Consumers are the new ad agency

Credit: Tom Fishburne

These are fighting words, especially from an ad guy such as myself, but I see several reasons to argue the case.

1. CONSUMER GENERATED CONTENT HAS EARNED RESPECT: Last week the New York Times contained a provocative piece noting that the most popular Super Bowl ad was created by consumers (Doritos). This is just one, highly visible, example of consumers recast as content generators and publishers. This new role has been formalized by in-stream advertising platforms like like Ad.ly that enable consumers to profit from their newfound influence by advertising brands and products.

2. A POWER SHIFT TO CONSUMERS: Brands and consumers are now in a two-way dialogue and that means that the weight of conversation is shared equally between them. As such, the responsibility for the result of a brand’s marketing efforts rests partly in consumers’ hands.

3. A RISING VOICE: Social media has empowered consumers to find a voice, get organized and express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction about a brand or product. This can be in response to a statement by the CEO (as in the boycott of Whole Foods over insensitive healthcare statements), the launch of a new app (such as the twitter protest over the Pepsi’s Amp Cola app), or concerns over a product (such as with the Toyota’s current recall of millions of vehicles).

4. PEER TO PEER MARKETING: Consumers are increasingly looking to each other to decide what brands to support and what products to buy. This is because they are weary of misleading or purely self-serving advertising and now possess the tools to bypass traditional media and communicate among themselves.

Digital thought leader, Rishad Tobaccowala, from VivaKi tweeted a statement last week that succinctly sums up the new role of consumers as advertising agency:

“Social media is broadcast word of mouth.”

So as a traditional ad guy engaged in the new media space, I’d like to introduce traditional ad agencies to their new creative partners: consumers.

Do you see yourself as an ad agency? Or is this overstating the facts?

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