Digital communications and the forgotten user
The TL:DR version (Too Long: Didn't Read)
Firstly… when it comes to branded messaging, why the user has been left out of the conversation for so long - being forced to consume, rather than choosing to consume.
And secondly… in the ever-changing digital communications landscape, the brands that will win will be those that understand this problem and allow the power to shift back into the hands of the user by creating content they actually want and will actively seek out.
The GT:SI:WR version (Got Time: Sounds Interesting: Will Read)
Whether it be TfL tube strikes, Southern rail or online content, the user is being forgotten.
Because we don't have a choice.
If TfL puts up its ticket prices: we don't have a choice.
If transport unions go on strike over staff pay (it's always over pay...): we don't have a choice.
If brands drown out the audience with interruptive, unwanted communications: we don't have a choice.
The rise in the number of cyclists on London's roads is completely understandable.
As is the rise in consumer use of ad blockers.
We do what we can to fight back.
In the UK, several trade bodies exist to protect and promote advertisers and the agencies that represent them.
Standards on issues such as viewability, supported (and often created) by those organisations, are devised in the interests of the advertiser.
Having an ad that is 50% viewable for 3 seconds may be acceptable to the advertising community in their interest of counting 'a view' but is of no interest to the end user. (Even less so if it's an auto-playing video. And let’s not start talking about videos that auto-play with the sound on. Yes, they still do.)
Standardising a forced experience is counter-intuitive.
In the rare case that user-first elements are suggested, such as in the recent draft ad unit portfolio from the IAB, they are often un-enforceable and regularly ignored by the overwhelming percentage of advertisers and publishers across the web.
Its the same in the world of content marketing. We are being bombarded by so much messaging in the name of 'content' that we cannot possibly consume it all.
So who is fighting in the user's corner?
What we need is the ability to choose what it is that we want to engage with, when we want to engage with it, and on which platforms we want to engage, not to be interrupted or forced to consume anything we haven't asked for.
Those brands that recognise that, and adapt their content accordingly, will be the ones that have the most loyal and passionate customers, that come back time and time again.
We believe that the user should be front and centre in any communications related conversation and that, to date, particularly at this time where we are all drowning in a sea of branded messaging, the user has largely been overlooked, ignored and forgotten.
So, stand by... because it is time to be more vocal about this subject; about the changing nature of content consumption, what this means for brands and how the user is taking back control.
Oh, and we're launching the IUB - the Internet User's Bureau.
Power to the people.
More to follow.
Do join the conversation - we'd love to hear from you.