Brand time versus consumer time

Our industry has been grappling with the after-effects of astonishing change for several years now. From the 24-hour media cycle to the instant-gratification generation, the death of retail and consumers gaining control – the pace of change has been unrelenting.

It’s not surprising that brands have been having a hard time keeping up. There may be a good reason for their sluggishness, but not a good excuse.

In an increasingly fast-paced world, it’s easy to see where brands run into difficulty. Brands operate in a world where campaign planning, research and approval processes require time, and lots of it. That’s the way marketing and advertising has worked for decades, and for a long time there was no need to change the formula.

Until now that is. Now, through ecommerce and the far-reaching tentacles of social media, consumers can access the perfect supply chain online or respond instantly to a campaign that took months, or even years to create. You can say it’s a case of conflicting time zones, bricks and mortar versus e-tail – whichever way you cut it, brand time (slow) is out of whack with consumer time (instant).

As advertisers in Alan Jones’ program on 2GB recently discovered, it’s not unusual for consumers to make demands of brands or expect a response. And it’s not impressive to respond quickly to someone’s comments in seconds, minutes or hours – it’s expected.

So what does this mean for marketers used to long lead times and arduous planning? Well, in simple terms, brands need to catch up to consumer time and adjust to real-time planning. We must change our thinking about how we plan communication, shifting our response times to reflect consumer behaviour – which we must constantly monitor.
Collecting and analysing data on how consumers respond to a brand’s activity allows us to be more responsive and relevant in our approach to planning and developing communications – in real time, not old-fashioned brand time.

The crux of the matter is that marketers need to be able to make better decisions, quicker. And, as consumers now expect a two-way conversation, brand messages must become more personally relevant.
Technology will help us to manage the ever-increasing volume of data that is available to marketers and agencies alike. From periodic data to daily/live data, we will be see the frequency of decision making increase and if the right platform and expertise is not in place the ability to react in consumer time is diminished.

Currently technology exists to help marketers communicate with consumers in a more personally relevant way and in real time. Marketers will need to become more familiar with DSPs (demand side platforms), DMPs (data management platforms) and dynamic ad versioning that will allow them to target the right person with the right message and offer at the most effective cost per conversion.
For ultimate success, agencies must become clients’ true business partners – media agencies have a long history of managing data and our ability to enhance that with consumer insights derived from listening to sentiment and observing consumption trends places us well to help clients by offering more than just a traditional media agency solution. But in order to do that we need to know their business inside out so that we know how to assist them in tackling the challenges they face. And we have to get rid of the ‘lines’ – above, below, off, on. The consumer doesn’t think in those terms and neither should we.

The imagined divisions are no longer relevant. Integrated solutions that respond to opportunities, market conditions and consumer sentiment are essential for future success and sustained growth.


Seb Rennie
BY Seb Rennie ON 8 November 2012
Sebastion Rennie is chief investment officer at MEC. After starting his career in advertising in London, Seb moved to Sydney with a couple of mates and took a role at the newly-formed OMD. Seven years later he moved to MediaCom, and then MEC, where he climbed the ranks to where he now sites on the management team.