team to generate ideas on how to create remarkable experiences. It can be small things like improving the building’s appearance (he gave the example of a hospital façade that needed a good spraying down) or handing out complimentary flowers, the kind of stuff that sticks with a person after a blur of similar experiences. Or making great videos that everyone wants to share with their friends.

The interactive world that media is becoming will change how advertising works. to the point where we can’t really call it advertising. Take the Wikipedia definition: Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action upon products, ideals, or services. In the future, advertisers won’t be the persuaders. It will be your friends.


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