More thoughts and fallout from this week’s IAB MIXX Conference …
One of the highlights (if not the highlight) of the session was Charlie Rose‘s interview with Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief of WIRED magazine. While the main subject of their interview was meant to be FREE, Anderson’s recent book about digital markets’ downward pressure on pricing, a far more interesting topic emerged from the conversation.
In detailing the evolution of online marketing, Anderson made the cogent observation that “Google invented small to small when it comes to advertising.” As the discussion progressed, Anderson returned again and again to this thought. It’s clear that he thinks that localization and targeted individual messaging are key to the next phase of online development.
If Anderson is correct, this will have an impact on almost every aspect of digital interaction and marketers’ jobs just got a lot harder. Anderson believes that “Freemium will be a standard business practice but everyone’s premium model will look different.” But the ramifications of “small to small” as a communications model go even further. Both Rose and Anderson argued that some print media could continue to support display advertising (since the experience of reading a magazine or a book is largely visual) but the concept of display on the web could go the way of street walkers wearing sandwich boards. In a similar vein, newspapers will have serious issues competing for local advertising because they lack the ability to target their offerings in the way that Google Ad Words can.
Anderson argued that “Small is the most important thing. It’s the natural level of our engagement.” And he is not alone in this belief. Tim Armstrong of AOL talked about Patch, a company he invested in before having AOL acquire it. Their business model? Providing hyperlocal information for small towns and communities. George Bodenheimer also referenced the trend when discussing ESPN Local’s debut in Chicago and Boston. And perhaps, the most telling expression of this trend was a workshop later in the conference where Amazon presented themselves as the new “go to channel” for third party advertising. Makes sense right? if you’re going to narrowcast your brand message, why not go with a company that has more information about consumers’ individual purchase habits than almost anyone in the world (they’ve even got a leg up on Google since Amazon has conversion data rather than search data).
What’s the take away for brand marketers and anyone trying to get their message out to the new generation of consumers? That you have to know your customers as well as you know yourself. You have to understand, who they are, where they live, what they eat for breakfast and more. Yahoo debuted their new global branding slogan “It’s Y!ou” at the conference. But that’s old school thinking. The message really should have been “It’s Y!ou, (insert name here). The classic P & G days of talking about the mythical “consumer” are over. Now we need to talk about Bob. Or Jane. Or Sergei.
How will your organization respond to this new business challenge? Will it continue to make products and advertising for the “marketplace”? Or will it use the new digital tools that we’ve all been given to forge real and personal relationships with its customers? Will your company continue to “Think Big”? Or will it start thinking “Small”?