This morning Razorfish's FEED report came out. It's a well-structured, thought through, data-supported case for brands to engage their customers through digitally-delivered experiences (or 'engagement').
Of course, this is nothing totally new. My old colleague Tom Ajello (now CD and founder at Poke) was exhorting his agency colleagues to create 'experiences, not messages' back in 2005. And Garrick Schmitt's (Group VP Experience Planning at Razorfish) own article in Ad Age today references many brands that have been ploughing this furrow for some time.
If you've read my blogging before, you'll know that I feel that the 'experiences, not messages' idea is the way forward for brands. And that this argument will win through. Why?
- Because we live in an attention economy, where consumer attention is increasingly scarce, more valuable, more in demand, and more aggressively competed for by brands.
- Because in our current era, the consumer zeitgeist is a pragmatic and frugal one. we want brands to work harder for us - rather than be aspirational idols to worship.
- Because in a market of declining ad effectiveness and resulting ad clutter, consumers filter out the message overload more than ever.
-Because experiencing (or DO-ing) something is far more memorable than passively seeing or hearing something (there is loads of research on this area of cognition and learning, if you want to check it out)
- Because Digital technology allows for the creation of experience at global scale, and free to the consumer, for the first time.
- Because I get to see a lot of campaign metrics first-hand, and can I tell you, 'engagement' kicks ass if you know how to invest in it.
All of which is a good thing in my book. As a marketer, the opportunity to create experiences with intrinsic value for consumers makes me feel like I'm on the side of the Angels for a change. And it looks like the argument for consumer engagement will win through. But hold on - there have been famous disasters as 'traditionally-minded' brands grapple with the idea of engagement - remember Chevy Tahoe? - and there will doubtless be many more.
So this begs the question - what is a solid methodology for creating 'engagement'? How do you identify the most appropriate vehicle for a given brand, product and/or audience? Should it be based on utility, entertainment, information, or some other value-add? Would you use online games, virtual worlds, social networks, bespoke applications, or (heaven forbid) a WIDGET? How would these choices affect the quality, and quantity of the brand impact on your audience?
Stay tuned for some answers - and give me your thoughts!