We don’t live in a “digital economy” as coined by executive and author Don Tapscott, we live in an immediacy economy, powered by digital. Digital is merely the tool which fuels instant gratification, on-demand consumption and personalization. The brands that will succeed are the ones that adapt quickly and deliver to consumers before their competition beats them to it.
My son, and others in his generation, navigate technology to my bewildered amazement. He toggles from Snapchat to YouTube to Netflix sometimes consuming all three at once across multiple devices. He can find whatever products he wants, in real time, and have it delivered the same day. The ability to consume right now, though astonishing to me, is commonplace to him. But my son is product of the 2000’s. Born in the new century and exposed early to digital and ecommerce, he is comfortable with technology as a pillar in his life. Most marketers are like myself, however, born into a world before the remote control was standard and mobile phones were necessities.
With today’s technology, there is an intimacy and expectation that comes with wanting something, right now. This was not part of my DNA growing up. If I had a question, my parents told me to look in the encyclopedia. And now, we produce 2.5 Exabytes of data a day – equivalent to 250,000 Libraries of Congress (source: Northeastern University). And the encyclopedia is extinct.
When a generation can say, “I want what I want when I want it,” and actually get it delivered to their doorstep, we assume that instant gratification is the ultimate goal, but there's a lot more to it. I believe the inclination is more about the “instant” much more than the “gratification.” People of every age have always wanted what they wanted when they wanted it, but today's young people are simply the first generation to achieve it. In a digitally-enabled economy, immediacy is, therefore, capital.
Marketing and media today, however, seem out of touch with my son’s generation. Too few are embracing the Immediacy Economy or using it to their advantage. Media briefs still equate success with an increase in “awareness.” Surely transactions and sales are more important. But this requires systemic upgrades in service, support, and a break with many traditional practices. Even digitally native companies that have built their businesses around immediacy continue to market in a manner which is inflexible, deliberate and grounded in a static, non-dynamic world.
Don't get me wrong, today’s advertising is good, timely, funny, creative and relevant. But it could do so much more, right now. Immediacy is the opportunity to create transactions and take advantage of, or create, present desire.
Reaping the benefits of the Immediacy Economy requires creative, media, marketing and brand partners to collaborate and build rules around transactional triggers. There will be set up requirements but they will reap long-term benefits. Here are four simple changes marketers can make to successfully participate in the Immediacy Economy:
1. Challenge creative teams to acknowledge the need for both performance and brand building.
2. Utilize technology to advance 1:1 connections through mobile enablement of print, outdoor and broadcast. This should be standard as they deliver hard metrics and can lead directly to an outcome.
3. Optimize media mix channels for their transactional performance over softer metrics.
4. Capitalize on the strength of content and context working together.
Immediacy means we ascribe increased value to getting now what we would patiently wait for just a few years ago. In the current market, there is more value placed on immediacy than in the pre-digital era when we had no problem waiting patiently because there was no choice. Along with this newfound immediacy, companies have the ability to create transactions and build awareness at the same time; these are no longer mutually exclusive concepts. Think about it, when its 105 degrees in Phoenix there is no need to drive awareness for a cold drink, there is only desire. To that note, I think:
- McDonald’s ads should have an UberEATS log or voiceover. If you want a Big Mac right now you should be able to order one and have it delivered.
- Seamless/Grubhub would be smart to provide matching dollars for every restaurant which proudly displays their logo in press, out of home, online and storefront.
- StubHub might want to prompt me to go to tonight’s game by showing real-time pricing if I order now.
- And Twitter could have used geofencing to prompt app downloads with their Cannes-winning out-of-home campaign.
Digital enablement can power immediacy, but only if we are all willing to put performance at the center of the marketing plan. Immediately.