The internet isn’t just something that affects our social lives, although many people still look at it that way. Yes, we’ve changed the way we connect on a monumental scale, implementing tools like email to instantly get in touch with each other and using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share the daily happenings of our lives. However, there’s so much more than just the extracurricular moments. There's the socialization aspect that happens after the bells of real life ring.
When you look closely, the internet has completely changed everything.
And, no, that is not an exaggeration.
The internet has completely reshaped not just the ways we socialize, but also how we do business, which, for advertisers, is huge.
In fact, over one third of businesses today currently sell online. This means that customers are demanding this as an option - otherwise this number would be much lower. In general, people don’t love change. They would rather stay comfortable as a means of risk reduction. But when the livelihood of your business - and yourself - depends on it, you may rethink your game plan.
Being online is a must for 99% of businesses today. Why? Because that’s where all of the consumers’ money is right now.
According to a recent study, published by BigCommerce, 96% of Americans that have access to the internet have purchased something online - an impressive 80% of them in the last month alone. Talk about demand!
If you know anything about business, and where the money is spent, the advertising will follow.
And follow it has.
Online advertising has become one of the biggest businesses this decade - and it’s only going to get bigger. Or, at least, it’s going to try.
With substantial growth happening so quickly, many experts are looking for the weaknesses in the infrastructure. How much growth can the internet handle before something breaks and becomes unsustainable?
When you look at the internet objectively, you recognize patterns. Where we've seen the biggest growth is at those junctures by which it has integrated into our daily lives seamlessly. Social media, for example, being one of them.
Online advertising is in a delicate state. While there is an awful lot of success, there is also a whole lot of failure. Billions and billions of dollars of it. Big time ad agencies are quickly discovering that old methods and strategies are ineffective online. What used to work is no longer getting the conversion rates they want.
One of the many reasons is that online shoppers are able to go directly to the source - or at least to sources that are outside of the hired ad agency or company themselves. Before the internet, companies could be selective about the image they put forth. They had almost complete control about what was said about them, how it was said, and when it was said. Yes, there was word of mouth, but, without instant connection through social media, it took some time for it to spread - and it gave them time to retarget and refocus their message if need be.
The internet has changed all of this.
Today, influencers can hijack advertising, determining the fate of a product or a business with one snap, photo, or tweet. This type of instant, almost guerrilla, marketing has made ad agencies completely rethink their strategies.
This reminds me of the aggregation theory, which states that distributors, because of the scale of their reach, must focus on the consumers as their top priority. Every relationship and interaction is important and valuable.
Successful companies are the ones that understand this new relationship with the customer. Those who don’t are left in the dust, wondering why their million dollar television campaign didn’t get the response they wanted - and then are astounded at the “small” competition who just crushed their numbers thanks to smart, possibly even “free” influencer and online marketing.
Thanks to this aggregation theory, ad agencies must quickly realize that in order for them to be relevant, they must be current, live, and personable. Being current is the buzzword in advertising at the moment - and for good reason. Showing your customers that you are a real business, one with a soul who is also concerned and aware of what is going on in the world can mean the difference between making sales or not.
Oreo, actually, was one of the first major corporations to use smart, live marketing - and it completely shocked the world. During the infamous power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo took to Twitter and ran a spur of the moment ad campaign referencing this outage - and it happened during the live game. This quick thinking campaign resulted in an increase of sales, and was a huge bonus to the company. But, more importantly, it set a new precedent for companies everywhere. Gone were the luxurious days of spending months on a campaign. Consumers want the message current, they want it real, and they want it now.
Online and digital advertising is a whole new world thanks to the internet. In order to keep up, agencies like the team behind Oreo must learn how to throw outdated strategies to the curb and talk directly to the consumer. Furthermore, these agencies must be aware of the conversations that are happening online about their product - and the products of their competition. By being attentive to the customers, ad agencies have the potential to earn the trust and respect of potential consumers - even those who have been loyal to competitors in the past.
The shake up of the internet is far from over. Everyone needs to hang on. But those who focus on the consumer, and who never take their eyes off them, have the best chance of staying on and reaping the benefits and success that comes with it.Arielle Jessel, is the cutting edge Director of Performance Platforms at Los Angeles and New York-based full service advertising agency Quigley-Simpson. She can be reached at [email protected].