Being Digital in 2018 : stop making your clients stupid

For any business, the first digital matter is communication. I would even say that communication is the first concern of any business, regardless if taken with a digital approach or not. No communication, no sales. Communication is the brand, communication is the reputation.

Businesses have used digital channels for communication purposes from the very beginning and it’s not about using it or not even if, regarding media buying, some brands are starting to fear from their brand safety and don’t want to see their ads displayed on content that is not relevant to their image. But, in this specific case, the issue is more about Google being incapable of qualifying its inventory than about the principle of digital communication.

Brands and digital : always present, rarely relevant

If there’s no discussion about the “what”, the “how” has always been disputable. There’s always been a misalignment between how brands behaved, the characteristics of a world become digital and customer expectations.

First because they used the recipes that worked in the “previous world”. “Before”, the places and times where it was possible to talk to customers were known and limited : tv and radio commercials, press ads, public display. The inventory was limited and had to be shared or, more exactly, the more one paid the better spots he got. Most of times, the audience was captive : people were watching Tv, listening to their radio, reading their newspaper or stuck in traffic jams surrounded by advertising displays. Either they liked it or not, remember or not, but they were reached.

With the web, the inventory become infinite. Web, sites, media, apps : it’s a worldwide and endless advertising display. So the strategy consisting of occupying the available space and catch “available brain time” was doomed to fail. But many brands still act as if advertising hype has a future and don’t understand they must change the way they communicate.

From the customer’s standpoint, things were different. They clearly got there was no limit to the number of messages sent to them, made an overdose and eventually stop paying attention to the messages and blocked online ads. The stake moved from exploiting their attention to deserving it.

So it became a matter of quality. Tell stories, do something else than advertising, use the formats people like, make communication easy and nice to consume. Build brand content aiming a filling the huge container the digital space has become.

For what result ?

Back to the starting point.

Brands demand a lot from the customer without giving anything in return

The “average” web user is overwhelmed with brand content. Even worse, the more popular format is video, which monopolizes attention and takes time to consume. They could spend days watching videos. Consider the viral potential of video and the result is that people consume  lots of videos. But videos must catch attention and be understandable by anyone so :

• to catch attention, creative people are pushing the limits so far that the bad taste limit is met more and more often.

• to be understandable by all, the level has been decreased to such an extent that it’s become communication for a dummy audience.

I don’t even mention invitations to share or like…

In the end I find that brands demand a lot to their customers, time, engagement, actions without having given them nothing but a video that’s at best funny and at worse moronic and stultifying.

And in the end, does it help to convert ? I mean, does it help to make money in addition to buzzing and be attention-catching ? No one knows.

It’s high time brands stop monetizing mediocrity. By seeing their audience as morons that consume videos all day long they will eventually lose it or get the audience their communication deserves.

I said that brands were demanding a lot before having given anything or anything valuable. They can entertain (yes…entertainement is the new word for communication and that means something) by bringing value, by teaching people things, by making them more aware of anything. They can make people laugh from time to time but with a smart message. But making them laugh just to get some buzz (that can be bad) is useless.

There’s room to stop communicating more and start communicating better, get qualitative endorsements rather than a buzz in an already noisy space.

Regarding noise and levelling down I want to believe that we already hit the ground and that we will end up doing up. Unless communicators decide to dig to  see if they can find oil.

The good news is that  there are examples of brands that favor relevance over noise, quality over quantity, that try to give something valuable in exchange for engagement. Hope than in 2018 they will become the new normal and, anyway, it’s  a field to explore if you want to revamp your digital communication.


Crédit Photo : Fotolia

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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