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Attention 2016: Insights from eMarketer’s Conference

eMarketer recently hosted their annual Attention! 2016 conference in which they explored the core challenges facing marketers today. In the daylong event, data-driven speakers, digital marketing thought leaders, and innovators gathered together to discuss the changing media landscape and how consumers are navigating it. With a focus on data and some top brands and publishers like Starbucks, Facebook & NowThis sharing their perspectives on the new ecosystem, the event was a memorable one. Read on below to see some of our biggest takeaways from this digital marketing conference.

Our Fragmented Landscape

For the past few years, marketers have been observing and discussing the fragmented consumer journey, and this year is no exception. As new distribution channels emerge, such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories, the rise of these technologies only continues to prove the importance of a mobile-first mentality in marketing. Co-founder & Chief Innovation Officer at eMarketer, Geoff Ramsey, opened this year’s event by speaking about the state of the industry’s landscape, and couldn’t help but point out all the signs mandating the prioritization of mobile experiences.

This year alone, the average amount of time spent on different types of media per day was 12 hours. And mobile, of course, is the most common medium consumed, with people checking their phones an average of 46 times per day. Additionally, a quarter of millennials check their phones over 10 times per hour, and even these devices are fragmented into categories competing for our attention, such as email, games, messenger apps, and more. So, with an increased amount time on phones and a decreasing attention span (we officially have an attention span lower than goldfish), how can marketers reach their intended audiences?

Ramsey pointed out the only way to move forward in this fragmented landscape is to understand the “attention equation.”

Attention = Right Time + Right Place + Value

None of these variables can or should exist without the other. The right time provides context, while the right place inevitably provides the right audience, and value, of course, is needed to drive interest and attention in said audience. Content that is engaging and dynamic, served at the right time and location, will unsurprisingly perform better with consumers by adding the value they want and need in their marketing experiences. But, this is just one piece of the puzzle needed to succeed as a marketer in our collective future.

The Impact of Social Influence

Soon after the opening of the event, we heard from Jonah Berger, professor at the Wharton School of Business and author of his most recent publication, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Behavior. In this book he discusses the importance of human influence in our everyday choices. While many of us like to think we are autonomous in making life decisions, Berger explains the psychology and social science behind what makes humans, and consumers, conform to certain ideas and diverge from others. Through explaining how the science of influence works, it allows us to better recognize, as individuals and marketers, when to embrace certain trends and resist others.

Keeping this idea in mind, at Olapic, we too have seen the impact social influence can have on consumers and their purchase choices. Arming brands with the technology to collect, curate, analyze and activate consumer-generated content across their marketing channels is what we do best, and it makes sense that marketers are seeing results when using earned content created by fans on their behalf. Customers trust other buyers more than they trust branded advertising, which drives home the idea that social influence, whether overt or covert, can play a big part in one’s buying decisions. Your brand’s customers seek to understand from their peers what a product or experience is like, and through supplementing your marketing with engaging consumer content, your brand can increase its chance of delighting and inspiring its customers to take action with an increased sense of authenticity.

Professor Berger also broke down the key drivers of influence in his talk, as seen below:

  • Imitation: We subconsciously mimic the behaviors of those around us, which creates a level of trust, affiliation, and a sense of community.
  • Differentiation: As humans, we also have a drive to be different from one another and stand-out for what makes use unique – a quality that especially strong among Millennials. That said, there is potential to be too different, which is why Berger suggests that if a brand wants to stands out, it must be optimally different, meaning it has the right kind of differentiation in its products & marketing.
  • Motivation: In order to reach any brand or marketer’s goal, consumers need to be motivated to take an action. This happens through creating the right messages, imagery, videos, and more, to drive decision-making. The further away humans get from a goal, the less likely they are to take an action, therefore brands should always create a sense of urgency or motivation to drive their customers.

Social influence isn’t all about changing humans’ behaviors though. Instead, it is about creating marketing messages and content that enforce certain behaviors in customers. Therefore, it is imperative that as marketers we recognize the important role social influence plays in consumer behavior, and leverage this theory to create more relevant and connected marketing experiences.

The Future is Video

Last but not least, Facebook’s Head of Global Product for their Global Marketing Solutions business, Matthew Corbin, spoke about the company’s upcoming priorities for the year. Judging by the state of most of our newsfeeds, it comes as little surprise to hear that Facebook is all about video and its future. Mentioning that one day soon we will likely have newsfeeds filled with video content, exclusively.

This development makes sense when we now consume information at a much higher rate than we did even five years ago, with adults ages 18-25 years-old scrolling up to 5x faster than adults 34-years-old or higher. Knowing that video plays a major role in helping users consume more information at an increasing rate, this behavior also highlights the importance that mobile devices play in the equation. Facebook not only recognized the video trend early, but worked tirelessly to innovate around it and disrupt the space with its introduction of Facebook Live. This poses an additional channel through which not only brands can communicate, but consumers can create live content. While the company may not yet be seen as a broadcaster, it just beginning to disrupt the industry. If brands are going to continue to grab consumers’ attention, Corbin emphasized, they must reach them where they are now and where they are going to be in the future.

While the above is only a small piece of the larger marketing strategy puzzle, Attention! 2016 offered key insights that marketers must keep in the forefront their minds when planning for 2017. Acknowledging the increasingly fragmented landscape in which we function, the power of social influence on our audiences, and the meteoric rise of video, are all lessons that will allow marketers to not fall short as technology proliferates and consumers narrowly define what they want from brands. We hope you learned just as much as we did at this event, and look forward to seeing you next year!


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