Flatland is a novel published in 1884 by Edwin A. Abbot, a Shakespearean scholar that lived in Victorian England. The story describes a two-dimensional world occupied by geometric figures.
A three-dimensional sphere visits Flatland and tries to convince its inhabitants of the existence of a third dimension. The two-dimensional beings are initially open to the idea, but when the sphere tries to convince them of the existence of more dimensions, they become fearful and confused, rejecting the possibility.
As marketers, we work so hard to identify patterns and segments using traditional demographics that we fail to see the world changing around us.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” - Peter DruCker
As the data captured by digital-first companies such as Netflix demonstrates, broad demographic categories and generalisations are irrelevant and a distraction to brands that value meaningful connections and expect a return on investment from online advertising.
A teenage boy in Japan may be as excited about watching the next Marvel release, as a grandmother in Canada. And yet, blinded by what they measure most brands still believe the world fits into neatly packaged boxes, in a kind of structure that would thrill someone with severe OCD.
Due to the escalating political and public debate on equality issues, there had been serious backlash against stereotypes and biases in advertising. Petitions, complaints to advertising watchdogs and social media naming and shaming of offending brands are now a regular feature of the advertising industry.
The large brands, those that can afford it, focus on the next big thing--data driven hyper-personalisation. They gobble up data as greedily as the cookie monster diving into a jar of chocolate chip biscuits. Unfortunately, most just get massive indigestion incapable of making sense of the tsunami of information stored on their servers, fighting with lawyers and regulators over appropriate data usage, and struggling to setup up suitable privacy and security governance in the age of digital fraud and hacking.
Just like their counterparts in financial services , the advertising platforms thrive in complexity and somewhat shady business. The ad tech landscape is increasingly opaque and fragmented. New devices, channels, and tools flood our newsfeeds as we step into the future ill-prepared to deal with the looming internet of things, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
In today’s fast changing world, marketers either experience an onset of schizophrenic attention as they seek to cut through the clutter, or suffer from paralysis—frozen by complexity and change.
The rise of programmatic ad fraud, the exponential adoption of ad blockers and the shrinking attention span of digital users waste away marketing budgets.
Marketing experts from platforms and agencies tell us that we are in the age of experiences and meaningful connections, that we must create delightful, surprising moments instead of focusing on our products and services. Although partially true, their message hides and undermines a simpler, healthier perspective, the one that places the emphasis on sustainable businesses that have a clear purpose and stand for greatness, goodness, and progress. A focus on continuous innovation, on added value products and services that people need and want.
A healthy skin shines from inside out, becoming an excellent foundation for effective advertising. Delightful experiences and meaningful connections start with the business vision, the offerings strategy and design, the empowered employees that thrive by removing silos and creating impact.
Large or small, the brand must focus first on its essence, and if necessary evolve it to meet the expectations of this new age of meaning, experience, connection, and sharing. Popularity contests are not going to work. Goosebumps and fuzzy feelings don’t drive conversion in isolation.
The ambition to know our prospective customers is, of course, valid and worth pursuing. Gathering insights and building a deeper understanding of current and future markets is an exercise in focus, determination, design and technical capability. But, precision must not ignore issues of privacy and security. Focus is not about big data; it is just enough data— the right data. Seamless integration in brand placement and native advertising cannot compromise the trust and transparency between brand and audience.
Today’s backlash focuses on equality; tomorrow’s uprising will voice privacy as the primary concern. In a world where yesterday's whistleblowing traitors are tomorrow’s heroes, where boundaries between physical and digital first fade and then disappear, we must not underestimate or patronise our audiences. Connections must be meaningful, but respectful; they must be relevant, but non-intrusive.
And if, by now, you are thinking, “Give me a break! What is a marketer to do?” Check us out.
We believe in delightful and meaningful moments, but above all else, we believe in your brand and the products and services it has to offer. We know that audiences will be grateful and excited to give your offerings and experiences their undivided attention, at the right place and time and on their terms. This laser-like precision will drive the results that really matter. Likes, shares, and smiling Emojis are fun, but at Unonimity we only get goose-bumps when you acquire or retain customers.
We are Unique, Diverse and In Control
Brands must accept that we are complex and multi-dimensional creatures freed by the internet to indulge in our unique interests without fear of judgment and validated by the connections we make in the digital realm.
The long tail is our trail, and we wander through many tails and trails in pursuit of utility, meaning, and joy. All companies have to do is meet us there beyond the Flatland that tries to deny our individuality, and beyond the Wasteland that threatens our privacy and security. We may indeed indulge in the joyride of Popularityland, but we see beyond it as we seek value.
A thriving, healthy, respectful ecosystem between brands, partners and customers delivers the best results. Join us as we design a new land.