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Opinion and Insight

The World is ‘Always On’. Are You?

Holler, 5 years, 2 months ago

Suddenly, a successful brand seems to be a reactive brand

The World is ‘Always On’. Are You?


Holler's James Kirkham will take to the stage next week at Dubai Lynx, where he will discuss the explosion of reactive advertising.
Responsive advertising communication has erupted from its previously dormant state. A combination of factors, including the raft of changes announced by Facebook, means social media has evolved to its next iteration, and smart marketers need to move with it.
The dominant global platform makes brands appear indistinguishable from your friends. Smart marketers therefore need to treat consumers in the same way that their nearest and dearest might – by being engaging, transparent, honest and able to communicate even more openly and regularly.
The introduction of real-time analysis means smart brands will be able to pass judgment on creative content pieces mere moments after speaking to their communities. Historically, the hard-working agency would have to wait a full three days to receive analytics against their postings on a page or their new creative idea. Compressing this to real-time rolling judgments means that instant marketing is the order of the day in a world switched to ‘Always On’.
This speed of response suddenly makes the old media model outdated and requires nimble teams who are able to create content experiences on the fly, jump on opportunities when they're spotted and back those hunches with real media money. If something works, it can be spotted, highlighted, pushed further and instantly given the oxygen of publicity – in a way never before possible.
We've entered another era where the opportunity is huge, as long as we can get past our fears. It means an agency at the heart of social and responsive advertising communications needs to to be in control and own the decision of what rises to the top of the social platform newsfeed, as this is the place where people become aware. It means the era of archaic, long-distance media planning and buying is over. There isn't the possibility of setting our hearts on a media buy through social in one year’s time, or even one month. Instead, we need to be so fleet of foot that media can be swapped out, changed, shifted and altered in a heartbeat. Those who can adapt to the breakneck speed will win the effectiveness wars and produce communications that properly resonate with the industry and beyond.
This is about how a brand can capitalise on the whim of the community or on an opportunity born out of a specific area of excitement, which is bubbling up in front of them. It means the brand can put actual media money behind initiatives too –so effectively backing their hunches or piloting mini social moments. Smart test-and-learn thinking, coupled with control of media and a genuine ability to listen, is the future of this communications pillar.
Beyond just written content, this is now about creating actual image-based content and delivering it in fragments of time that are markedly different to the content-generation cycles traditional advertising might adhere to. Images work particularly well in this newsroom culture, where we're able to create or tailor one-off reactive imagery minutes after an event or conversation has teed up the concept in the first place. In a way, it provides the opportunity to dive into the true routes of creative advertising all over again. This spotlight on smart, clever, contextual reactive 'advertising' will mean there is renewed emphasis on the witty one-liner, brilliant copy or incisive art direction. 
At holler, our approach is to segregate this opportunity into three key areas, each with a subtle difference and purpose. The Conversations Pot is where we get behind 'conversations' that are taking hold online – within our communities or beyond. It is about reacting to cultural cues or news stories, then working as part of a newsroom editorial team concurrently as events unfurl, to create a communication that is right for the moment. 
In The Response Lab Live, we build a creative template for the client to pre-approve, from which we can then craft multiple personalised assets and distribute to the community in real time, and in response to their participation or engagement. A particularly strong example of this is the Mercedes You Drive campaign, created to launch the new A-Class vehicle in the UK. AMV BBDO crafted a TV spot where you could choose your ending through casting your vote on Twitter. The Response Lab kicked in when anyone engaged with the hashtag, to give them a personalised movie style poster. This became true social currency as people spoke of their pleasure in receiving the artwork in their own social spheres.
Finally, there is the Social Open Letter. In this case, the agency or brand purposely creates a piece of content, seemingly intended for an individual but with the intention of community resonance. We address someone personally yet through the social platform. The most effective recent example is the hilarious Bodyform ‘The Truth’ spot put together by Carat.
There will, of course, be backlashes and brands getting it wrong. But the future of social media has already arrived, and we all need to be quick enough of mind and action to truly capture the moment.
James Kirkham, co-founder, holler.