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How ‘Always on’ (didn’t) Change(s) our Lives and Marketing


Last summer I got a Samsung Smart watch. It’s a great gadget and it allows me to do a lot of things via my watch instead of via my phone. Quick e-mails, latest news, taking pictures, phone calls even. It’s great.

Yet the question I always get when people see me wearing the watch is ‘does that now mean you have no break anymore? Aren’t you ‘always on’ now?

The answer is no, it in fact means I can better filter things, but that’s not the topic I want to address here. It’s the fact that people ask the question. There are two interesting things about this question.

First of all there is the recognition. I got the same question almost 20 years ago, when I was carrying around my first mobile phone. People asked me back then if it didn’t bother me that people could call me at every single minute. Again the answer doesn’t matter. But the question does. Does anyone get asked this question about their mobile phones these days? Apparently we can indeed get used to everything. And yet when something new comes along, we ask the same question again.

The second thing that is interesting about this is that the question almost always comes from marketers. Those that are on the forefront of new developments. Why are they asking if I now am ‘too much on’? Why aren’t they thinking about the potential as a marketing product?

Always on is changing marketing?

“Always on” has changed the way we should be looking at marketing. Or at least it should be. After all, the opportunities of being always on means we can research on the fly before buying, it means we can be more easily persuaded to do or go somewhere else than our plan was. As marketers this gives us much more opportunities.

This week in Iceland I am moderating the RIMC conference. During this conference we will be connecting ‘always on’ to marketing. How do we as marketers respond to this ‘new’ phenomenon? Which really isn’t that new?

In the run up to the conference I asked a few speakers at the conference to give me their views on the ‘always on’ matter.

I asked them “How has “always on” changed the idea of marketing in the past few years?” Here’s what they said:

Emma Lundgren (Unruly)

“The “always on” (or rahter Always ready) approach is more important now than ever – brands need to be more agile and pro-active to keep up with changing trends and restless audiences. “Moment marketing” is increasingly important in our fast paced society – and to seize the moment you need to be always on!”

Collette Easton (Linkdex)

“A wise man once told me “the opinion you have of yourself, is very different to everyone elses”. Consumer opinion is represented through every online channel, but historically Brands have been guilty of believing that brand business message and consumer opinion were (probably) similar. These days, the many stakeholders who have had an experience with the brand’s product or service own a brands online portrayal, and of course those that are vocal will share this experience online, influencing other users through various channels with varying language.

Consumers will talk about their experiences, journalists/advocates will talk about their experiences, websites represent brand experience with their own agenda and consumers trust this opinion far more than the brand’s own opinion of itself. Therefore brands that are not tracking this landscape, that do not view themselves from outside and take the time to walk in their consumers footsteps, through this myriad of opinion, are creating a marketing vacuum which will only continue to grow as Brand marketing and consumer opinion continue to drift further apart.”

Sante J. Achille (Internet Marketing Evangelist)

“Always on has become a problem for search marketers and has raised the bar: too many are saying too much all at once. We can only process a certain amount of information before we shut down and ignore what is happening around us. Judgements and decisions are guided by feelings of liking and disliking with little deliberation or reasoning – we must address our message to a small Clique of individuals who are interested in our message.”

Pete Handley (theMediaFlow)

“Digital Marketing is always changing. There’s been a substantial shift in recent years where it’s no longer perceived as just a marketing fad, but instead is replacing a lot of forms of traditional marketing as a means of promoting your business values. Once a small element of a larger marketing campaign, digital marketing is now a long term strategy in its own right. From a search perspective you only have to look at the way that Google have altered their algorithms in recent years understand the importance of being “always on.” To theMediaFlow being “always on” doesn’t just mean knowing the most recent updates, but instead means looking to the future and always improving. Digital Marketing, particularly SEO, in the past has had a bad reputation for manipulating search engines and being focused on short term gains but this is really no longer the case. Being “always on” allows brands to be in touch with their customers, and potential customers, emphasizing their values, important messages and to handle feedback instantly.”

Kim Herlung (SMFB Engine)

“In the digital marketing universe we have been talking about “always on” for several years. It has become the basic term in understanding the rational behind modern digital presence. However, the difference between always on 2-3 years ago and always on today is a more nuanced story.

Increasingly blurred lines between social media and advertising, content marketing schemes and traditional digital marketing tactics – has it made the phrase “always on” more demanding to achieve? Always on is not about constant sales-pushes or re-marketing of product offerings as reminders to people who has already visited your site anymore. Today we need to offer far more than that – its about a relevant communication story across many completely different platforms over a long period time. A digital funnel with very different touch points.”

Tejal Patel (Microsoft)

“An always-on approach to marketing has helped to change the definition of marketing itself. It is no longer just about big ad campaigns (Mad Men style) with bursts of activity when it suits the brand. It’s about applying science and understanding the consumer journey and affecting that 24/7. Always-on has made marketing an integral part of business strategy for brands. It has made marketers get much closer to the numbers and the bottom line of businesses and it has helped marketing evolve from adolescence to adulthood.”

Alex Moss (Firecask)

“Being “always on” is now commonplace for the average consumer. Only 5 years ago I remember introducing what I thought were simple ideas to large in-house teams who didn’t see the benefit – mostly because none of them really understood digital and its positive impact on a brand. Today, those same teams are dwarfed by the new digital marketing teams. This illustrates scale of digital marketing as well as its importance to the core of most businesses in today’s digital world.

Adapting is part of our job, and always will be. Being late to any game can result in bad experiences with consumers, which can be catastrophic for the brand.”



Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.