August 31, 2019

by Hannah Nicholl

As I sat patiently through another irrelevant YouTube ad recently, I reflected on why so many ads fail to grab my attention or create a lasting impression. But in a world where marketers can create content for a few thousand dollars and ‘noise’ supersedes quality, why should they exercise caution? Everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t they?

Watching the ad I was reminded of the concept of “collective effervescence” or what is commonly called the ‘bandwagon effect’.

The effervescence or ‘fizziness’ on digital media is alluring and contagious. It seems to embolden the average marketer to jump in and experiment. They want to be adventurous – to create, disrupt and hopefully watch the virality of their ad spread like wildfire. The reach of the ad will then give the marketer the sense of having achieved salience.

The guiding spirit driving creators of digital content seems to be ‘hard sell’ and not what their audience will enjoy. Fundamentally, it overlooks the central question:  does the content engage, provoke the audience, is it brand appropriate or in line with the values and purpose of the brand? Are they evolving or devolving the brand narrative? Even from a short-term sales point of view, do we know whether being present and part of the noise ensures purchase intent or desirability?

When used the right way, investing in digital content can impact key advertising brand metrics and impact short sales as well as long term equity. While brands focus on targeting, we know that it is the quality of creative that drives conversion in digital media.

We recently tested a variety of campaigns from FMCG brands in APAC and found that 41% of the digital spends resulted in a negative ROI.  It appears that, in the digital space, not all publicity is good publicity, and low-performing content can cause great damage to brands.

The issue is compounded by the fact that digital eternalises and immortalizes branded content. Once out there, it is next to impossible to track, trace and retract content. The great campaigns from brands live on, but so do the goofs and bloopers. Bad content never goes unnoticed in an online eco-system.

So how should we master the skill of speed with quality content? Perhaps the digital evolution will mirror the evolution of consciousness, from a collective to individual identity. In this sense, marketers will begin to experiment more, create less and play through potential repercussions before they blast out content for fear of it coming back to haunt them.

As we navigate the labyrinthine digital world, with its demands on agility and disruption, we need to ask ourselves whether we are creating the ‘right’ kind of noise and brand impressions, or are we drowning in this effervescent melting pot?


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