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The Attention Economy

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to keynote at a conference to give my view of the future of Marketing in 2030. Now if there is one thing that is guaranteed to get people apoplectic it’s not knowing what the future holds. It frustrates people…especially in business…the economists always tell us there is nothing business dislikes more than uncertainty. It’s true, just think about Brexit here in the UK. The corollary of indecision has stymied investment, recruitment and quite frankly any jollity that did exist post GFC. As we enter an age of uncertainty we need to have different tools and skills to help us cope with how we manage the future as worrying gets us nowhere.

The trouble is the rate of change is accelerating and if you can’t cope what hope do you have in maintaining clarity of thought moving forward? As Salim Ismail from Singularity University said: “Todays’ (digital) revolution is like 30 Gutenberg moments all happening at once.”

The big problem about the future is that I don’t have the right answer and even if I gave people one that was 50% on point it would be wrong for them. The key is YOU design your own future so we need to understand what makes us tick, thrive and pump our juice, so when the future tsunami hits, by deciphering who you are and what your business stands for…. you will surf that wave out baby!

When I get asked to define what the future holds for Marketing, the truth is no one knows. What I tell brands is to evaluate themselves before worrying about the future. I tell them to focus on the now and be aware of the future.

But here is what I do know. As we shift from the attention economy into the experience and consciousness economies there will always be good and bad advertising. There will still be disruption and repetition alongside brands that develop engagements more relevant and utilitarian, that don’t just add noise but substance and meaning.

So as Global Chief Creative Officer of Unlockd I must ask myself, what does the future hold for mobility? We almost know with certainty it will not be a mobile phone. Humans are mobile and the tech evolves with our needs. The smart phone will become miniaturised to fit into our bodies or more likely a mixed reality lens which will take the form of glasses that project onto our eyeballs or a contact lens over the retina or even a nanobot that sits behind the eye plugged directly into the retinal spine.

The one thing we know for sure is that technology is changing our physiology and last week at Mindshare Huddle I discussed how the brains of Gen Y and Z have less capacity for storage as technology grants us infinite information at our fingertips. The way that we remember will be through our data exhaust, through our data history and this is where I’m confident a new native advertising technique will arise which I’m coining Behavioural Loyalty.

When machines communicate with machines and we don’t recall or recognise which brands we have interacted with it will be our behaviours businesses will monetise through loyalty points. When the old mechanics of reaching people don’t return the attention brands require, or when we move to brain to brain decentralised comms it will become more difficult to get a truly emotive return. Behavioural loyalty will be a new technique that gives people points based on the things they DO; rewarding them with goods or services in their real/virtual context.

So, can we see the future today? Of course, those sprigs of future growth are here but not yet mature. When I think about what we will be doing around mobility it will be disruptive, and this is why I believe loyalty will stretch to become a value mechanic based on all behaviours and why we at Unlockd believe our business today is the precursor for the marketing tomorrow.

JC Oliver, Chief Creative Officer at Unlockd