Advertising in our search, skip and share culture

by Nigel Hollis | August 30, 2017

One of the big shifts that has taken place over the last couple of decades has been in the way people seek entertainment and information. We now have the ability to find what we want, when we want. Along with all the other changes that have taken place this makes life more difficult for advertisers.

Remember when pretty much all content was appointment content? If you do then it dates you just like it does me. This was not just a matter of waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones, this was waiting for everything.

As a kid I can remember the building anticipation, waiting for the next issue of Look and Learn to arrive in the mail, so I could read the next installment of the Trigan Empire, or the intense disappointment if I missed an episode of Doctor Who. Much as it delights me that Doctor Who is still running (the series is almost as old as me!) it does not seem quite right that you can catch it on the BBC’s iPlayer if you miss an episode. 

Writing this makes me wonder if there has not been a deeper cultural shift as content has moved from appointment to On Demand. Do we now approach all forms of entertainment with a somewhat blasé attitude? Were my emotional highs and lows of days gone by simply those of a child, or is it that I valued the content more because it was not easily available when and where I wanted it? Or maybe it is simply the sheer volume of content available today has undermined the value of any content?


These days we often refer to ‘snackable video’ – short video clips that can be viewed on a mobile phone to satisfy a moment of boredom. Maybe much of the content available to us now is the equivalent of a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin compared to a good, old-fashioned full English? (Please note black pudding is not optional, people, it is essential.)

So what does all this mean for advertisers? Our search, skip and share culture means that people can seek out what they want, when and where they want it. If a quick glance suggests there is nothing of interest they move on, which unfortunately happens with most advertising. If they love what they find then they can share it and talk about it with others. Except maybe the standard of what is loved has changed. Maybe people are more willing to share Egg McMuffin content simply because it easy to do so?

Personally I doubt it. I suspect that in spite of the vast array of digital content available to them people are desperate for compelling and interesting content. And that means that advertisers have to step up their game. People have to be willing to seek out your content and want to share it with others. But what do you think? Do our standards differ in terms of what content we are willing to consume today and how? Please share your thoughts.