When the pandemic lockdown started in March, people received emails from every brand, business and blogger that they ever bought something from or with whom they shared their email addresses. Now, 10 months in, we continue to be bombarded with messages ranging from weekly fluctuating in-store policies, LinkedIn notifications, virtual greetings and so much more. It’s as if marketers turned things up to 11 and never turned the dial back.
Here’s even more evidence that this isn’t abating: On the Epsilon PeopleCloud Messaging platform, there was a 22% increase year-over-year in email sends in October 2020, likely due to Covid-19 updates, changing regulations and brands spreading out their holiday shopping and Black Friday messaging. On the whole, we’re seeing an 11% year-to-date increase in email sends through November 2020.
This isn’t to say brands shouldn’t be reaching out more these days. But the influx we all received during this time highlights a central question around our role as marketers: What is really worth consumers’ time and attention?
Navigating the attention economy and content creation democratization
There have been plenty of think-pieces on how and why we live in the “attention economy.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is famous for saying that sleep—not HBO, Hulu or Amazon—is the streaming giant’s biggest competitor. And the collective digital attention and ecommerce spending have only grown in the pandemic: 50% of consumers have been online more and 42% have been watching more TV.
As NYU professor Scott Galloway concluded, “Covid-19 is really more of an accelerant than it is a change agent,” noting that more U.S. households have an Amazon Prime membership than decorate a Christmas tree, own a pet or go to church.
According to data compiled by media analysit Lori Lewis, in just a single internet minute:
- 764,000 hours of Netflix are watched
- 2.5 million Snaps are created
- 1.6 million swipes are swiped on Tinder
- A total of 59 million messages are sent on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger
But what’s different about today’s landscape vs. even three to four years ago is the democratization of content creation. Anyone can create the next viral video or internet minute, and create they do. Writer and filmmaker Marlowe Granados shared that most TikTok experts suggest posting three to five videos a day. With a platform whose base is exceeding a billion users (the fastest-growing of all social media services), that’s a lot of content. As Granados puts it, “TikTok… rewards the never-ending churn of production. One of the platform’s most effective moves was to distinguish its users as ‘creators.’”
The tonality of marketing hasn’t shifted, but how we get people to pay attention, to care and to act has shifted dramatically in 2020. For example, John Krasinski started “Some Good News” during quarantine (sold to CBS in May) and brought “Hamilton” to a girl who wasn’t able to go to the live show—offering something authentic, real and fresh to a mass audience at home. That video now has more than 13 million views on YouTube.
We’re charting new paths for innovation that aren’t solely driven by the creatives of the past. It’s exciting, yet a little daunting, as it means that the bar is set higher than ever before. It also means that anyone can set that bar higher than it was yesterday.
This democratization of content was a long time coming for the marketing industry even before the pandemic. And because of it, marketers have to continuously prove that our brands are worthy of consumers’ time and attention.
Staying ahead of the curve
Just as consumers received a ton of content from brands during and before the pandemic, marketers likewise received a ton of content from other marketers. That begs the question: What’s worth your time and attention from a business perspective?
That’s why, in the midst of a landscape that is more unpredictable and louder than ever, Epsilon launched CORE, a new digital magazine for marketers challenging the possibilities within their marketing. The premier issue has some compelling content:
- The cover story on walled gardens brings together Bank of America’s Lou Paskalis and Publicis’ Sean Peters to explore the strengths and limitations of these platforms.
- In “The Ultimate Disruption,” marketing experts, including Leo Burnett’s Aki Spicer and Salesforce’s Brian Solis, share perspectives on post-pandemic consumer behavior.
- We talk to thought leaders including Luma Partners’ Terry Kawaja and IAB’s Susan Hogan about what marketers can learn from direct-to-consumer brands.
We hope our coverage encourages you to think beyond traditional boundaries and lead conversations that carve the path forward—to consider what is possible in marketing beyond what you’re doing today.