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Why the consumer gravity effect should be a constant force for your marketing

To achieve success in today’s market, advertisers and publishers must consider consumer gravity’s impact on digital strategy. 

We’ve seen a number of new digital consumer facing products with torrid growth over the last few years, leaving their legacy competition in the dust.

Increased adoption of these technologies is happening largely because of two phenomena: the social affect and audience-first product design. The social affect is consumers’ ability to share their experiences with others, whether good or bad, thus increasing word of mouth marketing and awareness.

Audience-first product designs are digital platforms that are specifically designed with the consumer in mind. For instance, Netflix was built to deliver a better, more relevant content experience. Likewise, Roku’s user experience (UX) was designed to simplify the engagement and reduce the friction for discovering content. Uber flipped the taxi model by focusing on the pain points of the consumer and tapping into the mindset of millennials to elevate the transportation experience with clean and timely cars.

These are just a few examples of companies that have gone from unknown to the number one in an extremely short amount of time, because they put the consumer first. They created a sense of gravity around everything consumers do – from the product design, to the marketing choices, metrics tracked, and even the advertising – or lack thereof – allowed on their respective platforms.

The direct to product approach is an obvious place where companies should create or, at the very least, understand that consumer gravity is real. If you don’t pay close attention to the consumer and their needs, your product will flail in the wind and likely blow away to never be seen again.

Consumer gravity is a constant force that should influence every decision made. Therefore, we need to start thinking about how consumer gravity impacts business in a marketing and B2B context.

In some areas it may not be so obvious. So let me share a few examples that can help guide how consumer gravity can be used to reshape business and product decisions.

1. TV transformation

We all know TV is in denial. Everyone within the industry is high-fiving today because of the best scatter market in probably five years. However, upfronts were down in 2015, and they are likely to be impacted again this year. Why is it that clients aren’t willing to commit any upfront spend, but they are still getting the “best deal” with a willingness to pay more – some say as much as 15 percent more – in scatter market to get what they want? My suspicion is consumer gravity.

Many large marketers are starting to realize they can’t take the same approach to reaching consumers as they did five years ago. Rather, they need to constantly refine their media mix to best engage consumers and use more data to influence what consumers like and don’t like.

Today’s marketers need better real-time solutions to modify how, when, and where they broadcast their message. However, planning this type of marketing experience is very hard to do a year in advance, considering the world seems to be changing on a quarterly basis.

2. Advertising experience

For the last 15 years, publishers (and complacent advertisers) have allowed for greed and ignorance to infest their homes, by pretending that content was the only king. Operating under the assumption that pushing content was good for audiences and even better for advertisers, they would generate content, buy traffic, and load webpages with dozens of ads. This would inundate consumers with distracting, flashy advertising experiences.

Clearly, we now know that this is actually not ideal for consumers. In response to this realization, consumer gravity has taken over in the form of ad blocking, banner blindness, lower engagement, and premium apps that offer zero ad experiences. All of this reduces the reach of marketers and leaves publishers wondering how they will maintain their revenue streams.

Publishers able to avoid or reduce the impact of consumer gravity did so by building highly engaging experiences with tastefully integrated advertising. They worked hard to use what they knew about their audiences to program entire experiences in ways that were mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Some good examples include Hulu, Yahoo Mobile, TruTV, and Spotify.

3. Measurement

We’ve had a standard measurement currency in TV for over 40 years, and a similar standard of measurement currency in digital for almost 20 years. But, like everything else we’ve discussed, there are challenges in measurement today.

The fracture and fragmentation of devices, formats, networks, publishers, and experiences has left measurement in a very broken state. There is data spewing out from every device used to consume content and advertising. It needs to be harnessed more effectively in a way that is more oriented around the consumer.

Audiences can no longer be measured in silos, standardized segments, or dayparts. Rather, we need to leverage consumer gravity to understand how audiences cluster naturally. Then we can use this information to measure how audiences move within and between platforms and assess engagement rates with both editorial and ad content.

Understanding consumer behavior within the context of these more purpose oriented segments will unlock more value for marketers and provide better advertising experiences for clients. Doing this is a tall order, but its impact on performance and satisfaction is enough of an incentive.

To sum up

Think about how consumer gravity influences your business, clients, and the way you organize your products and services. Don’t be afraid to make decisions that are good for consumers. Be aware that while some decisions will be straightforward epiphanies, others will potentially be a struggle, as they break the status quo. But fear not – you will be very happy about how beneficial a consumer-first strategy truly is, once you see the long term results.

by Larry Allen