Two stories define the future of marketing. On the one hand, we have the growing distrust and apathy towards a model of online advertising that works by distraction and accumulation, in which many ads lay claim to whatever screen real estate not allotted purely to the user's experience. Users are tuning out banner ads, becoming annoyed by seeing the same exchange ads following them around the web, and from device to device, and they are training themselves to narrow their user experience in a way that separates the signal from the noise.
On the other hand we have the story of big data, which rises heroically as the salvation for online marketing. Unfortunately, despite the enormous value proposition of big data, users are often unaware what data is being collected and how it benefits them. Instead, when they do hear about big data it sets up a "creepy valley" scenario, defined by horror stories of stalker-friendly graph searches or inappropriate and out-of-context advertising. Again, consumers lose faith in the value of marketing. What if this is the death of advertising as we know it?
The solution is a form of marketing I'm going to call invitational marketing which is defined by three elements:
• Seamless experience - the marketing campaign is integrated with the experience itself, operating through direct engagement rather than distraction
• Imminent value - the marketing campaign provides value that relates to the extant user experience
• Self-determination - the marketing experience celebrates greater levels of transparency and information such that consumers better understand the value proposition of the advertisement
The industry has a choice to make, and the consequences could not be more profound for the future. Consumers, increasingly expecting beautiful, integrated experiences, are becoming more discerning and selective consumers of information, and that discernment means that advertising is becoming less valuable, and less effective, over time. At the same time, they are using more devices, generating more data, and making it possible for marketers to deliver ads that provide real value to users, if only those users trust us to do so.
But it's clear that no one organisation can make this happen - we all need to work together to grab hold of that future, a world of Invitational Marketing where the consumers _want_ to be engaged by brands and help to shape it, to create the next generation of online marketing--one that is authentically digital. It will be better for consumers, and it will be better for us.
Watch more at my AdWeek session here: http://dai.ly/YWM6hl.