Bob PearsonBob Pearson

Technology now allows us to identify exactly what any customer or consumer or citizen is doing online anywhere in the world in any form of social or traditional media. We have never had this large of an opportunity to define who our audience is and what they care about. In other words, we can identify and architect the audience we are trying to reach before we launch a new initiative. We don’t need to guess anymore.

If you are expert in audience architecture, you will align with your audience and when you do that, results will improve significantly.

Scientific innovation is exploding in areas like health, where technologists and healthcare professionals are finally teaming up to figure out how to more effectively reach and teach physicians, how to learn how drugs work within our system via biodegradable chips or how we improve our own wellness via a myriad of devices. It’s also occurring in our home with the proliferation of sensors, beacons, Internet of Things apps and the rapid innovation in artificial intelligence.

We are witnessing a new explosion of data that is far more personal. And this means that every company and every industry is becoming technology driven.

Culture, due to technology advance, is the biggest shift and probably the least understood, since it involves people’s habits changing, rather than a new piece of software that we can point to. Social innovation is harder to understand. We don’t publish papers on it or present at medical meetings or declare a new Moore’s Law. Instead, we have to watch, learn and build the new models based on what we observe.

Two massive changes are occurring that completely shift how we think and work.

The first relates to attention spans. We can now Snapchat, tweet, text or live stream our daily thoughts to the audience we care to reach. Since we are continually sharing, learning and conversing in real time, our habits are reshaped. Facebook, for example, says that with 8 billion video views per day, we have less than three seconds to catch someone’s attention.

The journalism pyramid taught to us long ago starts with the headline and works from there. Now, with all content, particularly video, this same rule applies. If you make someone wait more than an instant for the punch line, you’ll lose them.

The other tectonic shift in culture relates to how the entire online audience is now empowered to make a difference, not just the creators of content. In the 1-9-90 model, we always knew the 1 percent who create content are important. Way back in the 2005-2012 era, we focused nearly exclusively on these influencers. But now, via technology advance, the 9 percent who share and shape markets are the big disruptors for brands. They are deciding what is cool and worthwhile.

The result is that every brand needs to think of itself as an audience-centric media platform. Not just Red Bull or Nike. If you know who the 9 percent are and you can empower them with the right content and conversations, you’ll impact the 90 percent of us who lurk and learn and benefit from the 1 and the 9 percent. It’s time for brands to truly build their own channels in the cloud.

So that’s all great. What does it mean?

It means that the 9 percent is a sleeping giant, a model disruptor.

It means that there never were five personas to target; we just made that up.

It means that having five million people in a database is old school. Reaching 25 million or 250 million people where they “live” online is what is relevant.

It means that we are shifting from a world where paid media had all of the power to a world where earned (free) and shared (social channels) and owned media shapes the market and paid is a catalyst to further enhance earned, shared and owned. It’s a 180-degree shift.

It takes a lot of change to shift a model as important and as anchored in our minds as the PESO model (paid, earned, shared and owned). But here is reality: ESO will drive the P.

What it means to all of us who dedicate our professional lives to reach customers, consumers and citizens of the world is more fundamental.

We must become expert at what we call “audience architecture,” so we can truly align with our audience. And we will become experts in “Storytizing,” which is a series of models showing how we can provide the full story to a customer anywhere, anytime. What we care about is reaching the right people with the right content so that they can share it with the audience important to our brand, company or organization. Impressions or website visits or click-throughs or ad views or other surrogate measures fall short. We care about whether or not our story was pulled through multiple channels to reach our full audience and shape their behavior. That is Storytizing.

In the Storytizing era, we’ll know who our audience is, we’ll know how to align with them (type of content, time of day, right people to partner with) and we’ll understand how to use paid media strategically to ensure the content reaches those it did not via earned or shared outreach.

We have to accept that the coverage model is no longer good enough. It is now about getting the right content to the right audience and, when needed, pushing it along further via paid.

Advertising has had a good run. It’s now time to show how the new PESO model will work and why Storytizing is the next big thing for communicators and marketers.

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Bob Pearson is President of W2O Group. He is the author of “PreCommerce” and “Storytizing,” which are available on