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Puns and pundits at MediaPost's OMMA Boston '16

A bright, but brisk, Boston morning saw me at the Hyatt Regency for MediaPost’s Online Media Marketing and Advertising (OMMA) event where the day was chock-filled with all kinds of subject matter marketers would geek out about. Right off the bat, I could tell that there were four clear themes for today:

  1. Brands should be like Cupid and win the love of their consumers
  2. The Concept of Interruption to the consumer experience
  3. A lesson in authenticity by b.good
  4. Marketers are taking ownership of their data

And if you’re thinking that there’s no way I can relate this back to data and Experian Data Quality, well oh contraire, because everything always relates back to data and today’s marketers and advertisers are keenly aware of this fact of life.

1. Brands should be like Cupid and win the love of their customers

Consumers have gone from experiencing 500 brand impressions a day to experiencing 5000. No one really knows the exact number, but we can be sure it’s somewhere up north. The point though, is that brands need to differentiate themselves. They don’t even have to reinvent the wheel to do it—they just have to do it better than their competitors.

What marketers and advertisers are doing is competing for time and attention in an age where the value-exchange rate has changed dramatically—consumers want a lot more entertainment in exchange for being receptive to ads. So what can they do? Well, one great idea bandied about was emotive marketing. We seem to be handcuffed through muscle memory to the same way of delivering messages to consumers. But we need to think a little more creatively, take it a bit farther than our competitors, and connect the dots that others aren’t connecting—it just takes that little extra spark to be different. If marketers can focus more on being narrative-driven and creating a story,

Consumers are the ones who have the power to make all of us rethink marketing and advertising, but brands need to become completely customer obsessed and be in tune with what’s happening on the streets. Which leads me to my next point:

2. The Concept of Interruption to the consumer experience

There was a lot of talk yesterday about the upswing in ad blocking technologies being used by consumers. They seem to be completely fed up with ads that aren’t directly in line with that they’re concerned about—and that makes advertisers’ and marketers’ jobs infinitely harder if consumers block out communication attempts altogether.

But here’s the thing: it’s not that consumers are opposed to ads. They know that, hey I’m accessing this service for free, but in exchange, I’m going to be advertised to. People know that ads are the fuel that powers the free content and services they consume, and so it’s not the ads themselves that people are protesting when they install the ad blockers. What consumers are actually protesting are the disruption, irrelevancy, and valuelessness of ads.

Millennials in particular are the guillotine-y when it comes to taking decisive action against things that disrupt their experience. They care less, control more, and want to choose what they want to choose. If they can’t control their media experience, if something got in their way of doing stuff, the ad blocker is going up and staying up.

How can brands and businesses mitigate that? Well, really focus on content and storytelling, and take advantage of media and let it do what it does best—connect with people.

3. A lesson in authenticity by b.good

For those of you not from Downtown Boston, b.good may not be a familiar name. What b.good is is a restaurant focused on “real food fast.” But who b.good consists of is the community where it resides. Jon Olinto, chief brand and marketing officer of b.good, delivered a presentation yesterday (averaging seemingly 200 words per minute, he was speaking that passionately), in which he passionately spoke about community building to build real customer loyalty.

Right from inception, Jon and co-founder Anthony Ackil, focused on telling the ulfiltered story, removing any barriers from customer and brand, and implementing crowd-sourcing in a way that promoted loyalty and got them great ideas.

Starting from where they source their food (from local farmers) to asking people what they’d like to name the containers that their kale are shipped in, b.good is transparent and communicative with its consumers. They are focused on creating a real experience, in which they make consumers participants and make them feel like they’re part of something bigger than products and services.

B.good is real, authentic, and it shows all the way from their website to their mobile app.

4. Marketers are taking ownership of data  

One presentation by Mike Proulx of Hill Holiday was titled, “The Future of Marketing is Less Advertising.” No, it makes complete sense, trust me. The logic goes: Fifty percent of Americans block ads; word-of-mouth is the single most effective brand advertisement that triggers people to buy; and great customer experiences are what drive positive word of mouth.

It’s not enough now to make customer experiences “not bad;” they must be delightful, exceptional. Brands that are focused on perfecting the customer experience are the winners, and how are they doing that? By focusing on technology and data.

Ninety percent of brands say personalization is incredibly important to them, but 80 percent of consumers say that brands don’t get them. There’s obviously some disconnect there that only data can fix. The problem is that, in a lot of cases, when each department uses different technologies, they don’t share the results with marketing. These organizational siloes must reform in order for marketers to use their data better.

All in all, it was a great event by MediaPost, with exceptional speakers and even better subject matter. The panels were lively, the presentations engaging, and I’m pretty sure my carpal tunnel syndrome flared up from so much note-taking.

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