Today I’m speaking at ad:tech in the Javitz Center in New York City. I’m delighted to share the stage with so many smart and adept marketers at a time of profound change in our industry. Before I hit the stage, I thought I’d share a quick preview.
My remarks will center on this fundamental fact: Consumers are more aware than ever before that their data matters and has real value, and as a result, they expect to have reciprocity – in the form of better experiences, better prices, and better service. The whole gamut of ‘better and best’ as the quid-pro-quo of sharing data. As one interesting factoid: we found that 59% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a brand that rewards them for their information.
These and other fundamental findings surfaced in our Digital Trends 2014 study, which included in-depth workshops and interviews with early adopters and trend experts, as well as a global survey of 8000 consumers. We partnered with the Future Laboratory and IPG Mediabrands to uncover eight emerging trends that will impact the way we market to consumers both on and offline. Many of these trends manifest in our Consumer Decision Journey which we’ve unpacked elsewhere and in specific industry segments (CPG, Auto, Retail). And given the white hot evolution of consumer internet devices and technology, we are seeing adoption outstrip supply – that is: consumers are more facile and adept, expect more, and therefore, the future may already be alive and kicking in the present.
We unveiled two of these trends at Advertising Week in September: Value Me and Enhancing the Real. Today at ad:tech, I’ll be reprising those two trends and adding two more: IntelligentlyOn and the Age of Serendipity. I’ll also be digging into a ‘meta trend’ we find incredibly interesting and highly relevant to marketers today: these trends tend to skew into what we refer to as ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ buckets, where the ‘left brain’ has to do with analytical, data-driven trends; the ‘right brain’ ones are more emotive, experiential, having more to do with how people feel and engage. So we will increasingly be unpacking these trends in pair-wise combinations.
Here are some details:
Two of the trends I’ll reference today are logical and data-driven (Value Me and IntelligentlyOn). The other two trends are more emotive, experiential and creative (Enhancing the Real and The Age of Serendipity). Not unlike the art and science of advertising, we like to think that these pairings reflect whole brain—both right and left brain—experiences. In pop psychology, this theory is known as the lateralization of brain function. It asserts that the left brain is where we are logical, analytical and objective. By contrast, the right brain supports intuition, creativity and subjectivity. Most of us think of ourselves as having strengths in one area or the other, e.g., I’m logical, I like numbers, I’m left-brained.
But, as we’ve discovered in the many research studies we conduct with consumers, most of us aren’t one or the other; we’re both. And importantly for marketers, we leverage both when we make decisions about buying products or services. Our consumer decision journey research, for example, shows that consumers don’t use only reason or only emotion when making decisions. There’s typically an interplay between them. And that interplay shows up through varying consumer signals at different points in their decision journey. Sometimes they want information—just the facts. Other times, they want to be inspired.
The challenge for marketers is in capturing that interplay and feeding back information—whether it’s logical, informational or more emotive and inspirational in nature—to the consumer at the right time and place in order to facilitate her decision-making process.
Our new digital trends can help identify how to use data to deliver more immersive, intuitive and valuable experiences to consumers.
For example, with increasingly blurred boundaries between digital and non-digital worlds, people are seeking more intelligent relationships with technology—we call this IntelligentlyOn. We want intuitive ‘off’ modes that don’t require action, but that can be fully trusted; we want technology that disappears, but that doesn’t disconnect. In short, we want technology that’s on in the right way, and by ‘right’ we mean responsive to our needs in the moment.Not hyper-responsive, not intrusive, and not constraining, but in the right way and at the right time.
Why do we want this?
Because we’ve entered the Age of Serendipity. While in the marketing world, we may feel like it’s all programmatic all the time, consumers want encounters that surprise, challenge and enhance opportunities for discovery. In other words, we’re not ready to abandon our right brains. The Age of Serendipity is about receiving something at the right time and place, and in the right frame of mind. Give consumers a pleasant surprise and they’re more likely to build a long-term relationship with you. 50% of consumers are interested in using products and services designed to surprise and delight them, such as Xbox Music, Spotify or Pandora—all services that serve up new music and artists based on consumers’ individual preferences.
This is a rich conversation that is in fact best as a conversation. So I welcome you to respond to this post, and engage with us as we co-create solutions catalyzed by these patterns of consumer adoption. For us, this is the next leg of the journey toward digital transformation – starting not from industry patterns and products/services that we’d like to sell, but instead, from deep desires, goals, needs and habits of people as they live their lives – at work, at home, and on-the-go.
For the near term, the key takeaways that I’d like to leave with marketers from my discussion at ad:tech include:
· Create ‘whole brain’ experiences that align the logical with the emotive
· Give consumers more control over their data, and they will give greater permission for marketing interaction – as long as they receive value in exchange. And value exchange can start with a better experience: one that gives the consumer more of what she wants, less of what she doesn’t.
· Leverage technology to channel consumers’ natural intention– versus focusing on more classic ‘attention marketing.’ And use this intent to shape experiences that feel serendipitous
· Move faster to future-proof your strategy… many of these trends are not future forecasts about the future but reflections of current and therefore underserved demand.
This research is just the beginning for us at Microsoft as we continue to bring marketers insights and digital marketing solutions that truly connect consumers as we try to better understand whyall of us make the decisions we do – about what we buy and how we spend our time.
For more insights like these and a deeper look into these trends, please visit our Insights Library hereor come up to me and chat after I speak today at 2:15 pm at ad:tech!