Does advertising have to be intrusive?

Welcome to the age of permission, and content marketing, where relevancy, personalization, timing and promises matter more than ever and how governments will support that through legislation.

What is permission marketing?

The term Permission Marketing was coined by marketing genius Seth Godin in 1998 by the release of his book. It simply put is the shifting paradigm of how to get a consumer’s attention.

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention, " said Godin.

It is not just interesting but quite shocking that this concept still is highly relevant and hasn’t fully caught on in the entire marketing/advertising industry around the globe. We are still faced with 30-second commercials on TV that we wish would just disappear (only exception being Super Bowl ads) and online banners that create a negative attitude towards a brand more than creating “awareness”.

So even as of today, while you are surfing the internet, or walking on the street or zapping through TV channels, many brands, companies, products, services will try to get your attention for one reason or another. In doing that, they will interrupt whatever you were intending to do in the first place, e.g. read an article, watch your favorite show, walk to your meeting. That also means the brands that operate like that believe that their interruption is worth more of your time than whatever you are doing currently. That does not necessarily sit well with the consumer, and there is a difference between building brand equity and getting short-term results, as some of these techniques like spamming work to create short-term gains.

The Internet as a playground for marketers has created opportunities to efficiently identify, track behavior and collect personal data of users, much better than any other traditional medium has ever been able to. This didn’t come without consequences. Upset consumers, concerned governments and sensible content providers realized quickly some things had to be changed.

Therefore online marketing had to come a long way from being the wild west of spamming to being double opt-in content marketing. In order for this to happen laws and regulations had to be and are being created, specifically the anti-spam laws and personal data and privacy laws around the world.

Why is it relevant in Asia?

In Singapore for example the Private Data Protection Act (PDPA) has been put in place effective January 2014 to regulate the collection of private data, its use as well as a Do Not Call registry.

Similar regulations have been placed in other countries in the APAC region, e.g. Malaysia, Philippines, and several are in draft status, e.g. Thailand .

Anyone who has lived in Asia will understand that daily unsolicited calls, SMS, and emails with mostly irrelevant, impersonal offers used to be and still to some degree are annoyances that create more noise in our busy lives. For most of us this is not accepted anymore as a negligible practice in a modern society with more available channels to seek for the consumer’s attention than ever before.

This change of legal ground, consumer mindset and attention span, as well as the technology landscape will require different, smarter ways to approach and talk to the consumers.

Since… It is a privilege to have someone else’s attention to market to them.

If not Interruption Marketing, how to market properly?

In a recent study by eConsultancy, the results showed that 79% of respondents (mainly marketers) use email as the main channel of marketing in APAC. Not too far behind (and on the rise) is Content Marketing with 58%.

It is clear that email marketing is here to stay, content marketing is expected to grow dramatically over the next years.

Content marketing is defined as a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Today’s modern marketers have understood that traditional marketing has become less and less effective over the past decade, and that there must be a better way to talk to the right audience. Content marketing could be the key for that, and the trend of increased budgets for content marketing in 2014 confirms that many are expecting that as well.

Good content marketing will bring your consumers back, and allow you to create a relationship with them, which will at some point result in sales and loyalty. According to Waggener Edstrom, Asian consumers spend up to 3.5 times more on brands they follow online. 78% of Asian digital consumers obtain information about B2B and B2C products and services using social media.

Content Matters by Waggner Edstrom

How to reach consumers
Consumers appreciate personalization, relevant content, the right timing of delivering the content, the right frequency and of course the option to easily unsubscribe from this channel of communication.

Know your audience as good as possible, and know what they want to consume or find value in consuming and when they want to consume that content.

Personalize, adjust, and tailor the content to their profile.

Attract them through a continuous and persistent content strategy.

Allow them to choose to come back and read, digest and share your content easily.

Allow them to build a relationship with you as a brand, and as human beings behind a brand (especially in social media).

Keep your brand promise, and when you don’t, be responsive, transparent about it. Commit publicly to improve.

The writer is Asil Toksal, general manager, Asia Pacific, Vertic Advertising.