“History never repeats itself, but it does rhyme.”
Reading industry magazines and lectures over the past years has felt like an everlasting hunt for authenticity.
This phenomenon led me to examine this.
Authenticity – Being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
Thinking of the authenticity trend, where big corporate coffee chains are building red brick walls in their shops and having their staff members grow beards feels less authentic, authenticity is saying who you are. If you are corporate, then say so; if you are a bar from the 19th Century, then say you are a 19th Century bar.
The question – where can we find authenticity?
My answer – the things we once considered as not authentic, and the reason for the ever-increasing search for authenticity is good old advertising.
The counter trend for advertising, the search for authenticity, has led actually to much less authenticity. This is a classic trend structure first identified by Marshall McLuhan, . We look for something new, take it to the extreme, grow tired of it, and then revert to the traditional solution with some changes.
An example for this trend, from another industry, can be seen in retail. Five years ago, it was clear that all retail should move online; now you can experience the trend of online retailers opening physical shops.
We like extremes. The binary world of good and bad is easy to handle. But the truth is that there is no one single solution. It’s usually a mixture that is the winning recipe. The best idea shouldn’t be a monarchy – it should be a democracy.
Why do I claim that ads are authentic? Ads admit that they are ads; they don’t hide it. When an influencer recommends a brand without a proper disclaimer, they lack authenticity. Your audience understands that. When they give a disclaimer, it becomes … an ad. Wix’s Super Bowl campaign, as an example, was a great campaign, but let’s remember it was an ad-driven campaign and not an influencer campaign.
This trend of reverting to traditional traits of advertising is already happening. According to Edelman’s Trust Matrix, user trust in social platforms is declining, while trust in traditional outlets is on the rise. Peer group influencers are less effective than experts. Back to the 90’s we go.
If advertising is so good, then how did we get to the point where no one speaks about advertising? Why do the CEO’s of holding groups predict a decline in advertising?
I think we all know what happened – there was too much wrong-doing in our industry.
Programmatic advertising was one of the biggest promises of the advertising world, with the ability to target a specific person with a precise message and analyze an unlimited amount of KPI’s about his acceptance.
The problem was that it also enabled non-transparent activity.
Brands’ confidence in their agencies was crushed. According to a 2016 i-comm survey, under 35% of marketers had low confidence in their agency. In 2018, the majority of marketers have low confidence. This is a significant and rapid drop. Another interesting fact is that in 2016, the majority of respondents (80%) did not anticipate any significant change in trust levels over the coming year.
They held the opinion that if trust changed at all, it would be slight. Not only do we have a trust issue, but it also came as a surprise.
Although the industry has had its wrongdoings, advertising, when done right, works. Let’s not forget that. The positive side is that once you identify the problem, you can solve it.
The industry should unite in the effort to reclaim trust. We need to find an outside party to serve as a trust keeper. This is a challenging job, one potentially unfitting for a human.
Luckily, this is where technology can help. We need to develop technology which can audit player sizes, usability, and efficiency in real time.
Just as the industry has succeeded in reducing fraud by developing the right technology, we need to develop a trust-promoting technology.
In summary, the problem of advertising is not authenticity and experience; it is trust. Let’s work together as an industry to regain it.