Can You Trust Your Customers?

It’s not news to any of you who are paying attention to media but we’re at a tipping point.

1898 advertising poster

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cracks in the traditional patterns of media consumption have widened to a point where the foundations of those patterns are falling down. Need proof? How about this morning’s piece is the Wall Street Journal:

Hopes that TV advertising will rebound this fall are beginning to dim. TV networks have been banking on a surge in ad spending in coming weeks, ever since an anemic second quarter reported by media companies and a weaker-than-expected “upfront” advance ad-sales market for the new season. The new season doesn’t kick off until next week but already sentiment is starting to change. On Monday, Jeffries analyst John Janedis lowered his estimates for advertising revenue growth in the second half of the year for most of the biggest media companies

Or this from Kantar Media:

“Four of the nation’s five biggest advertisers,” including Procter & Gamble and AT&T, “cut ad spending on traditional media and online display in the first half of the year.”

So now what?

Millennials spend 30 percent of their time with content created by their peers. This means they’re spending more time with peer-created content than traditional media combined (print, TV, and radio).  Nielsen’s most recent study indicates that Americans aged 18-24 watched a weekly average of 19 hours of traditional TV during Q2 2014. That was a substantial 2-and-a-half-hour drop-off from Q2 2013, which in turn had been down by an hour from the year before.  Spending more heavily in those channels isn’t going to happen.  The impact of most digital display is negligible.  Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?

The answer might just be in the audience itself.  Putting consumers and their messages about the brand front and center – probably through social channels – might just be the way forward.  That’s where is the audience is spending time and the messages are from trusted sources.  As Nielsen found:

Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, often referred to as earned advertising, are still the most influential, as 84 percent of global respondents across 58 countries to the Nielsen online survey said this source was the most trustworthy

The real question is do you trust your consumers enough to hand over your brand?  Can you get on board with them creating content that you’ll push for them?  Are you willing to provide tools – images, logos, whatever – or to promote the products that consumers choose, not those slated for promotion in the marketing plan?

Interesting times.  What’s your take?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Reality checks

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