"THE POWER OF 1"
Published on June 15, 2019
A quiet consumer revolution is unfolding beneath our collective consciousness. It is the human nature to find patterns but this revolution is happening as its anti-thesis, which perhaps, is the reason, why we are not able to see it. We are only seeing it as disturbances, distortions or at best, as difference of opinions, but not as a foundational shift in consumer behaviour - a behaviour that is exchanging value every moment in every thing around it, constantly.
The internet of information has already transitioned itself to becoming the internet of value. Information is literally available on the tap (should we say pipe?). It is what we do with that information that is of importance now. Right from codifying it for ease of access (search) to sharing it with others for entertainment (social) or education; trading it for better lifestyle (hotels, restaurants and transport recommendations) we are constantly exchanging value in every moment around us.
Thanks to mobile technology, nearly two thirds of the world population is accessible and connected to each other in some form or the other. Each of these individuals are living his or her own “informed moment” and each of these moments have a unique “value” attached to it for that particular moment. An information when I needed it the most, is of more value to me than when I am engaged in some other activity; I might even consider it as a distraction! For that matter the same information might be of NO value to another individual in any other moment. It is all individual.
We have now firmly entered the age of information barter, where the exchange of value is at an individual level, mostly without any verifications. Conventional variables that are used to form patterns to do the verifications are becoming in-effective because they are only observing the overall disturbances, distortions or the differences instead of understanding individual moments. Current rules for governance are built on observations too, which is why we are not able to control distortions like fake news or online fraud or to even predict elections.
Moments are “bottom-up” while observations are “top-down”. For a good long time, top-down observations are sufficient enough for governance as the bottom-up moments were either too shallow or less frequent to get noticed to make an impact. We did have some significant sparks that triggered a social movement in the past but they were very few and far in-between. However, today, accessibility and connectedness has resulted in more frequent moments that has the potential to create sparks influenced by genuine information or otherwise fabricated. We also forget them often, soon.
The reality is that the power has firmly shifted from top to the bottom. Each individual in his or her own right or might, during the process of exchanging value can trigger a spark voluntarily, accidentally or engineered. We need new types of governance that are bottom up to manage this (Minority Report!) New rules that are not based on observed disturbances, distortions or differences, but based on grass root level real time moments. A form of governance that is built on individual level consensus but with right protocols to ensure integrity is given precedence over popularity.
Advertising & Marketing reflects, influences and shapes our society. The current state of this society is a huge opportunity for marketing to walk hand in hand with governance in making it a better place, as Search and Social platforms are largely built on advertising revenues There are two clear areas in which it can make a big difference. First and foremost is to bring authenticity to the identities. Second is to bring accountability to the value exchange. A fake identity sharing a wrong information in the society is not the kind of spark that our society can afford to have right now.
What marketing needs is the authenticity from the identities and the accountability in the value exchange that converts “moments that matter” into meaningful conversations or engagements.