In a world where technology is playing an every increasing role in the way we live our lives and do business, our behavior is forever changing. Here are 5 fundamental ways technology is influencing our lives:
- A perpetual state of ever becoming where we never ever get there;
- Creating abundance where it was once scarce;
- Giving us control and empowering us in unprecedented ways;
- Fragmenting our attention in extraordinarily complex behavioral ways;
- Loosening grasp on our own humanity and what it means to human.
In this article, I want to home in on point 4: Our fragmented attention. But I will touch briefly on some of the other points (and more in subsequent postings).
There is something wrong with the Internet. It is no ones fault. It is simply a natural evolution, which will adapt due to human pressure and our innate ability to change the environment around us primarily due to our superior intelligence as a species. So what is wrong? Simply put: Our ability to tell a story in a fragmented attention landscape.
Since the beginning of humanity, but also the first years of our lives, we told and witnessed stories, which we passed onto each other. These stories ultimately defined our reality and perception on life. We use to have all the time in the world to tell these stories with no technological incumbencies. Face to face. Eye contact. A soul. Attention was focused. You told your story. The first ones you heard came from your mum and dad.
Then print, radio, television and outdoor advertising came along. These were all mediums to focus peoples attention so stories could be told at scale. These mediums were created by advertisers and marketers to focus attention and tell stories.
Advertising is simply the art of getting people’s attention and marketing is simply the art of turning needs into wants by telling a story.
Marketers tell stories. They tell stories to get you to behave in desired ways, alter your reality and help you to validate your often preexisting world view and take action. Marketers do this to promote a businesses. Simple right?
Enter the Internet. The first mass communication medium that advertisers and marketers did not invent. This medium also happens to be driven by technology in all its glory. Technology in this case created an abundance of “connection” where it was once scarce (point 2 above). These connections of course allows us to connect to things like information, applications, other people (through things like mobile phones) but it also allows things to connect to things and gave rise to a new creation called the Internet of Things (IoT). And one step further is to allow people to connect with connected things and we call this the Internet of Everything (IoE). I think you get my point. The internet is a connection machine. It connects things.
But in this simplicity of abundant connection where efficiency of connection is in perpetual improvement (point 1 above), we also find disconnection, disintermediation and fragmentation. What exactly is it affecting? Our attention.
Our attention on the Internet is highly fragmented and becoming disintermediated, which disconnects it from the focused attentions we once had with brands and the things we consumed to live our lives.
Marketers now have to deal with this fragmented attention and try to tell their stories in a fragmented attention landscape. And they have to do this at scale. And because change is hard, marketers still like to do it the old way, with limited use of technology. WTF?
Marketers have always had a reputation of ruining everything they touched. This is unfortunately the end game as business is business which equals profits and growth. That’s just how it is they say! So of we go with our stories and with a gentle squeeze of the trigger, BOOM, we fire them out all over the internet and “hope” to hit something. Anything, as long as it makes money for the business.
I don’t believe for a second marketers are out to ruin everything they touch. I believe that marketers just do not have the tools and/or knowledge they need to be empowered to do what they want to do … make people happy with products the need and want in their lives. That makes for a very happy marketer too you know! 🙂
But wait! Markets have this thing called technology which allows them to deliver messages at scale which is highly empowering and gives us control to serve a message to a user that needs it (point 3 above). Yes, we do have some wonderful technology indeed. Really cool tools. Google made sure on this part as they have a vast wealth of attention to tap into and hence must empower marketers to tape into this attention to tell their stories which ….. equals money for Google. Yay!
But what is wrong with this picture? Here we have “people”, you and me, surfing the web, enjoying web pages, enjoying social media feeds, enjoying conversations with friends and family and ….. we are interrupted with advertising, banners, popups, popunders, and irrelevant messages where 9/10 times they annoy us and are generally not welcomed. They distract us and negatively impact our experience. But do we have a choice?
So what do we do? We block the messages of course. With ad blockers. We turn to messenger chat platforms where marketers are “not yet” present in all their glory ready to ruin that too because they dive in without the right tools and the right knowledge. But we understand that great content comes with great effort. Whether it be in the effort of creating the content like the New Your Times website or your Facebook feed where the effort is in the technology that is built to empower anyone to create, share and consume content.
So maybe by now your wandering where am I going with this story? Where I am going is that a sustainable Internet will be forced to adapt because we will as human beings ensure it adapts to our needs. We have the ability to influence our environment remember, we are super intelligent. And these needs right now are in building meaningful connections between the business and the brands they operate with the consumer (you and me) that consume them and keep them in business. We need to move closer to a world of meaningful connections where messages can be delivered at scale and be meaningful to anyone seeing them so that they are welcomed and enjoyed and not resented and blocked.
Especially when our attention is ever more focused on limited sized mobile phone screens where the only ads people want to see, are the ads they would miss if they were not there.
In a mobile environment, the only ads people want to see, are the ads they would miss if they were not there.
Ok. If you read this far I have your attention. And you are consuming my story 😉
Hop off for 5-10 minutes and read this post I made about Making love from data, or die trying. It’s a nice read. And it holds the secret key to how disruptive innovators like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb are so successful 😉
After reading this article you will understand that its now about the data. The human behavioral data (our privacy) generously offered to the internet in exchange for the use of some cool platforms.
We exchange our privacy in the form of data for the use of some cool platforms that help us live our lives.
And what it comes down to is that this data (our privacy) is being used to target ads to us. The more we give, the more we get back. Here is also a must read article on this topic that explains the meaningful connections model: To get, you must first give…
Get ready for an age of connected devices and meaningful personalized experiences. That is, if you are willing to share your data! 🙂
The race that is happening right now on the Internet basically comes down to companies building platforms for us to behave in so they can collect our data to serve us in more meaningful ways both through the services and products they offer, but also through the ads they target to us to make money to fund their technology developments. They are building enhanced “artificial” relationships through technology with data.
I will quote the piece I wrote on Google:
The examples are all around us. Google uploaded a search bar and put the world behind it. They let you ask them what you want. The holy grail of marketing. And they simply give it to you by understanding who you are, your intent and what you want. They continuously analysis the data within the technology connections they facilitate and optimize the relationship so that you very quickly get what you want. This way they hold your attention (you keep coming back) and they serve advertising that is also behaviorally adjusted to nurture the relationship and give you what you want. It costs google about 2 cents to serve up your answer, and through advertising they make 27 cents. That’s a profit of 25 cents for every search you perform!
Here is what it comes down to:
And to get you to click more ads, these great minds need our data in order to understand 4 critical things:
- Our device (context)
- Our location (because we are mobile)
- Our interests (history)
- Our behavior (activity)
- Our intent (somewhat predictive … possible with BigData and AI)
Before I leave you, here is the meaningful connections model. I will write a lot more about this model in months to come and will publish a book on it in 2017.
(Making love from data, or die trying explains this model in more detail or just ask me!)
So that’s it for now. I hope this was not too long winded and you got something out of it. I can answer any questions you have should you want to ask them. Shoot…
I will leave you with this nice little video on the Google assistant. He/She has no name. Because he/she is your assistant. And who do you trust more then your own personal assistant with your data. Get it? It is the “thing” you trust the most with your data because if you enter the relationship fully and share everything about yourself, your assistant will be able to help you live your life is more meaningful ways by connecting you to what you need and maybe even what you want before you even ask. (I wrote a post on this too here)
PS. Hi, I’m Chris, how can I help you? 😉