Seth Hillstrom (SH):

Marketers…are you listening to your consumers or just waiting to speak? In today’s noisy marketplace, I think we’re often guilty of the latter.  Beverage Marketing Association has brought in Shachar (Shock) Torem to look at just this. Shock is Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of adjoy – a company helping cpg/beverage brands understand and engage with consumers in ways that drive results  I’m going to pick his brain, and please feel free to join us and share thoughts of your own.  Shock, thank you kindly for chatting with us this morning!

 

Shachar (Shock) Torem (ST):

Thanks for having me Seth.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

 

SH:

1.) I know you have a lot of thoughts on the idea of mutually beneficial conversations as opposed to one-sided brand monologues. How would you define these and how might you advise brands to start thinking about their conversation strategy?

ST:

The idea of a conversation with the consumer is not something revolutionary.  The challenge for marketers is being able to do that authentically, in a current reality where consumers are empowered by technology literally at their fingertips, and can shut you down if they so choose.  Brands have facilitated consumer conversations for a long time and there are many effective traditional tactics ranging from focus groups to CRM initiatives.  By definition, those require a willing and engaged consumer.  When we refer to monologues, the implication is that Advertising has inherently been a one-sided, brand initiated communication to the consumer.  Whether they were a willing participant or not, consumers have always been targeted based on the shows they watch, the websites they visit, the time of day, etc., Advertising has always been based on a push model whether it’s broadcast media, or billboards, or digital banner ads.

At Adjoy, we believe that Advertising, especially in this day and age of consumer empowerment, should not be one sided.  For it to be truly effective, there needs to be reciprocity between the Advertiser and the Consumer with respect to the value of time and attention that Advertisers require from a Consumer to deliver their brand message.

 

SH:

That trust (or lack of it) between consumer and advertiser seems to be at the very core of where we’ve gone astray in trying to tell some of our brands’ stories. In what ways to you think brands can value consumers’ time and attention effectively, and hopefully improve the relationship when messaging/storytelling?

 

ST:

I agree that the element of trust is critical to any relationship, whether it’s between brands and consumers, but also between advertisers and their publishers. Trust is a variable that is the foundation of any healthy relationship and when that’s broken, the relationship begins to deteriorate. The reason advertising is broken today is because trust has been compromised on many levels. Consumers are keenly aware and don’t like the fact that their on-line behavior is being tracked and used against them – at least that’s their mentality. Advertisers have also become more aware of some of the inefficiencies in the digital media supply chain and no longer trust the system or many of their partners. It’s not a healthy dynamic for sure and it must be addressed.

The answer lies in introducing the same variables into the Advertiser-Consumer relationship that exist in the healthiest human relationships – transparency, mutual benefit, and choice.

 

SH:

I really like that – though I think that last one, choice, is both the most important and the hardest for marketers and publishers to wrestle with. People must CHOSE to listen, you can’t make them. How have your experiences reconciled against this notion?

 

ST:

You can’t and you won’t, especially in this day and age. Whether it’s ad blocker proliferation or ad free subscription content or digital banner blindness, today’s reality is that if a consumer chooses not to see your ad, they won’t.  It’s not that consumers hate advertising. There’s a lot of great content out there. It’s that they dislike the way it’s being delivered to them. They have become desensitized to brand messaging more than ever before, and are even willing to pay NOT to be exposed to advertisements.  That’s simply the by product of a delivery model that serves publisher interests more than the target consumer of the intended brand message.

I believe that providing consumer choice is critical for brands is to engage the consumer in a manner that drives brand awareness and purchase intent.  And what I mean by choice is allowing the consumer to decide which brands they want to hear from, as well as how and when.  I recently attended a tradeshow and I can’t tell you how many solution providers spoke about how they have the ability to deliver “the right message to the right consumer at the right time” on behalf of their brand partners.  It was crazy to me – these were all different companies with different solutions but they all sounded the same!  The inherent flaw in those solutions is the presumption that it’s the Advertiser or their channel partner that knows what’s best for the consumer.  They are the ones deciding who to target and how to reach a particular audience, and the consumer has zero voice in that calculus.  This is an old school, push model mentality.  The ultimate decider on whether a brand is relevant for me should be, well, ME!

 

SH:

3.) Between a lack of faith in advertising (from consumers), the deteriorating relationships between advertisers and publishers you’re referring to, and the exponential increase in noise…it’s pretty challenging out there for even the most clever of marketers. What challenges do you think will continue to persist and prove to be the most relevant over the next 5-10 years?

 

ST:

The world’s biggest most iconic brands were built on a broadcast media model that no longer exists. Today, it’s harder for these brands than ever before to retrench their brand equity and hold onto market share.  And it’s just as hard for newer brands to break through that clutter and build their own niche in this age of consumer empowerment.  I think the biggest challenge for the industry lies in recognizing that Advertising needs to respect a consumer’s time and attention.   We see a lot of solutions today that marry data and technology in very powerful ways to target consumers.  But the question marketers should be asking is: “Is this OK with my consumer?”  Are the delivery channels we utilize to communicate our brand message doing it respectfully and in a manner that facilitates an authentic and sustainable relationship with the consumer, or is it inherently one sided – which ultimately is ineffective.

 

SH:

“The world’s biggest brands were built on a broadcast media model that no longer exists” There’s a pull quote that has me saying “YES!” …So how do we change this and make it more effective?

 

ST:

Ha! Thanks Seth. Change is hard. Especially in a decades old, multi billion dollar industry that has actually in large part served all its constituents very well over time. But times change, and the ultimate decider on the ability of any product or industry to deliver on their promise is and always has been the consumer. And the harsh reality is that consumers believe that advertising is not delivering today. We will always need media channels to drive awareness of our wonderful brands, but the industry model needs to evolve to one which enables consumers to become part of the supply chain. Only then will they be truly receptive to brand messaging.  It’s why we are seeing more and more solutions that are introducing concepts such as permission based marketing, interactive media, and value exchange.   Ultimately, the answer lies in a mind shift that advertising must be a two way conversation with mutual benefit to all parties.

SH:

Well said! Okay, final question coming!

4.) Considering the challenges we’ve talked about, and the ideas you’ve laid out for being a consumer companion rather than nuisance…Where do you see brand/consumer relationships going from here? Is there a turning of tides here that will likely see this relationship evolve pretty drastically?

 

ST:

There absolutely is and it’s happening right now.  When ad blocking software installs are nearing 100 million devices in the U.S. alone, that’s a statement. When P&G publicly announces a $140 million pull back in digital advertising spend, that’s a statement.  Both Advertisers and Consumers are clearly unhappy with the state of digital media today, and they are speaking loud and clear with their pocketbooks.  And that’s OK.  These are necessary progressions to drive real transformation not just to the industry, but also to the Brand-Consumer relationship.  It MUST happen or nobody wins.  I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for the advertising industry and for consumers.  Great companies will continue to build and introduce great brands into the marketplace.  There will always be a need to educate consumers about these products and benefits that can enrich their daily life.  There is an equal need for new and viable media alternatives that brands can utilize to deliver their brand message in a way that is authentic and non-intrusive to the consumer.

 

SH:

Today, I think our audience won a little too! I deeply agree with the idea that marketers…and people in general…need to remember that everyone (and their time) has just as much value as they do, and they need to be respected. Your ideas/messages/products do not supersede that in any way. Regardless of spend.

Thanks so much Shock, these are extremely valuable insights and we’re really excited to see you at eBev next week in Las Vegas! If you’d like to hear more, Shock is actually hosting a discussion at the meeting. If you’re attending eBev and you’d like to participate in Shock’s discussion, just drop me a note.

 

ST:

Thank you Seth for the opportunity and for your continued partnership!. I hope your followers who chose to read this, found it to be a productive allocation of their valuable time!

 

 

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