As the hashtag in the title may suggest, I went on a digital course the other day. As one does these days. The course started with the speaker asking us all to list the various social media platforms. One of the many that came up was Snapchat. Another app to add to the six you already have on your phone for chatting to people. Except with this one the conversation disappears after a brief moment.
As the speaker pointed out, in social media, this was probably the closest thing you can get to a "real" conversation. When we talk to people, and I mean with our mouths forming the words not our fingers, those words aren't frozen in time on a screen. So this app is quite literally mimicking verbal, real time conversations. Messaging made more instant than ever.
This got me thinking. Advertising, or at least good advertising, has always been about creating and polishing a great piece of work. This usually takes a while. And when it's finally ready, that great piece of work airs, flights or is printed somewhere. If it's good enough it will hopefully spark a conversation. Then it's over and we start again, working on what will hopefully be the next great piece of work.
The thing is, today we can't really afford the time it takes to develop the next great piece of work. The world is now so connected the conversation never stops. And we're competing for that conversation like never before. It's one of the reasons the line between PR and advertising is more blurred these days. With well over half the planet's population using the internet there is more content out there than can possibly be consumed.
That fundamentally changes how people are exposed to advertising and, more importantly, how we make it. Today people choose what they want to watch. So to stand any chance of competing, not only do we need to be making conversation all the time, we need to be making better conversation if anyone's going to listen. And like Snapchat, perhaps those conversations don't always have to last that long. The challenge is to make stuff that's more interesting to more people and do it quicker than we used to.
As an industry that's either scary as hell, or opportunity knocking the door down. Probably both.
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