Every marketer has been faced with a moment of uncertainty in their career. It’s the type of tipping point where they question whether they’ve made the correct decision or have gone too far outside the lines. These moments can be defining and differentiating for a brand, but when marketers rightly take the risk and choose the road less traveled, they can have true impact and influence.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed consumers’ habits and lifestyles as they were suddenly required to stay home and keep distant from friends and relatives. Consequently their needs and desires pivoted and trends like TV streaming and the work-from-anywhere culture accelerated. It is in an advertiser’s nature to respond to cultural moments and sensitivities, and as a result, marketing messaging needed to be adjusted to speak to these new habits.
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In 2020, marketers took a risk and began putting out messages honoring frontline healthcare workers, acknowledging everyone’s itch to get outside and recognizing the difficult times many found themselves in. Brave marketers hoped that these narratives would land with sensitivity.
Now, a year later, these stories are not risky; they are not unique. Brands are coming up against a transitional period and they must ask themselves, “How can we be brave in this moment?” The answer seems to come down to brand purpose.
The Impact of Purpose in a Content-Heavy Digital World
The average daily time spent consuming content online more than doubled in 2020, and the trend has shown no sign of letting up. The pandemic evidently shifted consumer attention toward online content and with that, the pure amount of messages and stories an average person consumes on a daily basis has spiked.
Marketers have long been on a quest to cut through the noisy landscape to reach consumers with their story. And, with so many other challenges facing the advertising industry today–from a growing awareness around online privacy, to social and political injustices, to uncertainty around the global health crisis–it is increasingly important to focus on what the brand is doing, rather than what the brand is selling.
Amazon is an example of a brand who has fully embraced this idea over the last few months. With TV ads about their work with education and other philanthropic efforts, Amazon is communicating a key espoused value to give back in a big way. In these short TV moments, Amazon does not once mention its marketplace or any other offerings. The story is solely about its wider mission.
The job search platform, Indeed, took a similar approach with their 2021 Super Bowl TV ad, which highlighted its mission to help people get new jobs. With a high unemployment rate as a result of the pandemic, the message resonates.
However, consumer attention spans seem to be shrinking and awareness around privacy and targeted advertising across digital channels is growing. Now, disseminating a mission-first message is not enough. Now is the time for marketers to question what have become the rules of advertising, experiment with the attention economy, and challenge the standards set by the large tech players.
The idea of meaningful measurement in the digital advertising world is shifting. Not only do marketers need to adapt their messaging in unique ways, but they also need to be thinking innovatively and creatively about how to bring consumers into those small advertising experiences in a way that respects the consumer’s attention and their privacy.
Take the Leap
Consumer behaviors and preferences are undoubtedly changing and to keep pace with the shifting environment, advertisers must find a way to stand out. In a recent podcast, Duncan Bird, VP of Brand Marketing & Digital at Fiverr, explains that in 2021 it is increasingly necessary for brands to build stories that are memorable, unique and entertaining.
The advertising industry has heard this before, and perhaps the crux of it is that marketers are obligated to grow with the world around them and be courageous enough to take the non-traditional path to be unique.
While it feels comfortable to leverage the same channels and the same, safe messages, advertisers are in danger of losing consumer attention through repetition. Brands are looking to engage with customers in a time where consumer attention is hard to find and standing out takes guts. To truly reach consumers in this new era, marketers must show creativity to capture consumer attention; they must be intentional with how they bring their message and brand to market and they need to respect, and even preserve, consumer privacy.
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As Bird advises, if it does not feel risky, it is not worth it.