Is Advertising Dead?

There are people in the industry that are going so far as to say that 2017 is the year that advertising as we know it comes to an end. We’ll have to re-evaluate that come January 2018, but the point is that the marketing landscape is changing- shifting towards an era that is more focused on genuine engagement with brands (and not just the online kind of engagement) rather than forced consumption of branded materials/content. This shift is specifically made possible by the current transition into to a world in which interruptions are dwindling.

Traditional advertising as well as digital/social advertising has relied on interrupting user experiences: broadcast advertising disrupts your programming, print ads interrupt your reading material, digital banners interfere with your browsing, and so on and so forth. But we’re starting to see a world in which technology (right now namely AI driven technologies and voice interfaces) is eliminating the platforms on which consumers are subject to interruption. We’ve seen this before with the advent of the MP3, the DVR and more recently, most forms of streaming services.

But, as pointed out at Event Marketer’s Experiential Marketing Training Camp, “there is no DVR for real life.” As much as we would like to, we can’t pause or fast-forward real life, which is basically defined as a constant stream of experiences.

Enter experiential marketing (or “re-enter” as the case may be, but with a stronger sense of purpose). It isn’t new, but unlike other forms of advertising, it probably isn’t going anywhere. And that’s because experiential marketing isn’t just an art; it’s a science.

There’s a lot psychology at play here – the psychology of engagement. It’s actually pretty simple: humans crave experiences and interactions; it’s hardwired into our DNA, we are wired to connect.

This innate desire for connection actually fits in perfectly with experiential marketing.

Consumers want their voices heard. People don’t want to be “talked-at” by brands, they want to be “talked with.” And some of the most innovative brands are listening. One of the best examples of this is Lay’s “Do us a Flavor” campaign.

Essentially, experiences like these are the foundation of a relationship with a brand. So really, brands are relationships and relationships are human.

Instead of B2B or B2C, brands should be thinking in terms of H2H (human to human). Let’s take Southwest Airlines for another example. A (hilarious) one of a flight attendant turning a mundane safety announcement into a personal interaction went viral, and has over 23,665,000 views to date.

This really is experiential marketing in its purest form. Experiential marketing humanizes brands. It makes perfect sense, since it is one of the only forms of marketing that actually involves human-to-human interaction.

While we cannot predict the future of advertising as we know it, it is safe to assume it will not go gently into that dark night and will likely not in fact disappear altogether any time soon as long as brands continue to create meaningful experiences.

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