Highly Evolved: Brand Survival in the Now! Economy

Software may be eating everything. But one thing that I’ve seen at Advertising Week Europe today is that we’re learning to adapt to these changes with zeal. This morning, Trevor Beattie announced the death of the thirty second advert, advocating a culture of five second segments instead.

In the midst of the sea of white noise we are bombarded with on a daily basis, we have learned to select what is vital – or at least pleasurable – in as few as two seconds.

Beattie couldn’t have asked for a better example when wishing to show how our perception of time has changed: when Beattie made his cue for silence, a slightly zealous engineer let the film start rolling instead. To one engineer, thirty seconds was an eternity before it had even begun.

The Now! Economy celebrates breadth and speed over depth and endurance, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the world of advertising. Ad Land needs to adapt, and visionaries like Beattie are leading the way with their rallying cries.

The world of traditional broadcast media is changing, and we must embrace the chaos left in the wake of change and use it as an opportunity to innovate and introduce creative evolutionary solutions.

What is clear is that a more human approach to the medium is needed. Jargon turns craft into content and people into consumers, forgetting the instincts that drive us as human beings and causing cynicism and disengagement on both sides.

At the WIRED talk this morning, Paul Adams, Head of Brand Design at Facebook, made the observation that the best relationships are developed through a series of small, recurring interactions between people rather than grand gestures. We are moving away from the 15 seconds of fame model back towards a modern incarnation of the ‘quality over quantity’ ideal – or at least that’s what will be required of brands who wish to distinguish themselves from the deluge of faceless information out there.

Data is dead: targeted information can only engage people if it is somehow made useful. The value of most data is ephemeral at best, and will never reveal peoples’ intentions. Understanding and relationships can only be built by asking the right questions. The much-maligned crowd knows this, and has reacted with instinctive aversion to the condescension of the media machine.

Being liked is all too easy these days. Brands who want to make an impact will have to focus on wanting to be loved, requiring sincerity, clarity and genuine engagement.

If there’s one thing Advertising Week Europe has, it’s engagement with its crowd: the queues have trailed right down Piccadilly and onto Regent Street and the demand for events has been spectacular. I have a great feeling about the rest of the week.

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