Storytelling Is Dead: CMOs Say Experiential, Mass Personalization is the Future of Advertising

Advertising is dead. Long live advertising.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that the advent of mobile technology has been a huge disruptor of the way people consume media, including advertisements. Ad blockers, shorter attention spans and the crave for uninterrupted experiences are just some of the ways the new media landscape is making more challenging for brands to reach consumers through traditional channels and methods.

“People are increasingly annoyed and irritated by the advertisements,” Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar told Erin Andrews. “You have 200 million people who are active users of ad blocks. That’s growing at a rate of 12.5 percent per quarter. So by the end of the first quarter 2017 there were as many 225 million active users of ad blocks.”

But ad blocks are not the only challenge brands safe when trying to reach consumers. Wildly popular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube Red also keep marketers up at night. “Netflix has close to 100 million subscribers and they watch a billion hours of content every single week, ad-free,” Rajamannar said. “For me, the way to reach consumers is through experiences, to engage consumers and make them our brand ambassadors. That’s what we call storymaking: storytelling is dead, it’s all about storymaking in the future.”

Experience is also at the heart of Deloitte CMO Diana O’Brien’s strategy. “Our employees and our customers have to have an experience that, one, entices me to want to be part of it and then engages me,” she told Erin Andrews. “The greatest part of digital is that allows for that if you get them in the right spot with the right content that matters to them.”

“Yes, it has become more challenging but also more exciting,” Antonio Lucio told Andrews. However, the HP CMO goes back to basics when facing some of the most recent industry challenges. “I fundamentally believe that the lack of confidence that the CMO group today has is because we’ve lost track of the fact that, at the end of the day, we’re there to drive the revenue line,” he explained. “We are business people first and marketing artists second.”

CEO DDB Chicago, Paul Gunning, shares Lucio’s enthusiasm. “I don’t think there’d be any limitation on why you couldn’t create something pretty fantastic for your customers,” he told Rob Gregory, President of Sales at WHOSAY. “We’re thinking holistically about that user journey/experience. So it’s just not how they see the advertising, and our job is done. But we’re looking at the entire connected platform, if you will, of what it’s happening at the service level, the retail level, the purchase level and then after purchase.”

There is no doubt these experiential initiatives can be facilitated by technologies such as mobile IDs, which P&G CMO Marc Pritchard brought up. “What makes [mass personalization] the next wave is that now with digital technology you have consumer ID data. So, your phone has an ID. We know it’s Erin,” he said. “Those IDs are being collected in the databases and then we can work with the people that have those databases, as well as our own database, to be able to reach you when and where it matters.”