Breaking through customer indifference

Marketing and the full effect on global culture.

Overcoming Consumer Desensitization To Marketing

In my last Insights post, I described the coming renaissance in marketing now emerging from an integrated, cross-silo restructuring of marketing talent within organizations. This article, the first of two parts, is about a parallel revolution–how tech breakthroughs will create entirely new dimensions of customer experience that will make marketing significantly more compelling.

With the advent of the Internet, new technology could have ushered in an exciting new age of customer engagement. Unfortunately, advertisers decided to focus almost exclusively on metrics-based click through rates. In the process, they neglected user experience and overall quality of messaging. As a result, the Internet is now flooded with 5.3 trillion ads a year, creating a stupefying desensitization among consumers.

Banner Blindness

During the Golden Age of advertising in the 1960s and 70s, there were many brilliant print and TV ad campaigns. Some had a powerful effect on the culture. Marketers then understood that effective messages have to evoke heartfelt pleasure in the viewer–often achieved through humor or a fresh, uplifting perspective on everyday life.

By the 2010s, most of us were routinely clicking away from advertising links. A full 70% of mobile users either block ads or are planning to do so. It won’t be easy to recapture consumer engagement because there is now a rigid $60B a year corporate ad infrastructure that will not respond easily to reform.

Many Marketers Now Agree, However, That We Need To Take The Following Steps

  • Reduce the numbing frequency of posts.
  • Recalibrate objectives by using metrics that track user recall and emotional response(s) to specific messages.

Regardless, Virtual Reality (VR) software will rapidly incorporate a broad range of enticing new technologies to captivate users. Next, I’ll discuss how haptics (touch), smell, and advances in sight and will transform routine messaging into memorable art.

A renewed focus on more creative and authentic messaging.

When the world went online in the early 2000s, digital marketers committed to quantity over quality of messaging. There is now a growing recognition in the industry that overwhelming consumers with robotic marketing pitches doesn’t work. This has resulted in the emergence of an advertising renaissance with a renewed focus on more creative and authentic messaging to overcome consumer indifference. Those companies at the forefront of this revolution are distributing their marketing professionals across silos to expand creative input and top-down decision making.

Technologies That Enhance The Senses

The future of online marketing will be on newer platforms like mobile, wearables and Virtual Reality. Desktop advertising, by comparison, will be static. Fortunately, the latest sensory-enhancement technologies are a great fit for new platforms.


Haptics is the science of applying touch to control computer applications, including communicating with others or recognizing objects. The simplest example of haptics is when your phone vibrates to alert you to an incoming call. When this happens, you instantaneously experience a spike in adrenaline. Is the message good or bad news? –Marketers can use this technology in new ways, not limited to push notifications that users often find annoying. Apple and other mobile device manufacturers are working to create a still greater variety of vibrations.

In addition, Apple recently launched 3D Touch, which senses how much pressure you place on iPhone display options. Now available on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, developers are only beginning to utilize its potential. It is sensitive to gestures like tap, swipe and pinch. In recent months, the iPhone 6 has introduced “Peek,” “Pop,” and “Quick Actions” to make it easier for users to quickly access information when navigating between applications.

One example–

  • “With Peek, (you) just lightly press on the screen to get a popup of information depending on what app you’re in. In mail, for example, you can lightly press on an email and you’ll get a quick peek at what that email contains. If you deem it important, just press a little harder and you’ll Pop into it.”

Sight and Sound

Virtual Reality (VR) with a market value projected to reach $6B by 2025, holds the greatest potential for advancing video and audio marketing technologies. To avoid the big strategic missteps of the past, marketers will need to proceed carefully. One promising area of research is using biometric measures to track eye movements and other physical indicators that measure subconscious reactions to ads. This will provide a direct way to assess underlying user emotional responses. This is critical because emotions determine 80% of purchase decisions. (Antonio Damasio, Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California).

Olfactory Technology

Olfactory (scent) based marketing has been used for decades in magazines and by retailers for a wide range of purposes from luxury-scented cars to pheromone-infused clothing store environments. It may take years of research before technology will advance to the point where it can reliably deliver scented reinforcements via digital devices. Investment in this area will continue, however, driven by the simple fact that scent is the strongest of all our senses in influencing memory recall and emotional response.