Killer Content: Does Information Overload Mean the Death of Adverts?

The amount of information at our disposal online is now immeasurable, creating new challenges for marketers competing for attention. But as Joel Christie, commercial director at Rocket Fuel, explains there is an intelligent way to make personal customer connections in a world where ‘cut through’ seems impossible.

If the internet were a person, it would be Brian Blessed with a megaphone – rather loud! It’s a busy place where pages change in milliseconds, articles come and go at the speed of light, and vital clicks are decided in a heartbeat. To help grasp the vastness of online information, it’s predicted that more data will be created in 2017 than the previous 5,000 years of humanity. That’s a lot for the average person to comprehend, let alone watch or read, making it more difficult than ever for brands to get the cut through they want. Welcome to the ‘attention economy’ – a world in which consumer focus is the (increasingly scarce) commodity.

The channel hop challenge

It’s hardly surprising that 41% of people (and 33% of millennials) claim to feel overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of choice on the internet, preferring friends’ recommendations on social media rather than searching for content and products themselves. There is tonnes available in an instant; and today’s restless consumers want to know that if they’re investing time watching or reading something, it’s going to be worth it. One study showed that digital natives (those born in 1990 or later) switched media platforms on average 27 times per hour – that’s about every other minute. Those born before 1990 switched 17 times per hour on average, which translates to a 30% decrease in attention span.

The brand battle

Trying to win the elusive attention of your audience is nothing new for marketers. But today, there is such volume of content and consumer messages available in one place that advertising risks getting pushed to the side or buried under mountains of other content. For brands that want to reach audiences at the perfect moment, and delight rather than annoy them, personalisation and relevance is now crucial. It is the only way to ensure ads are seen and not swallowed by an ocean of info.

Where many fall down is the reluctance to accept there are new, more technologically advanced ways to reach and connect with audiences online. In a recent Forrester study, commissioned by Rocket Fuel, only 30% of senior marketers said they use their data to understand the needs of their customer. In addition, 63% of those surveyed said they find it difficult to personalise adverts due to a lack of insights. This has to change if brands want to reach individuals at the precise moment they are ready to respond to an ad, deliver the right message wherever consumers might be on their journey, and stay ahead of competitors.

The intelligent answer

In today’s crowded online world, the only way to achieve this kind of reach, visibility, and connectivity is with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). It is not optional. The tech allows brands and marketers to identify the behavioural patterns of their consumers before searching the internet for near-infinite new customers who share similar characteristics, at speed and scale. When customers are so easily distracted, technology that learns the moments users are most likely to respond is essential. We call this Predictive Marketing – the concept of organising oceans of data then using it to pick the moments that matter for brands and consumers.

Of course, for ads to resonate, we need to do more than simply serve an ad at the right time. Fortunately, we can take a step further with ‘dynamic creative’, intelligent automation that creates up to 36 ad sizes and formats, covering every major device without the need for human intervention. Like Predictive, it’s always on, 24/7, and delivering adverts in real time. The dynamic creative optimisation process picks out the product most likely to be successful, dropping it into the right ads, at the right time, for the right user. Thousands of times, every millisecond. This is impossible to do without machine learning, and it means people see something that interests them, at the right time – making them more likely to take the next step in the journey.

In the attention economy, we expect content to be personalised, but are still surprised when ads resonate. It’s bred a routine of wilful ignorance, which is why the brands that deliver messages to the right audience at the right time will have their customers doing a double take.

There’s no way to stem the flow of content. So, if you can’t beat it, join it, by making sure you’re delivering creative that connects at the precise moment your customer is ready to receive it. The result will be higher engagement, increased sales and, most importantly, the chance to be seen and heard above the noise.

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