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The Age of Networked Influence.

August 20, 2015


When everything is digital, what next? Well, we’re already here. Everything is digital and the way to ensure your brand can survive/stay alive is to understand that you are no longer in a product/service business, but in an experience business, no matter what business you are.

Think of your favorite activity, today a large part of the experience will be digital – watching TV (Netflix), movies (trailers on Youtube), restaurants (reviews, pics on Instagram), even something physical like cycling (Strava). Digital pervades every aspect of everything we do.

Look at the top brands (PWC ’16) in the top 20 are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung and Visa and most of the others have gained their competitive advantage via digital innovation, digital experience and their ability to adapt to a fast changing, fast adoption landscape.

The job of marketing generally is to change consumer behavior or perception via some form of experience. Thinking about the brands you love today and while the brand values, the subconscious take out of that brand and even the product/service remain consistent, the medium through which the experience is delivered will be in a constant state of flux.

This constant state of flux is not scary but an expectation of consumers. We seek it out, the experience of the new, of the exciting, of the engaging is what matters. It took 38 years to get 50 million people listening to the radio once a week. 14 years to get the same watching TV once a week. 4 years to get the same using Netscape (who remembers that). It took Facebook 12 months to gain 100 million users. It took What’sApp 12 months to gain 500 million users and at 700 million users today, they collectively send 30 Billion messages a day.

Brands who understand they are in the experience business and who adopt the technologies to shape these experiences are heralding the start of the Third Advertising Age. The First Age was Brand Influence – ads told consumers what to do. The Second Age was Consumer Influence – social/digital helped to inform consumers. Now with sensors integrated into every product imaginable coupled together with location-based services and a fragmented media landscape we’ll enter an age of Networked Influence. (examples: WeChat Uber integration).

But ask yourself this – once my fridge can tell my Woolworths account that I’m out of eggs and have a box of them delivered by drone (or Deliveroo rider) to my home before I start making that omelet I just googled the recipe of – what next for us marketers… do we even have a job left to do? Well fortunately, there is more to life than buying commodities such as eggs.

Today we need to understand the network of influence the modern consumer is a part of. And by understanding this we can develop a brand experience that can be delivered by via one or many channels. Experiences that drive business results will need to be a symbiosis of great creative ideation and a deep understanding of media and mediums the experience is delivered through.

In summary, now that everything is digital it is “great experiences” that will propel the brands of tomorrow. And those brands need to operationalize to deliver those great experiences quickly. Now that everything is digital – brands in the Third Advertising Age can truly immerse the right consumer with the right thing at the right time.