Two very interesting articles came out this week – and each (to my knowledge) are unaware of each other. Together, they are yet two more extremely interesting data points in a trend that we are seeing front and center in the marketing and advertising world.

The opportunity that we have is to optimize our strategies for the acquisition of audiences – and leverage those audiences into business value. At a broader level this is a fundamental shift in our marketing strategy. We are moving from a model where consumer “attention” is the currency that we are trying to attain, and instead we should be focused squarely on how we can access those audiences whenever we want.

Optimize Toward Audience Strategy

 The first article – featured in MinOnline –  focused on how legacy media was beginning to put an intense focus on audiences over attention. The idea is that media companies are now looking to evolve into new models where first-party data could be leveraged to value audiences at different levels. A subscriber might be worth X, but a non-subscriber might even be worth more if they have a higher tendency to take more actions.  As the article put it:

“[publishers] should run – not walk – towards technologies that help them create unique IDs of users, so content behaviors can be tracked not only across platforms, but even channels like events. It is only from a unified view of users that their intent can be gleaned, and that is gold.”

The article concludes by relaying the story of The Economist, and how they have grown their subscriber base to 1.6 million by placing an intense focus on understanding how and why people subscribe vs. just visit the magazine.

Marketing Is An Audience Strategy

The second article comes from a new study released by B2B analyst firm Sirius Decisions.  In it, they discuss how CMO’s are beginning to focus on customer experience (this isn’t news of course), but how this move is instigating a new strategy for CMO’s to become “audience-centric”.

The challenge, as this article points out, is that businesses don’t understand their customers well enough to become customer-centric. Sirius Decisions estimates that fewer than on-quarter of CMOs have “total access to a comprehensive view of the customer”.  Thus, the ability to develop experiences that can pull data and provide the actionable insight has become critical.

As the article puts it:

“It looks as though B2B CMOs also see the potential for interactive content and visual storytelling to satisfy buyer’s content needs. This type of content beat out mobile marketing and customer communities as CMOs’ top marketing trend planned for implementation in the next 2 years.  B2B buyers are indeed increasingly moving toward this type of content: research released earlier this year found 41% strongly agreeing that they’ve shifted over the past year.”

And, interestingly, the Sirius Decisions study also found that training and education were lacking here. While almost 8 in 10 CMOs reported that they offer some kind of skills training and professional development, two-thirds of them spend $1,500 or less on training per person each year.  As they said, “the lack of organizational commitment to training and professional enablement is reflected in a lack of formal structures.”  Luckily, we can help with that.

Access Is More Than Attention

These two articles indicate a true trend.  Now, whether we call that content marketing – or just developing better insight into the audiences we are reaching – both ideas hinge on one thing: access to the audience.

And, of course we are all in on this idea. If you’re interested in more on this we:

Talked about the rise of the Audience Strategist as a key component of an audience strategy.

Talked about Audience Audits and the high level approach to doing them.

Why we believe that Audiences might be the most valuable asset that marketing manages.

There are a lot of things that we don’t know right now. The whole process of evolving into this model will be exploratory for most brands.  And we will be right there exploring and leading the way.

And, as always, if we can help you develop the skills of your team, or audit your audiencelet us know.  


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