Can you do the Cann Cann?

21 Dec

If you can’t read through the blur, the important part of this .png is:

Contest #2: From now through December 31, send a tweet with the hashtag #mccann2011 and describe what you think the most important trend in advertising will be in 2011.  The author of the most insightful #mccann2011 tweet will win lunch with Mark Fallows, McCann NY’s Director of Creative Technology, and Alessandra Lariu, McCann NY’s Digital Group Creative Director.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, (or lets be honest, the opportunity for a free lunch) I thought I’d put my thinking cap on and try to win this bad boy.

So here goes- my prediction for the most important trend in advertising in 2011:

Increased personalization, made possible by continued innovations in research- which are enabled by advances in technology.

The need for increased personalization:

TV/web/mobile/magazine/newspaper/iPad/email/billboard/subway steps/bus wrap/taxi video screen/coffee cup holder/umbrella/pen… if you’re scratching your head and saying, geez, she left out xyz advertising surface, then I’ve effectively made my point.  We’re barraged by hundreds, if not thousands, of advertisements every single day- and as the number of consumer touchpoints (read: advertising space opportunities) continue to increase, so does the clutter.   The increasing number of consumer touchpoints (and the resulting clutter) is making it, in turn, increasingly harder for advertisers to reach and connect with their target consumers.

And it seems as if in an effort to cut through the clutter, advertisers are only barraging consumers with more and more advertisements, creating more clutter and dare I say- losing sight of what consumers really want?  If consumers are constantly bombarded with [an increasing number of] advertisements, how do advertisers convince consumers to buy their products over their competitors’ products?

Enter the need for personalization (and for some critical thinking), stemming from this very simple question:  Why do consumers really buy a product? From a very basic/macro level  perspective, I think consumers buy products based on need or want, which are personal and emotional decisions. But how exactly does need or want manifest in a purchase decision?

Let’s think through an example: I need a pair of pants.  Why? Society (and law) dictate that covering your bottom half is the appropriate thing to do while in public places.   But then this need of a pair of pants could be questioned- why not need a dress or a skirt?  Because pants will keep me warmer during the winter.  Ok need covered, moving on to want– I want to fulfill my law abiding covering my bottom-half needs by buying a pair of jeans.  Why jeans over slacks/leggings/sweatpants?  Because jeans are more comfortable.  Or because they are more flattering.  Or because they are less expensive than other options.  Or because I can wear them at work and at play.  Or because, because, because… once again I hope you’re scratching your head and saying, geez, she hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of why a consumer would buy a pair of pants.  But once again, that’s the point— consumers buy products for a variety of personal and emotional reasons.  And advertising is about trying to figure out those personal, emotional reasons- and we’re not all a size 2 with a great derriere.  So advertising needs to think smarter and more personal, rather than thinking larger.

I think 2010 saw a breakthrough in general advertiser thinking- from thinking the larger the reach the greater the return, to thinking of smarter ways to reach the people who are most likely to buy their products.  I think this shift was greatly enabled by advances and innovations in research, (oh no, the awful word!) made possible by advances and innovations in technology.   In 2011, I think advertisers will increasingly embrace these changes in research and harness the power of technology to create more personalized advertisements for their target consumers.

Advances/Innovations in research and technology that have been enabling/and are going to continue to enable personalization in 2011:

1.  Social media– 2010 was a big year for social media.  According to eMarketer, 73% of companies with 100+ employees used social media in their marketing mix in 2010.   I think this percentage will increase to (at least) the high 80s in 2011, as advertisers realize the benefits of social media.  Short list of benefits: social media is relatively inexpensive for an advertiser and enables a 2 way conversation with consumers.  (see my full list here)  This 2 way conversation creates the opportunity for advertisers to interact with consumers in real time and to talk directly with consumers.  Read: allows for advertisers to get personal.  Ironic, isn’t it– this innovation in technology mimics a really ‘old’ form of advertising- the door-to-door salesman- that allowed for personalized pitches to consumers.

But consumers have changed the way in which they learn about products, and advertisers need to adapt the ways in which they reach out to and connect with consumers.   And this innovation in technology (that creates the opportunity for greater personalization) creates the opportunity for innovations in research. Social media creates a real time sounding board for advertisers- what do consumers really like about a product? Or really hate about a product?  What are they saying about competitors?  Advertisers can use this research (yes research- it’s data from a large, randomized sample, isn’t it?) to tweak their campaigns in other media- have consumers taken to facebook/twitter/myspace/blogs to say they love how your jeans really flatter their rear end?  And do traditional focus groups/web surveys substantiate this claim? (I think it’s best to use multiple sources for a more well-rounded understanding- so while I think social media is an innovation in research, I don’t think we need to discount any other forms of research either)  And does your current TV ad/print ad/radio ad, etc. advertise to consumers this rear-end enhancing benefit?  Whether the answer is yes or no, advertisers can use this research and tweak (not replace!) existing or future advertisements that take these findings into consideration.

Quick recap: Advances in technology (social media) enables advertisers to have a direct, real time conversation with their consumers (personalization).  This advance in technology also creates the opportunity for innovation in research methods- an unsourced, self populating focus group.

2. Hyper targeting- While hyper targeting isn’t new, technology is enabling new ways for advertisers to reach super niche audiences.  Hyper targeting allows advertisers to personalize their messages since the focus is on a much smaller audience.  And (eek!) like it or not, research and data collection are a large part of hyper targeting- using data to better direct your messages to a relevant audience.  And data collection through innovations in technology are affecting how advertisers can more effectively hyper target their audience.  For example, in television advertising, companies like TRA are ‘match[ing] household television ad exposures with the actual purchases of the products being advertised in that same household’ (via TRA) so advertisers can reach a more targeted audience.  How’s that for helping advertisers eliminate waste/reach viewers more likely to purchase their products– made possible by the innovation in research methods- connecting purchases to TV viewership.  And companies like Invidi are rolling out targeted TV ads by cross-referencing US census data and set top box data (Invidi).  Similar to how social media is redefining what ‘direct’ communication is, companies like Invidi are redefining the uses of US Census data- hey, that’s using the innovations in technology to advance research methods!

And on the Internet, data collection through tracking (think even as simple as Google Analytics) can give advertisers a better idea of what their consumer looks like- for example, what are other websites do their visitors go to- giving advertisers the opportunity to target consumers on these sites as well.  Or companies like Colligent, who aggregate data across social media networks to give advertisers a better idea of their consumers-  for example, fans of Levi jeans are most likely to be men ages 25-44, like to read ESPN, and spend the most time watching Border Wars. (read more about Colligent here)

Quick recap: Innovations in research, fueled by advances in technology, are giving advertisers a better idea of who their target consumer is- and not just who their customer is on the web or TV, but across multiple platforms.  These innovations in research and advances in technology are moving the idea of hyper targeting forward and allows for increased personalization.

3. Neuromarketing- ‘research [that] removes subjectivity and ambiguity by going right to measuring observable brain behavior. Respondent attention level, emotional engagement and memory storage are common metrics’ (from fastcompany).   Advances in technology have made neuromarketing possible- for example, Innerscope Research uses a chest strap to capture the biometric measurements, which neuroscientists then analyze to form an overall engagement score. (more about Innerscope here).  Neuromarketing gives advertisers data that shows what creative elements made viewers engage/disengage with the ad.  Advertisers can then take this data to create an advertisement that will better connect with their consumers on an emotional, personal level.  And if advertisers have defined a targeted, niche audience, they can use this data to create personalized messages that resonate on an emotional level- hmm, didn’t we talk about earlier how advertising and purchase decisions are really emotional decisions?

Quick recap:  Are you starting to notice a trend?  Once again, advances in technology have enabled innovations in research, which in turn, is helping advertisers personalize their messages for their target audience.

So there you have it- my prediction for the most important trend in advertising in 2011- Increased personalization: made possible by continued innovations in research, enabled by advances in technology.  Of course, social media, hyper targeting and neuroscience aren’t the only examples of how personalization will occur, but I think they are three great examples!

If you’re reading this and aren’t affiliated with McCann, that’s ok- like I said, I never turn down the opportunity for a free lunch- or for that matter, the chance for a great, creative discussion! 🙂



2 Responses to “Can you do the Cann Cann?”

  1. Scott Tran January 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Another trend that I think will hit mainstream this year is local/hyperlocal targeting. Location based services, mobile and social media are all bringing local online. More people are going to go online to address their local needs – examples of this trend include Craigslist, Zillow, Groupon, Yelp, etc. All of those people provide opportunities for advertisers to use existing technology to get very personal and very local in their efforts.


  1. Explicity Implicit ‘Skins’ « Just Allie - January 25, 2011

    […] a previous post I wrote that a purchase decision is a matter of need and want- which are personal and emotional decisions.  Advertisers are tasked with finding a way to tap […]

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