In looking at how and why companies are using technology to encourage customer participation, it is clear that this is a diverse topic, with many different theories.
Research suggests that the use of technology in advertising is only advancing as usage becomes more common. In the future, this evolution will change the way people see advertising and how it is to become an intrinsic part of life rather than just a background noise.
Encouraging customers to actually become a part of the advertising campaign, to interact, gives them a chance to feel like a part of the company and that their views are important. Tradition would dictate that supply is determined by demand. Products and services would be invented as a solution to a problem or need within society. In more recent times, we have seen advertising become more ‘push’, convincing customers that they need or want a product, buying into a brand or ideology than this outmoded ‘pull’ method. A good example here are things like ice cream Mars bars, after all, there are no recorded instances of anyone burning their mouth on a traditional Mars bar and asking for a colder one.
However, the rise of social media has changed things again. The word social is itself indicative of two way communication which James E. Grunig (1984) tells us is the only true method of conversation. This two way interaction means consumers are able to feel a part of the company, especially when a company replies to even the smallest queries posted on their ‘Facebook’ page, not only buying but being part of the brand. The out of home advertising aspect of these campaigns creates experiences which people want to share with others is vital to current advertisements, to be different and stand out. If the people who experienced it told their friends and family, it places a thought and memory into their mind about the brand, a recommendation from a peer can mean all the difference when people are choosing between brands whether the recommendation be good or bad it is able to affect their choices.
Simply telling people what you want them to believe, something Grunig would term propaganda, is no longer able to connect with audiences. People multitask while watching TV and do not pay attention to billboards or posters. If people don’t look at them, they do not take in the intended message. Billboards and TV adverts are easily forgotten, today we understand that people will retain more information and knowledge when they are actively participating and able to converse they will learn more. Not only that but Dale’s cone of Experience, Dale (1964) shows that the more stimulus used the better the knowledge retention.
Using technology in campaigns creates a whole new experience for the consumer, making it more memorable in the process. Interactivity with a company through an advertisement can not only make the consumer feel like they have connected with the brand on some level it can also help generate brand loyalty.
The amount of different technologies that are being used at the moment means not all advertisements are of the same calibre. Comparing a campaign using Bluetooth connections and one using augmented reality is not entirely feasible as they both offer high interactivity levels but can create different outcomes to the campaign.
One positive when using technology, especially when using ones such as the Opinionator, is that they allow true interaction results, placing an advert on the TV, you can see how many of the audience had the channel on at the time the advert was shown, but it cannot tell you how many of them were actually watching the advert when it came on.
By concentrating on technology which allows near accurate interaction statistics, which allows the company to see how successful it actually was. Some who participate with the advert could also film the experience and share it over the internet, Hypserspace’s campaign for Cadbury’s Crème Egg is a firm example of this with the amount of views the consumer generated videos received on YouTube, this shows the uncontrolled amplification side to unusual advertising techniques that are used, things that the traditional methods of advertising would not gain.
Although the aim of the primary-research was to also gain a wide range of views, it wasn’t 100 per cent possible with the amount of people who responded to the questionnaire. While 45 people were enough to gain enough responses to be able to draw graphs from the results, a wider variety would have created results that were more diverse. This would have helped to gain a more comprehensive view of what the general population thinks of advertisements.
The topic allows for further study, if the research was to be taken further it would be plausible to look more into the psychology of advertisements to find out what the fundamentals are and why the traditional advertisements worked, this would give some deeper insight into why advertisements are changing and why involving consumers works as well as it does.
Research into the mechanics of some of the technologies and how they work would also be beneficial to the project by gaining a more thorough understanding of how they work. Not knowing what technology will be available in the future for advertising cut the research short on an expansive matter but as each technology becomes known it would be possible to write further on the topic. It would also be possible to write further and delve deeper into guerrilla marketing, looking further into the history of the movement and the reasons behind it.
In conclusion technology is being used to encourage customer participation in an attempt to stand out from traditional methods of advertising and to create a way of reaching out to consumers. Trying to interact with the general public can generate a whole different idea of the company in the mind of the consumer. It can also help companies change their persona to a more welcoming, open personality like T-Mobile now have because of their successful Life’s for Sharing campaigns. Being more open about the company allows people to feel better about letting the company know what they think about them, say, to comment on their ‘Facebook’ page instead of writing on their own blogs, which is where Dell had their trouble. Creating a more memorable experience and actually inviting consumers to interact with the advertisement means it has a higher chance of being remembered, and getting the message across to the audience.