Remember less, search more

Brad_headshot - The hallwayIn this guest column, Brad Bennett reveals that as technology evolves we are remembering less and searching more, creating a powerful opportunity for brands.

Your favourite trend-spotter probably recently returned from SXSW. She rightfully calls this the year of…. ‘VR’ or ‘social messaging’ or ‘the IoT’ (again) or ‘location-based apps’.

All of these technologies present amazing creative opportunities for brands. But harnessing new technologies – or for that matter anything ‘digital’ – is not just about learning new production techniques.

Technology is literally changing our brain chemistry. It’s changing the way we think. This presents an opportunity for those advertisers who learn to communicate differently fundamentally.

A growing body of research shows that children are losing the ability to read emotions as they trade-in person time for screen time. It shows that technology is causing shorter attention spans, poorer impulse controls and an increased addiction to novelty.

At the same time research shows that our IQs are increasing and that children born today “are better at tool use”.

Some changes are good, some bad.

Amongst all of these fascinating changes taking place between our ears, there are two points that are of particular relevance to advertisers.

First, the act of searching is increasingly central to how people engage with the world around them. Our brains can’t physically cope with the deluge of information. So, “we have become particularly adept at pushing much of our thinking outside of our skulls and off-loading it on to the world around us.

We have engineered information rich informational environments that actually help us think better.”

Some advertisers see this change and have responded with “always on” messaging. This is good, but often misses the point. Brands must do more than deliver an optimised message every day. Truly taking advantage of this change involves being useful in a complex information landscape. It means measuring and reacting to intent.

And this leads to the second relevant point: the information rich environments we create become extensions of our identities.

The idea of ‘prosthetic memory’ has been around for a while. But insofar as our identities are defined by our memory we are increasingly dependent on our smartphones and server farms for our sense of self. Users reward those brands that respect their mental space.

So, as we incorporate the emerging tech from SXSW into our plans, remember the opportunity extends beyond using new tech for cut through.  

Traditional brand communications are losing their effectiveness on a biological level. Brands must take advantage of our changing brain chemistry and behaviour by designing communication ecosystems that are mobile-first, findable, quick, useful and measured.

Brad Bennett is the head of technology at The Hallway


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