Soapbox: It’s clear the era of traditional mass messaging is over

  •   June 30, 2020

There was a time—and not terribly long ago—that getting marketing messages to a mass audience was relatively easy: identify a target demographic and then figure out the mix of broadcast and print ads that balanced reach and repetition within a given budget. In those days, media and entertainment choices were relatively limited. Even when people had many cable channels to choose from, the available content was offered by one provider who managed a relatively captive audience.

Today, marketers look at this era as a quaint relic of the past, much the same way they might with the world of Mad Men. With the rise of cable-cutting (swelling by more than 4.5 million US households in 2019 alone) and a growing generation of “cord nevers,” it’s clear the era of traditional mass messaging is over. Interestingly, despite this seismic shift in consumer preferences for providers, the television remains the screen of choice for many viewers.

With that being the case, the challenge becomes: how can we transition from mass messaging to targeted storytelling? The answer lies in fundamentally rethinking strategies using a more nuanced palette of options, capitalizing on the flexibility and power offered by connected, “smart” TVs. 

Does your story need to extend its reach beyond a traditional TV audience? Is your brand’s audience more likely to be found watching Hulu, Netflix, or Disney+? Do you want your messaging to be aligned with specific kinds of content regardless of device? The technology and measurement infrastructure now exists to serve any—or all—of these needs.

Best capitalizing on these opportunities requires a rethinking of the art of storytelling—reimagining the possibilities of connecting and resonating with audiences in new and compelling ways. It’s an exciting creative challenge, and the brands that rise to the occasion are the ones that will forge a new kind of branded content for the future—all the while striving to target an “audience of one.”


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