The “Creator Era”

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, it will be interesting to see how brands are leveraging influencers through social media to be a part of the new “creator era.”

The Super Bowl and other live events are the last vestige of a dying era of mass media. Sports–along with The Bachelor, The Voice and other major primetime events–are the few programs that remain impervious to DVR ad-skipping, as the immediacy of the live coverage is key to the viewing experience.

But does advertising on these mass outlets still make sense with increasing prices and changing consumer preferences?

Since fewer alternatives now exist to capture consumer attention en masse, the cost of the options that remain has risen quickly over the past 10 years, as referenced in Harvard Business working paper The Rising Cost of Consumer Attention. A Super Bowl ad for 2017 sells for $5 million–an effective CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of $38, quite an expensive price for the least–targeted advertising buy available.

The cost per eyeball becomes even higher when you take into account the increasingly divided nature of attention today versus 20 or even just 10 years ago. It’s been well-documented that attention spans are shorter than they once were. It’s no longer just running to the kitchen to grab a beer during the commercials, but instead diving headlong into a second-screen device.

One out of three viewers now watches part of the Super Bowl on a mobile device, and 50 percent of this group are millennials. On Super Bowl Sunday 2016, there were 200 million Facebook posts and 27 million tweets about the game. Social media conversation is an ingrained part of major live events.

Studies have shown that millennials are often blind to traditional TV ads or even have a negative perception of brands advertised. Growing up with TiVo and YouTube has conditioned many millennials to be in complete control of what they want to see and when. The result is that social media and smartphones have made millennials both followers and creators.

We deem this new age of participatory social media the “creator era.” Collaborative social engagement is a much deeper experience than the passive consumption of a TV commercial. It’s here, in social creation, where brands will have much higher attention for their marketing dollar.

Why its hot?

As digital marketers we have a challenge, engage audiences within the shortest amount of time and overcome the “second-screen syndrome.” Millennials have grown up with the a negative perception of advertisements and brands interjecting themselves into spaces where they just want to be themselves and talk to friends. They are conditioned to be in control of what they want to see and when they want to see it. Social media in particular has made them creators. To engage this audience we have to provide them with content that is experiential and not passive like TV.

It will be interesting to see how brands approach the super bowl this year.. Snickers is testing a LIVE TV sport and more attention may be put on the second screen this year than past years. In the new “creator era,” successful brands communicate awareness in a personalized manner through co-creation with influencers and advocates speaking in their voice to their audiences.