Digital technology is making our world an impatient place. Digital signals can travel at the speed of light, and so we expect digital delight at the same speed.
In a world where instant gratification takes too long, we’re all live streaming, periscoping, meerkatting, fast shipping, multi-tasking, speed dating, selfie snapping, hashtagging, geo-tagging, time shifting, heartbeat tracking, paycheck checking, Netflixing, home automating, instant messaging, Instagramming, we-chatting, yik-yakking, live blogging, YouTubing, WhatsApping, Snapchatting…It’s exhausting, but we’re 'Generation Now': We want it all and we want it now as we ‘Carpe’ the tech out of ‘Diem’.
When we look at this effect that digital is having on our lives, we realise that it’s less about the ‘New Economy’ and more about the ‘Now Economy’. Digital both makes us impatient, and solves our impatience. And it’s why ‘convenience tech’ has become the new black in Silicon Valley, delivering instant gratification and saving that most precious commodity of all, time.
For marketers, today’s ‘Cult of Now’ means that real-time is the new prime-time. When only the current has currency, brands need to live in the ‘Now’. This means doing things differently.
Most importantly, we need to change how we do marketing, moving from an old ‘batch-processing’ model to a real-time model.
Batch processing may have been fine in yesteryear’s world of broadcast mass media where media schedules ruled the airwaves and our lives. But in today’s world of on-demand digital media, batch marketing is as useless as a cathode ray tube in a tablet screen. As with computing, the future of marketing lies not in batch processing but in real-time processing.
A popular solution for delivering marketing magic in the Now Economy has been to dust off defunct social media departments and rebrand what they do as real-time content marketing. The sell is simple. Social media is real-time media and so to reach audiences in real-time, use real-time social media. How? Simple again. Use the tried and tested PR technique of ‘newsjacking’; hi-jacking live news, sports and celebrity stories with entertaining branded commentary.
Done right, real-time newsjacking delivers positive publicity for a brand on social media and beyond. Last year’s ‘Billion Dollar Tweet’ at the 2014 Academy Awards is a case in point. Samsung reaped rewards as host Ellen DeGeneres prominently showed off her white Samsung smartphone during the live broadcast to 43m viewers. Picking top stars, DeGeneres challenged them to gather around her Samsung device and snap a group selfie that would break the record for the world’s most re-tweeted image.
And it worked. The Samsung selfie stunt scored nearly 3.5 million retweets, the most ever, garnering 32.8 million impressions within the first 24 hours. And the story was widely picked up by news media.
Maurice Levy, CEO of Samsung’s agency Publicis, valued the overall publicity at $1bn. Of course, how much a retweet or a media mention is worth is up for debate. Nevertheless, Samsung showed how to get realtime value out of a sponsorship deal.
Remember Minority Report? The Hollywood movie showcased a future where ads would follow us around in real-time. It’s happening today, and it’s another way marketers can win big in the Now Economy. Location-based surveillance technology such as iBeacon can track us in real-time and ping ads to our mobile devices as we pass by.
Similar real-time surveillance tech means billboard ads can adapt as we walk by in the same way. For example, the British Airways ‘Look Up’ digital billboard features a boy who points to real-world BA planes as they fly overhead in the sky. Through real-time programmatic bidding and real-time ‘retargeting’, advertisers are optimising both the efficiency and effectiveness of their online ad budgets.
But it’s perhaps a third digital approach to delivering the ‘Wow of Now’ that is most exciting. And that is digital innovation. Connected mobile technology is giving marketers an unprecedented opportunity to service people’s needs at their precise point and place of need.
Uber is the disruptive innovator of record here, leading the charge on the digital transformation of taxi and delivery services. Uber is a new framework for winning in the Now Economy with innovative ondemand mobile services that deliver instant gratification.
Today, there’s an Uber for everything. Touch screen, get service. Now. Through Uber-style services, marketers are putting the ‘now’ into marketing know-how.
The Wow of Now
It is through this kind of digital innovation that marketers can deliver the real ‘Wow of Now’. By digitally enhancing products and services, we can offer the Now Generation what it wants; instant gratification and immediate satisfaction.
Real marketing is as much about creating and delivering value as communicating it. As digital marketers, we are in the value-creation and value-delivery business. And through on-demand digital technology, we are uniquely placed to deliver delight for the Now Economy.
In today’s Now Economy, this original real-time vision of marketing as a service has never held so much transformative promise and potential. And our first step is easy. As marketers, we will begin to own the Wow of Now when we place a single simple question at the heart of everything we do - ‘How can we help you, right here, right now?
By Paul Marsden, consumer psychologist at SYZYGY Group.
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