The Experience Economy Changes How Brand Marketers Think

As new channels and more data emerge, marketers seek deeper engagements.


Spending a week with over 70 brand marketers is a refreshing reminder that the basic needs of most advertisers remain pretty simple and unsurprising. They want more direct access to your audiences. But the complexity comes in the execution.

People-based marketing represents the confluence of multiple forces. First, digital data allows for a level of behavioral tracking at the user level that is unprecedented and at the center of what marketers are calling a “single point of truth.” These are centralized databases that aggregate data from digital fingerprints, marketing partners and various media platforms create deep profiles of every customer. This data is being designed to power real-time interactions with customers across channels and devices and in response to their contexts and actions.

Application Counts

The other key force driving media consumption—its highly fragmented and personalized patterns on many screens, regardless of size.

This has several very big implications for media. First, marketers are looking beyond the traditional “campaign-mode” of media buying. While product and brand launches will still require the big top-of-funnel buys, ever more attention is being focused on the ongoing conversation with the existing customer base and capturing prospects at the right moment of need.

Brands want to reimagine themselves as service and experience-driven rather than product driven. The head of Intel’s in-house creative studio, Yogi Graham, walked through how the company has repositioned its brand from technology inside stuff. “Rather than say look at the thing Intel powers, instead it’s look at the experiences it makes possible.” Partnerships with Lady Gaga at the Grammys and Super Bowl, for instance, leveraged dazzling online experiences, including a drone ballet that formed unique entertainment experiences and creative assets it reiterated through social and free earned media.

There is genuine skepticism around the effectiveness and accountability of digital advertising. Gavin Carr, a marketing manager for Dollar Shave Club said that his brand has stayed out of the programmatic media marketplace in part because of the lack of transparency and viewability. In a snap survey of brands attending the conference, programmatic media buying along with paid social media were the two areas more brands were bringing in-house—mainly in order to have more direct control of data and costs.

There are upsides to these trends for publishers, however.

Brands love integrations now more than ever. Showing the brand in use, benefiting lives and actually part of everyday life dramatizes the “service” gestalt.

Energize the Influencers

Brands are touting their social influencer programs for many reasons. Foremost, it underscores authenticity. Second, it shows the product working in life. Third, it’s conversational with consumers—the mode brands want to be in.

And finally, these influencer programs usually generate creative the brand can own. This becomes increasingly important in a fragmented mediascape. When I asked marketers about their biggest challenge in executing cross-channel campaigns, almost all of them led with “creative.” When it comes to video especially, brands simply don’t have the assets to feed all of these screens with well-targeted media. As Brad Dolian, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing tells me, UGC helps solve for this. They partner with established influencers in the outdoorsman community to host efforts like Facebook Live events and gather UGC submissions showing their products in action. It provides a wealth of media, often already in social formats, that can be recut onto a wealth of other video programs.

The biggest challenge for publishers and all media will be how to enable a more service-oriented style of interaction with brands. In many ways, this need echoes the challenge media brands themselves are facing as media usage fragments. As users dance across screens, invest more of their interactions with ambient computers, an Internet of Things, or even just simultaneous multi-screen interactions, consumers will look to brands that dance with them, not interrupt them. Marketers are looking to build or be part of more seamless interactions with consumers or special, memorable moments. So media needs to be in step with them.

We’re all in the experience industry now.


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