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Live Thinking: Rethinking Mass Media Principles

We live, breath and eat through our mobile devices. We call a taxi, reserve tables, buy groceries, order clothes and watch a movie-- and we do all of it on our phones. Our smartphones know who we are, where we are and what we did last week. But despite leading these digital lifestyles we as marketers still, for the most part, think in terms of "mass" when it comes to marketing:
We use online banners as if they were billboards
We create digital videos as if they were TV ads for a tiny screen
We write online articles like we would for print publications
We produce podcasts like a radio spot
Part of the challenge is that we are trying to apply mass media principles to digital. We are stuck with an old mass model - attention, interest, desire and action (AIDA) - to plan communications. But what we should really be using is an action driven model that's live, less intrusive and more in-line with today's interactive world. And we still think that stories need to have a beginning, middle and end just like a TV show or movie. But in a digital world, stories don't follow a sequential path and don't have an end. It's a live model after all.
A consumer's attention span today is too short to try to generate awareness without doing a massive investment in advertising - Think Geico. At best, you'll get two seconds of your audience's attention. People don't have the time or the patience to go through a long viewing journey. They also expect the content's message to be personalized to the moment that they are in or experiencing. And more importantly, consumers need to be able to interact with the content through their smartphones.
So what does this mean?
It means that banners should be used to advance a conversation that's happening at the very moment.
It means creating videos that allow people to interact with the story itself, allowing people to take the story with them and engage with it and take it wherever they want.
It means posting online articles that continuously evolve based on the latest news and the comments that people write.
In summary, digital thinking is live thinking. You need to react to the situation at the moment. It's conversation with engagement, where you might be surprised on the answers you get. It's about a never ending story that can go anywhere. More importantly, digital thinking is about being human and creating a human brand.


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