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Creating opportunity from uncertainty by rethinking how we stand out online

November 2022

Creating Opportunity from Uncertainty

Our Account Director Verity Bouette, returned from Web Summit ready to share her hot topics and key takeaways from some of the most influential speakers globally on how you can create opportunity from uncertainty.

Cue Verity...

Web Summit, the world’s biggest technology conference held annually in Lisbon, is known for bringing together some of the biggest names in the global tech industry, with world-class speakers and unlimited learning possibilities. This year it was no different, with 71,000 attendees from all over the world and representatives from Google, Amazon, Lego, Apple and more. I was lucky enough to be one of the 71,000 visiting and went in with an eager ear and open mind.

A common theme throughout was the upcoming period of economic uncertainty and how to scale your business and grow in what will be, for many, a challenging time. While there will be certain challenges for many brands, it’s also true that uncertainty breeds opportunity. To explain this better, I’ll lean on an analogy I heard from Sarah Guo, founder of venture firm Conviction –in Formula 1, if it’s a bright, clear day, Mercedes will win because it has the best engine and system but if it’s rainy and foggy, anyone can win. 

Now whether you’re a Mercedes or McLaren fan, the key takeaway here is that the economic uncertainty presents opportunity for brands if they get their strategy right. So, how can we change our digital strategies to find the light in the fog? 

The aliens inside of us 

A talk by Chris Anderson, Head of short talks company, TED suggested that much like the film Alien, we’ve all got something growing inside of us, in fact, we’ve got two aliens. The first is a lizard-like mentality that powers quickly through tasks without full consciousness while the second is the softer side, increasing productivity via the fulfilling, loving and generous route. Though the internet, and our industry, was created to bring people together, over time it’s grown to feed the first alien inside of us by creating a digital landscape that thrives on chaos and exploits the worst of us. AI, he says, uses our data to exploit fear and anxiety, selling outrage for profit.

As advertisers, we often hear of an oversaturated digital landscape where brands vie for consumer attention, something that is only going to become more competitive in the coming years. If all brands are using algorithms to optimise towards ad revenue and engagement, then we’ve created an attention factory that targets the worst part of our personalities – the easiest part to gain action from, but the most damaging to consumer wellbeing.

Generating meaningful impact

To grow a brand in challenging times means fighting harder to stand out online by switching from being a cog in the attention factory machine to creating meaningful impact will lead to better brand salience and overall loyalty. To do this, we need to stop feeding the worst part of our personalities and focus on the good. How? By promoting content that makes people stop and think, by shifting their mindset to turn conviction into curiosity and by demonstrating an understanding of their value to your business and an appreciation of their opinion. This is something we speak about in our recent webinar. The good tends to be drowned out by the bad – evil is compelling, good is boring – but as an advertiser you need to find ways to celebrate emotion and bring light to itin your copy and your content which paid media can then be used to amplify.

Scaling brand awareness

To draw attention to the good, you need to scale the message and to scale the message, you need to invest in brand awareness. In another talk, Fred Destin, founder of Stride VC said that often we think we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can achieve scale and profitability at the same time but the opportunity is there for brands that are built on strong principles – those who can tell a story, create energy and connect to people on an emotional level have great opportunity to grow, scale and achieve profit. If you invest in an always-on awareness campaign, and have the creative to match, then it’ll help you accelerate forward in the race.

An iron man suit for the workplace

Another much talked about topic throughout the three-day conference was the Metaverse. Darren Shou, CTO at Norton Life Lock encouraged us to view the Metaverse as ‘an iron man suit for the workplace’ in the sense that it’s a high-tech solution for lots of different problems. Natalie Monbiot, head of strategy at Hour One, was keen to add that, through a corporate innovation lens, it augments our ability to work to increase productivity and skills by offloading tedious, repetitive tasks at scale – the first alien inside us, if you will. A twin in the Metaverse can complete the less desirable tasks leaving the real-world human to generate meaningful connections.

Consumers and businesses are getting more familiar with the terms AR, VR and XR but when thinking about how they can be used to support brand goals, a key takeaway was that they’re creating an empathy machine to allow for better user experiences which can in-turn help sell product. Though still some time away from the Metaverse becoming our day to day, it’s definitely food for thought; does the Metaverse present an opportunity to engage users in a more meaningful, memorable way?

Though this was just a snapshot from the vast array of talks, there was a strong theme of uncertainty around the upcoming economic challenges but an overwhelming sense of positivity and optimism for those who are willing to invest in the right way. The primary takeaway for brands and advertisers being a switch in how you speak to customers, a shift to meaningful connections, investment in awareness and using technology to accelerate growth.

If you’d like to find out how we can support with your creative or digital performance strategies, then slide into our DM's.

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