Consumers' time spent with media has rapidly shifted in recent years. First it moved from traditional media outlets controlled by a few companies to ad networks comprised of millions of websites. We later witnessed another fragmenting shift to bloggers with loyal followings. Today, we've hit the last stage of fragmentation: Consumers are now spending their time relentlessly checking content created by their social networks or publishing content themselves. Consumers now control the media. So what does this mean for marketers?
Ease of sharing
It's only getting easier for our peers to publish and share content. Seventy-six percent of internet users are now active on social media, and while we likely still have a few friends who lurk silently, the majority of them are creating or sharing content across their networks. Armed with Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, non-bloggers can easily create and share content -- and we can't get enough of what our friends are publishing. In fact, Millennials are spending 30 percent of their media time with content created by their peers.
Millennials, forecasted to have record-breaking purchasing power of $1.4 trillion by 2020, love user-generated content (UGC). Based on new research from Ipsos MediaCT, Millennials spend 30 percent of their time with content created by their peers. This means they're spending more time with peer-created content than traditional media combined (print, TV, and radio).
According to the Ipsos MediaCT study, UGC is more memorable and trustworthy than other media. Nearly 70 percent of Millennial social media users are influenced to make purchases based on their friends' posts, according to eMarketer. Nielsen's "Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages Report" also reports that word-of-mouth recommendations from the people closest to us are most influential. But even the most sound research doesn't necessarily divert brands from investing in the most controllable channels to disseminate their own branded content via sponsored posts, native advertising, and programmatic banners. With declining click-through rates on sponsored posts and mainstream controversy around trust as it relates to native advertising, these solutions will likely not be sustainable in this new peer-powered future. In turn, some of today's most successful brands are letting the people power their marketing.
Giving power to the people
Marketers know that brands don't live on spreadsheets or inside creative agencies. They live in the hearts and minds of their consumers. Many brands are handing the reins over to their consumers and putting them at the center of their marketing infrastructure. Historic brands like Chapstick, Cottonelle, and Verizon have found ways of working intimately with huge groups of their consumers. Together with their crowds, they are unlocking new ways of thinking about their respective categories and driving product ideation, strategy, creative, and marketing.
Breakthrough companies like The Honest Company, Dollar Shave Club, and Birchbox are prepping for billion-dollar IPOs by avoiding huge merchandising and advertising spends and going straight to their consumers online. They enable their consumers to dictate the products they create, elevate the right marketing messages, and go to market through viral video sharing, UGC creation, and robust referral programs.
Advertising in its current state is broken -- but not for long. The people who believe in your brand can fix everything. Let us know your take on the state of advertising or ways your brand puts consumers at the heart of the marketing process in the comments section below.