As recently as a decade ago, our job as advertisers was fairly simple: All we had to do was identify an audience, then bombard it with a consistent message through the limited forms of mass media that were available.
By pounding home a mantra like “Why buy a mattress anywhere else?” in broadcast, print, direct mail and those newfangled online banner ads, we could connect with thousands of people who were thinking about buying a new mattress. Even at the expense of reaching millions who weren’t.
Our measuring stick was “Cost Per Thousand” or CPM. The goal was to capture the greatest number of people for the least amount of media expenditure—then bank on the fact that some of them would come to your store to make a purchase.
That was then, but this is now:
The mass market we once reached through the CPM formula has splintered into thousands of micro audiences. Shoppers increasingly live in the virtual world of their social media communities. They have more control over the messages they receive—and they have little patience for irrelevant messages from uninvited guests.
However, they do welcome useful content, personally delivered, at the moment when it matters.
Yes, they want to hear about your mattress, but only when they are shopping for one. Nor will they buy on blind faith. They rely heavily on product reviews and recommendations from their trusted social network. Plus they’ll most likely order it online without ever interacting with a salesperson.
General advertising still matters and CPM still has its place. But marketers also need to think about “CP You”—the skillful use of data and technology that can pinpoint an audience of one, then deliver personalized, relevant content at the exact moment he or she is considering a purchase.
Science fiction? Hardly. Marketers are using big data right now to monitor your online and social behavior. They can predict when you are thinking about buying a mattress. And they are slipping the message to you in a seamless, non-interruptive way through a one-on-one digital dialog.
That’s why the futurists at Deloitte predict that within three years 45% of all media expenditures in North America will be in the social and mobile arenas.
It’s a seismic change on the media landscape that’s prompting a frantic race to figure out best practices and new technology. It’s keeping a lot of us marketers awake at night, as we lie on their mattresses.