If we are to consider the potential for AR and VR to impact marketing and advertising it is necessary to first consider the perspectives of classical and modern marketing and advertising. Classical marketing traces back to US advertising pioneer Elias St Elmo Lewis and his “AIDA” model. This model posited that a consumer undergoes a hierarchy of effects described by the mnemonic “AIDA” which expands to Awareness Interest Desire Action. This model is intended describe the optimal process to persuade the consumer to make a purchase. First create awareness, then interest, then desire which leads to purchasing action (Van Dyck, P. 50). We can contrast Elmo Lewis’ model with a one proposed by Jaffe (2010), which he represents with the mnemonic ADIA. Jaffe’s model inverts the hierarchy and starts with Acknowledgement moves to Dialogue, then Incentivization and finally to Activation (Jaffe, P. 57). Jaffe’s model embraces the cooperative and collaborative models of consumer interaction that typify the Internet and digital marketing. It works from the presumption that digital marketing is an ongoing conversation between consumers and businesses as well as between consumers about businesses, e.g. ratings scores.
Classic advertising is directly supportive of the AIDA model by supporting the creation of awareness, interest, desire and purchasing action or buyer’s choice. Research into different buyer’s choice models begins from the theoretical foundations of Thurstone and Luce. Their work led to later scientific models used extensively in classical marketing theory and practice. Commonly referenced models include the Stochastic Brand Choice models of Bass, the Logit models of Silk & Urbane and the work of Tversky & Kahnemann in Consideration Set and Reference Price models (Neslin, P. 22). Neslin outlines the non-linear temporal progression from the Single Choice models through to nascent Choice Dependence Social Network models of Stephen and Troubia (Neslin, P. 20).
Classical marketing and advertising methods evolved for decades on these research frameworks but the fundamentals of the traditional marketing mix of the 4 P’s; product, price, place and promotion (Keegan, P. 4) remained emphasized on the classical sales funnel concept embodied by Lewis’s model.
The initial impact of digital marketing came from the increased use of data collection on consumer buying enabled in the 1970’s with the introduction of the Universal Product Code. Invented in 1949 by Joe Woodland and finally made practical by IBM in the 1970’s the combination of cheap digital storage created the first opportunity for consumer packaged goods marketers to access a wealth of digital data. This enabled them to tighten the feedback loop of marketing and advertising with consumer behavior data. This arguably represented the first wave of marketing reliant on digital technology. The Internet and World Wide Web would come along in the 1980’s and 1990’s respectively to bring us a revolution in marketing driven by ubiquitous digital based ecosystems.
The digital revolution continues its dramatic impact on all aspects of marketing and advertising. From marketing research to product promotion the Internet, broadband, personal computers, smart phones, 4G telecommunications and new communications channels erased the dominance of the established order based on print publications, newspapers, television and radio. Classical marketing can be divided into five major historical periods marked by innovation. Early printed advertising (1890-1910) used arguments to convince people to buy products. The rise of radio, cinema, photography and color printing (1920-1940) gave us form, design and symbolism as a means of persuading consumers. After WWII (1950-1960) the television innovated advertising again with the rise in the use of personalities and lifestyle to entice consumers. The next technology innovation came from the introduction of cable television (1970-1990). This increased the number channels available and created “narrow casting” as exemplified by MTV and CNN. The emergence of the personal computer, the Internet and smartphones are the most recent innovation (1990-present). Forma and content are challenged by these new media. Interactive, participatory and transparent for the consumer these channels continue to yield new collaborative and cooperative models for promotion and persuasion of consumer sentiment (Van Dyck, P.21-22).
Each wave of innovation has transformed the previous models but ultimately not ended their use. Advertising revenue continues to be the monetary support for much media. In the past this revenue stream subsidized newspapers, underwrote radio broadcasting and TV broadcasting. The digital channels have co-opted this revenue stream causing the decline and disappearance of many historically prominent publications and newspapers. Many media titles are fighting for economic survival or searching for new business models to remain financially viable.
Marketing and advertising in the current period focus on balancing of the marketing mix to achieve brand awareness and consumer action. The current wave of innovation drives the focus toward a primarily digital strategy in most cases. Today’s successful marketer must apply strategies and tactics from a broad set of “best practices” in digital marketing while measuring and monitoring those efforts and being vigilant to continued changes in consumer behavior. Recently the University of New Hampshire held its 2nd Annual Digital Marketing Conference from May 18 to 19th, 2017. The presenter’s expert advice serves as an excellent summary of digital marketing “best practices”. Let’s first review the past few decades evolution of the digital marketing ecosystem before reviewing best practices as shared by experts during the mentioned UNH Digital Marketing Conference.