Michael Maslansky, CEO, Maslansky Luntz + Partners
Alex wakes at 6:00 am every day to the sound of her free online music service. She has chosen to listen to a 15 second ad every 15 minutes instead of paying for the more expensive version. She hears one ad as she wakes and puts her gym clothes on. The ads are highly targeted to Alex’s identified interests and purchase habits. There aren’t many ads in rotation… she subconsciously knows them all by heart.
At the gym, Alex is greeted with a carefully selected onslaught of media. In the gym entrance, in the locker room, and around the equipment, there are screens broadcasting the gym’s own curated TV channel. It highlights content from a range of companies in the health and wellness space that have partnered with the gym to get access to its members and trusted status. Around the facility, Alex can sample and test the products up on the screens and earn bonus points at the gym’s loyalty program by sharing her experience on social media. Alex recently started using a new line of skin care products as a result of the in-gym samples.
As Alex jumps on a treadmill, she skips the broadcast channels and connects her mobile device to the treadmill screen. She watches as her finely-tuned stream of highly-curated information – about her friends, interests and the latest news – greets her. She easily jumps around to see linked videos and articles without breaking stride. And during her 30 minute workout, she has learned the latest news on her favorite topics, what her friends are up to, and has watched four videos: two news clips, a video blog post from a colleague and a video about a new product being launched by one of her favorite brands.
Alex leaves the gym with headphones on and mobile device in her hand. As she walks, she passes digital out-of-home bus station posters and billboards. The content changes by day- part and by location. It advertises local offers and branded campaigns. And Alex can easily tune into the digital billboard’s audio, and get more information or purchase the product with a few touchstrokes on her smartphone.
At work, Alex periodically checks in with her content dashboard. She has taken control of the content she receives at her desk. She rarely browses the open web anymore. Her content dashboard lets her fine-tune exactly what she wants – and doesn’t want – to see. She easily excludes brands and people that are annoying her. She gets more content from sources she reads most often and less from those that rarely get clicked. She finds that her stream is rich with relevant, interesting information that she wants to see. Though she gets access to premium content for free by accepting online ads, most don’t get her attention, her engagement or her trust.
On a typical weeknight, Alex will spend a few hours in front of multiple screens. With the exception of live events, her favorite shows are all on-demand in one form or another. She subscribes to a number of premium content channels, but also willingly accepts short 15- second ads instead of paying where possible. Otherwise, she rarely sees an advertising pod anymore.
While her favorite shows play, she has one eye on a separate screen. She is logged into one of the five different branded communities that she is compensated to participate in. This one, for one of her favorite designers, is hosting a design forum to talk about the latest trends in the market. Alex was targeted for this community based on her purchase habits but she participates because the brand treats her like a valued member of its community. She regularly gives her feedback on a range of topics in exchange for early access to products, special discount and other preferred offers.
Later on, she checks out the latest webisode of a web series she follows that was created by a beverage company. The web series has been a huge success for the drink maker, creating a following for the shows and, as a consequence, a lot of buzz for the brand – which is openly and authentically featured in the series.
As Alex prepares for bed, she surveys her apartment. She is very conscious of what she buys and why. Her purchases are deliberate. She doesn’t buy things, she buys things with meaning. Though she sees less traditional advertising than she used to, she is more engaged with the ads that she views. She can connect her purchases to strong creative content created by brands, or co-created by brand fans. Though she is exposed lots of targeted ads, she feels that she is one who controls the content she sees. She accepts new brands warily and rarely with a direct entreaty from the advertiser. Instead, she relies on peers and trusted sources for her introductions. At the same time, she actively engages with the brands she likes and actively discourages her network from doing business with brands she dislikes. She wants companies to challenge her, understand her, and inspire her through the content they create. She wants stories that move her, excite her and delight her.
Turning out the light, Alex takes off the smartwatch she received for her big birthday the other night. She just turned 55.
Michael Maslansky, CEO, Maslansky Luntz + Partners