Big Advertising may be down for the count, but the power of marketing lives on. That’s the big takeaway from Paul Dyer’s “Friction Fatigue,” a look at what advertising’s downward spiral means for “future-focused brands.”
According to Dyer, the CEO of Lippe Taylor, we’re now living in an age of “frictionless marketing,” where friction is taken to mean such things as “the time required to consider and conduct a transaction as well as the actual costs to complete it.” Take away the friction, the thinking goes, and you open the door to more transactions.
And one of the biggest sources of friction, Dyer says, is advertising. “With every passing year,” he writes, “the deliberate interruption of advertising becomes more and more jarring in an otherwise frictionless environment.”
“Friction Fatigue” examines five trends that have led to advertising abdicating its position at the top of the marketing heap.
First off, Dyer points out that consumers have made their desire to avoid ads glaringly obvious. “Advertisers are now faced with a world where over a hundred million people have decided to pay for premium content subscriptions simply because they’re sick of ads.”
He also says that, thanks in no small part to Michael Bloomberg, the illusion of advertising’s effectiveness has been shattered once and for all. After forking out more than $500 million for advertising during his 2020 run for the presidency, Bloomberg bowed out of the race after just four months.
“For him to have spent so heavily and failed so greatly, when many considered him to be a reasonable choice,” Dyer claims, “provided conclusive evidence that advertising is simply not as effective as it used to be.”
The rise of direct-to-consumer brands, the privacy policies and regulations that threw a wrench into Facebook’s advertising platform, and the decision by mass media organizations to sever their ties with Big Advertising are all also cited by Dyer as factors behind advertising’s demise.
He then provides the reader with some ideas about where the time, energy and money previously thrown advertising’s way can be more effectively spent.
For media outlets, he says, the focus of marketing has shifted from advertising—and the friction it causes—to the reader (or perhaps more accurately, the subscriber). Condé Nast, which as of the end of 2020 was pulling in 65 percent of the company’s revenues from subscribers, is just one of the examples cited to make Dyer’s case for that shift.
To make that move, he says that marketers need to play closer attention to what kind of marketing consumers actually want to see. “Consumers today expect you to listen to them,” he writes. “And they reward you when you do.”
Dyer outlines a strategy for making that listening pay off in your marketing program. The steps of that strategy include relying on activations over advertisements, making collaboration a central part of your process, engaging with your audiences rather than just targeting them, and ensuring that your efforts are properly scaled to meet their goals.
Through the course of the book, Dyer offers up many clear examples to back his theories, and puts the emphasis strongly on the opportunities that the transformed marketplace offers marketers. “The type of marketing consumers expect is now apparent,” he says in concluding the book, “and the time is now to leap to a different strategy.”