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Table of contents
Conventional discussion: media and society
Technology and communication
Heritage of the war
P to C
Effects of digitalization
The real audience: Identities
Schizophrenic marketing era
Old school fading out, rating marketing fading in
New challenge: Advocates
The new revolution is at the door
P and C out ?
And so what?
Within its historical journey, communication has now reached a very interesting stage where the target audience will not stay conventional anymore. Recently the new era of digitalization has reshaped this field, but now we will face a much more radical change in this discipline, which will completely redefine all of marketing science.
Although communication that focused on rhetorical and philosophical discussion blossomed in Ancient Greece, it has been the main determinant of the social and personal relationships fall where it is today, with the touch and support of technology in the historical process. In the 20th century, digitization, followed by the arrival of PCs, the Internet, and smartphones, changed our lifestyles radically. As the other component entities of the ecosystem, marketing and communication were not exceptions and have also been affected by all these radical changes. The transition from analogue to digital communications, from conventional marketing activities to online ones, was not easy. After almost two decades, the system seems to be established with new concepts like influencers, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.1 But now there is a new information and communication revolution approaching. It seems obvious that it will once again change the whole ecosystem of lifestyles with all its components. The adaptation to the first wave has not been achieved, yet a second one approaches. What will be the effect then? This work tries to cover a chronology about communication and marketing and then forecast the next steps in order to answer this question.
Conventional discussion: media and society
When we observe the chronological development of communication, it is not wrong to say that its path intersects and feeds on dozens of other elements that make it so effective.
First, the invention of writing, the cornerstone of communication, is considered as the first information revolution, and the second one is the arrival of the printing press, which is the most effective and transformative media element in history. The printing machine, which enabled the replication, mass production, and distribution of written materials, has been a communications milestone in the sense of directing society to the dissemination of newspapers and similar media elements. While the mass media were not yet widely and easily accessible to societies, empires, and administrations, these entities applied other methods to send messages to communities, such as through constructing dazzling architectural monuments. The creation of many architectural masterpieces was probably motivated by a need to communicate.2
Of course, there was not only a sociopolitical transformation with enlightenment. When the individual gained strength and an awareness of ethnic and national identity, new social layers emerged, along with conflicts. And besides, with technological developments, communication changed fundamentally, gained great dynamism, and had an important impact on society. It was realized that through communication one could orient and manipulate societies. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the idea became accepted that books, newspapers, and similar media could influence and direct the masses. By the 20th century, during the period called "La Belle Epoque", when art reached its zenith, communication also experienced a huge leap in terms of its impact. The media which is the basis of communication and which enables access to the masses is the main tool for people to learn the concepts about life and the life that forms the memory of societies. This is a great way to make sure that you know what you're talking about, and that you're able to socialize and align with other people.3 There is a night-and-day difference between a society where news and information from the media is controlled, filtered, and even censored and one where news and information freely reaches the audience through a multi-channel structure.4
Technology and communication
The invention and use of the telegraph was, of course, an important development, but the introduction of radio to social life, which we can consider as the first major revolutionary electronic mass medium, increased the impact of communication on the masses more than ever before. To be able to appeal to the five senses, which is at the core of communication, undoubtedly still makes that mass communication tool attractive. The radio has influenced the masses with the sense of hearing, and the imagining process of what is being heard also has triggered this influence. Here we need to make an important point.5
The use of radio in different ways in the first half of the 20th century is perhaps the most telling indicator of this. In the First and especially in the Second World War, radio was used very effectively in terms of directing and manipulating millions as a propaganda element. The most important factor in the role of radio compared to the newspaper is the speed of the news flow, as well as the passive way in which the audience receives news and information. After the Second World war, radio had a golden age as it became a standard accessory in cars and became the number one music medium, especially in the United States. The radio in the 1950s shaped the popular culture, mostly in terms of music.6,7
Heritage of the war
Another revolutionary development in terms of post-war communication is, of course, the introduction of advertising and marketing in the most effective way. It would not be wrong to say that new marketing and communication tools, having followed people’s experience with political manipulation during the war years, have become the new weapon of capitalism. This was especially true in the 1950s, as communication became adapted to the advertising world for propaganda and manipulation. Subconscious, subliminal advertisements were also used during this period; these, together with graphic poster designs, visual ads that replaced the news of war in cinema halls, and the synergy formed by the population boom and new consumer purchasing, brought communication to a much more important place.
Of course, communication and, accordingly, advertising and marketing had to become the basic dynamics of capitalism to reach the masses in the right way and to persuade them to buy and to consume. In the same period, it was revealed that the market has many components, and before taking any action it is crucial for companies to undertake market research. This revelation triggered the development of market research techniques. In this case, communication was directed towards the social identities that people represented instead of their individual roles such as father, woman, or single man. The way to reach these identities was clear, of course: radio, newspapers, movies, posters. By the 1960s, there was another revolutionary change in communication and of course in advertising and marketing. TV is in the house.
P to C
In the new post-war world order, the importance of the protection of borders, the stratification of countries, strict customs rules, and new production technologies were the main obstacles to consumer sales. It was a challenge to sell products from one country to another. Similar barriers were mechanisms such as high taxes and monopolies against foreign products, which countries set up to protect their own production power, and logistic difficulties. Even so, communication and advertising continued to evolve by increasing the impact and power of marketing. By the 1960s, the use of the media to foster consumption was helped by new scientific theories and research, which became a field in itself. In the 1960s, there was a large influence from Jerome McCarthy’s book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. The book promoted the “4Ps”: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.8 Advertising and marketing agencies as well as companies with departments focusing on this field strengthened the idea of supporting the economy not only by production and sales but also by communication means and persuasion techniques to reach the consumer. This new approach has been accepted unquestionably. Economic competition continued to be product oriented, but the need to reach and direct the consumer began to be made. As marketing and communication grew stronger on TV and radio, and as creativity became more and more appreciated and admired, scientific research began to focus on people's decision-making mechanisms and their role in economic activities. In the 1980s, the world still featured bipolar power centres and closed economies, but in the 1990s, humanity began to experience simultaneous, historical revolutions in different areas. After the invention of writing and printing, a third information revolution took place, with digitalization and the expansion of personal computers.9 This followed the end of the bipolar world and globalization, with closed economies replaced by worldwide trade. And finally, the Internet connected communications technologies, satellite communications, computers, and digital infrastructures. The economic system and advertising and marketing were fundamentally changed.
First of all, after the fact that closed economies became then permeable, international and even global markets have eliminated monopoly in products and the difficulty of reaching the product. The product was not the focus of economic activity, but the focus was the growing base of consumers and new ways to reach them. The consumer has gained more importance than ever because, in the competitive environment, consumer alternatives have expanded. In this case, the 4P principle that dominated marketing field for more than 30 years had to be revised; in its place was the 4Cs: Consumer, Cost, Convenience, and Communication.10
In the period when the media was monopolistic and restricted, information and news flow were limited to newspapers, radio, and TV. and its effectiveness was less than other media, it was no doubt relatively simple to reach, influence and manage marketing activities to the masses. The masses could be reached very effectively through physical sources, as opposed to digital media as in the 21st century. Market research is being carried out in this context, and strategies were being created through these physical identities. As mentioned above, with the globalization of the 1990s and its social effects, all economic activities and, of course, marketing and communication have changed radically.
Effects of digitalization
So how did the ecosystem change with the digitization of information? First of all, the most important effect of this transformation had been on the individual. While individuals are socialized at a local level within society, the information revolution made it possible to exchange information with people from different cultures and nationalities, who reflected different opinions and lifestyles. Individuals and groups with similar interests but separated by distance have the opportunity to come together in a digital environment. In the virtual environment, possibilities for new social formations are opened. Different social groups, from sports club supporters to aquarium enthusiasts, from graduates of the same school to minorities living in a particular region, have the chance to relate with each other and organize themselves in a virtual environment. In this case, a new marketing and communications field was born to create customized messages for these virtual target groups and virtual sub-cultures. Previous marketing approaches could no longer reach and influence them. These groups have revealed the need to redefine the archetype or segmentation methods used by marketing and communication in their efforts towards the target audience. To sum up, in the first period of digitalization, the first concept which changes the aspect of marketing and communication was virtual groups.11
The real audience: Identities
Digitization and virtual groups have another effect on the individual. In addition to their identity, people have become able to create any virtual profile they wish. People can get the e-mail addresses they choose, the nicknames they want on platforms, the avatars they desire on forums. At some point, due to the technical infrastructure, it was possible to create and spread real identities as well as identities that individuals dreamed of being. In fact, it has come to a point that people recognize each other not by their real physical identity but by their virtual identity, and not by their names but by their pseudonyms or avatars. If we open up a little more, the identity is how the individual is defined in the eyes of others. In other words, like the status of man, the identity of others or even the identity of the whole society, is different from one another. These identities can be classified, hidden, or made public.12 In this case, it is necessary to distinguish between individual identity and social identity. The person tries to describe, define, and explain the identity of himself as he tries to create the way he wants to define himself, through his choice of costumes, eating, and drinking, his behaviour, his faith, his music choices—in short, the elements that constitute his individual lifestyle.13 In the formation of social identity, the individual has absolutely no influence and control. However, while creating a virtual identity, the individual has the chance to become an identity that he cannot impersonate because of real-life restrictions or pressures.
Schizophrenic marketing era
While this was the case, it was necessary to reach these virtual identities as well as real identities as a target audience for communication and marketing. Thus, a new era has opened in communication and marketing, which involves the obligation to create two different messages and strategies for two different identities of the same person. I call this "schizophrenic marketing" because it aims to reach the same person who has two or more different identities.
In addition, marketing has met with a new kind of media involving customized message marketing for forums and digital groups. By the mid-2000s, social media emerged, which changed not only social relations but also all related areas.
Social media was originally perceived as a means to access old friends and socialize with unfamiliar people with the same interests. Then, with the development of interesting additional applications, social media became an effective means for corporations, brands, and marketers to access the masses directly. One must also note that social media was initially somewhat belittled and underestimated. However, it was seen later that social media had a revolutionary effect on the social ecosystem, unlike other digital media.14
There is another point to underline here, of course: the mistake of defining social media as a single structure, with a uniform context. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Xing, and others all respond to different needs and have different effects. And the behaviour that emerged in a short period of 10 years, which people previously would have described as strange, has been propagated in these different ways. We can say that these strange behaviours, like sharing the moments when one eats, drinks, kisses, or even engages in the most intimate actions, are just a few of the things that one could not have seen 20 years ago.
The new approach in marketing, discovered in the early 2000s and designed by the conditions of the early digitalization period, was thought to be stable. However, it did not take long to understand that this approach for digital marketing was only valid for a certain period of time. which is now, however, although the speed of the digital world is very high, the basis and fundamentals of marketing created and discarded according to the habits of the 20th century, could not change from one day to the next. As a result, the marketing area was unable to demonstrate the necessary reflexes for rapid change or to develop new strategies and services appropriate for the new media.
To summarize, in the new situation, while marketing should have developed new ways to access the customers who have both real and digital identities and who have more ways of belonging to groups online than in real life, this did not happen. Digital marketing was perceived only as buying a place on many visited sites, being ranked at the top in search engines, and appearing as banners on sites like YouTube. However, the actual masses to be reached were wandering in another way in the digital world. The digital world's giants like Facebook and Amazon have begun to write algorithms to have individual, specific communication and marketing messages. They get critical data from devices such as voice recognition systems on smartphones and applications that each individual uses; this allows the companies to specifically define the interests of every single individual.
Old school fading out, rating marketing fading in
In this case, the consumer expectation with interaction was also in the direction of the customized message. Other digital ads, just like TV ads, lose their effectiveness. This mistrust and questioning of companies' messages, combined with the ability to reach people unfamiliar with the digital world, has created a new habit. When purchasing a product or service, considering the experience of people who have tried this product or service, or even contacting them to ask specific questions, became the new norm. This habit has shown itself primarily on voluntary membership sites such as TripAdvisor.
Rating rules the new world
Sites that know that volunteering will not take too long, and with the motivation to increase traffic to their sites or applications and desiring to increase their brand values, began to use various different appealing tactics to attract them. In fact, they did not have to do much, because everyone who wants to buy a product or service has become much more affected by positive or negative reviews than by the company's messages. This is the arrival of the rating marketing era. In a sense, the value of the company's communications in decision making has decreased significantly. In the new era, someone desiring to book a hotel, instead of relying on the hotel's ads, visits TripAdvisor or a similar site and decides by relying on the experience of someone who had already stayed in that hotel.
In addition to the sites providing review services for areas such as restaurants, hotels, and technology, social media has produced thousands or millions of followers of those who claim to be experts. And of course these sites started advertising products and services in exchange for money or other gains. Marketing has found a new and much more efficient tool to reach the audience. A new digital marketing method was born when companies and institutions decided that conducting marketing through these digital opinion leaders instead of direct advertising and marketing methods was more effective. On the other hand, a new role was created for a kind of brand representative or advocate, as some people prefer to call themselves.15
New challenge: Advocates
This is perhaps the biggest challenge for companies in the 21st century. Beyond loyal customers, to create a brand volunteer who will reach the customer in a fierce and ruthless competitive environment where the choice is very easy and accessible. Since this brand reputation axis is more and more based on volunteers or advocates, it is not possible to determine which customers will volunteer, nor to invest in these individuals. As a matter of fact, there is only one option left to further brand identity: providing service to all customers without discrimination, setting a high standard, and leaving a trail of good service to create brand volunteers.
Old-school critics, travellers, lost importance, because anyone having a social media account is able to make reviews and to gather a lot more followers. The fact that the way to make these new individual critics and amateur commentators into brand representatives or advocates is not about personalized outreach but about generalised customer service with high standards has not yet been understood by many companies. On the other hand, companies that changed their mindsets and approaches in this area and invested in customer service gained an important place in the competitive environment. Companies conscious of the fact that customer service is not limited to the sales moment but also to after-sales support, and that have invested in customer satisfaction, have gained a competitive advantage, regardless of the product. Today, the media used to search for product or service information is not Google or similar search engines but shopping platforms such as Amazon, or Google Maps, or other applications that rely on geographic information. In other words, to find the best restaurant or doctor in the area, consumers are now using this type of navigation service, not the search engine. The main reason for this is that these applications also incorporate shared consumer experiences and rating systems related to the relevant company. My assertion is that high ratings are not enough to choose the company or product, but that low ratings are very important to give up that product, service, or company. A negative experience shared many times by different consumers increases the credibility of the review and has a big impact on new users; it is very difficult to change this even by spending a lot of money on marketing and communication.
On the other hand, while analysing the rating, there are some new things to consider. For example, the profile of the rated person is important, as are the comments he made earlier. In addition, it is very important to look at the dates of negative or positive comments and analyse whether they are recent or not, and to consider dramatic changes between negative or positive comments in terms of chronology.
In this context, the importance of what a company has said about its products or services is limited and doesn't make any sense. This type of communication can now be just an awakening, a trigger. In consumers’ decision-making process, other consumers’ comments are much more important. In this case, the companies need brand advocates to express themselves correctly and positively to others, as well as the communication they use to express themselves. At this point, the problem has entered the field of real communication and marketing so quickly and radically that companies have been caught unprepared and unable to adapt to this innovation. There were two resistances at this point. The first is that the employees of the communication and marketing departments of the companies could not adapt themselves to the new ecosystem, so this new decision-making mechanism is not easily managed by the companies, just as it is in the case of neuromarketing. Companies did not want to leave their comfort zone. This is a very complex process; that is, creating a consumer who would be an advocate for new consumers is both difficult and insufficient in terms of human resources. This kind of approach has not yet entered the curriculum in universities in communication and marketing. There, of course, the academicians of this field show resistance.
The new revolution is at the door
In addition, another development has caught the communication and marketing world on one foot both in practice and in theory. Devices such as Amazon Alexa Google home, which use voice recognition systems, were initially thought to be toys but were then connected to other digital devices in the home.
In the future, voice-controlled or even sound-controlled devices, which are particularly important for elderly and disabled people, will also have a say in marketing and communication, and will provide great convenience for these groups. The biggest advantage of such devices that have recently entered our lives is that they allow us to shop. Shopping on these devices, which was first considered with scepticism, has become more widespread and will inevitably have great importance. The transportation of shopping in this area will undoubtedly carry the communication and marketing activities with this AI in an inevitable way. In the long run, because the brain always prefers easy shortcuts, people will leave the choice to AI when other factors are not paramount. My claim is that in the long run we will leave some brand selections to AI.
So we are facing a new era, and these devices will become the new target group for communication and marketing. In other words, if someone says to Amazon's device, "Alexa, add milk to my shopping list", and does not tell the device which brand to add, or if the option to add the cheapest product in the settings is preferred, then the decision will be left to Alexa. In this case, when the brand purchase decision is dominated by Alexa or any other AI, there would be nothing more natural for marketing and communication than developing and producing strategies and campaigns for these agents.16,17
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
And of course, this new marketing and communication will be based on algorithms that are completely different from conventional and classical marketing. In this new era of marketing and communication, a B2B relationship will be created with Amazon, Apple, and various voice recognition devices and companies that provide these purchasing services.
This means that to be top-ranked by Alexa, brands will have to give a share of sales or profit, or pay a certain fee. Of course, the issue is not limited to Alexa. Every area where Internet technologies dominate will be affected. For example, in a scenario of cars that communicate with a parking lot, communication and marketing could be involved in deciding which parking place to choose. Just like marketing activities implemented through search engines, this new situation also faces a new stage of marketing. And this time, the focus of activity is far from conventional marketing. As Internet applications and devices become more and more widespread, this new type of marketing activity will become more efficient and dominant.
P and C out ?
In other words, marketing will no longer be an activity that is traditionally carried out for people, but it will become a communication area that aims at AI as well. In this context, 4P, 4C, and similar approaches that have determined the limits and definitions of marketing will be replaced by digital algorithms. In other words, it would not be wrong to say that the conventional marketing era is over and that a new digital marketing time, still undefined and unknown, has begun.
I think this new situation would be more interesting if it had another social impact. With digitalization and the domination of smartphones in our lives, a new mass public has emerged, which reads less and responds more to visual media. With voice recognition, obviously there will be a decrease in our ability to write. In a simple explanation, it is possible to say that in the future, a significant part of society will be left without reading, or in other words, a society described as ignorant and illiterate by today's definitions will dominate the world. A few decades ago, while foreseeing that technology would lead to an information society and that society would become knowledgeable, nobody predicted that it would be a kind of danger that would destroy the habit of reading and writing at the next stages.
Over the past 30 years, the IT revolution, today represented by the Internet and the smartphone, has produced revolutionary changes new to humankind. Smartphones in everyday life are no longer a luxury but a necessity. Many people are making their lives through the business they run on smartphones. A new ecosystem has emerged in the private and public spheres, and smartphones and Internet connectivity are at the centre of this ecosystem. This new ecosystem, of course, has its own way of communication, marketing, advertising structures, and procedures. Certainly the transition from the previous period to this new period was not easy. It wasn't easy for the whole structure to suddenly change shells. However, many people believe that a communication, marketing, and advertising structure has been established that keeps pace with the needs of the digital age. This might be arguable, but the truth is that we are now at the edge of a new era with a new ecosystem.
And so what?
Many people think that the information revolution was about PCs, the Internet, video games, and then smartphones, social media, blogs, and so on. It is not. It is more complicated and complex than this, with an impact on the whole ecosystem of daily life, including economic activities. It would be wise to state that the change due to the information revolution is just beginning rather than fading out, as there are a lot of other devices, applications, and technologies coming to our lives every single day, and all of them are as important as the previously cited ones. In other words, a completely new information-related revolution is at the door, which will make more radical changes than the previous one. Voice recognition devices combined with AI, which bring ease of use for all layers of society, will not only be very quickly spread but also will radically dominate and change our lives. They will be quickly spread because handicapped people, the older generation, and people who were unable to properly use PCs or smartphones will easily use them. Besides, AI will also respond to many difficulties. AI and voice-recognition devices will dominate our daily lives, as they will be able to do many actions because they will be connected to other things in the home, including health care and entertainment devices. In other words, they will more and more be facilitators in our daily lives. This will enhance the “digicrimination” we are already having.18
The shift in daily lives and routines will also change the way we communicate, and as a result, marketing actions and activities will also change. This change will be different than the previous analogue-to-digital transition—first, because it is more complicated, with more components and stakeholders, and second, because the audience to be reached is now not only human beings but also AIs, or in other words algorithms. A new era of “smart things” is coming, and this time the information revolution triggered by this arrival will be much bigger than the one we faced 30 years ago.
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- Quote paper
- Okan Tansu (Author), 2019, From 4P to 4C and now to 01000001 01101100 01100101 01111000 01100001, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/464926