We’re in a very funny time with regard to our relationship with technology. While smartphones and apps have made our lives more convenient, they’ve also opened the door for the line to be crossed skewing the lines between reality and illusion. Fake news, chat bots and marketing trolls have become digital versions of real life bug-a-boos we have allowed to infiltrate our every day. While the 2016 Election keyed us into a lot of what lied beneath the surface, they do present areas of opportunity, specifically for ethnic marketers. Here are 4 ways ethnic advertising can thrive in this new age of potentially destructive technology.
Automated Ad Buying
Remember media buyers? It used to be a highly skilled profession. Today they are replaced by computer buying programs that target consumers not based on demographics or socio-graphic statistical information, but rather the sites they visit or terms they google. However, Google behavior doesn’t exactly account for cultural nuance. While the razor thin margins for general market advertising necessitates such cost savings, ethnic advertising is about relationship building and that not achieved in a single impression but rather an investment over time. Ethnic advertisers committed to such long term gains are now afforded this new path to victory abandoned by general marketers provided the adjust their strategy from point-of-purchase and impulse behavior to brand building.
Along with the media buyers, technology is taking out journalist as well. If it wasn’t enough that newspapers and magazines were dying, fake news is confusing everyone. However, the ethnic communities have been dealing with fake news for generations.
Whether it was the Dominican barber, the Cantonese grocery store owner or the Trinidadian cab driver, sifting through the embellishments, finding the truth is often part of the adventure. Ethnic tastemakers are great sources of information within the community but are inherently inaccurate and unreliable.
Conversely, mainstream media has historically been presented a fact based. However recent trends have drawn skepticism opening the door for media to provide advertising directed at ethnic consumers. With more and more consumers seeking third and fourth tier platforms for news and opinions, hyperlocal and ethnic targeting is becoming more affordable and a more efficient means for targeting specific groups.
The consequence is distrust. In the early days of the internet, web forms that collected data and cookies that followed our movements were considered an intrusion until Google showed us the benefits of a curated marketing experience. The retargeting trolls have eroded that trust and the only way to gain it back is by building credibility. Ethnic consumers are above all loyal. Loyal to their culture and loyal to the brands they choose to represent them, yes represent. Ethnic advertising need to use the laziness of their competition to their advantage and builds credibility among targeted multicultural consumers. He who ethnic consumers trust, wins the business.
We will always buy from those that we trust and trust those who look like us more. However, bots don’t look like any of us. Bots are software applications that run prescribed scripts and perform simple but repetitive tasks more efficiently and cost effective than human capital. We are seeing bots everywhere. Chat bots pop up now on sights enticing visitors to engage in a customer service query. Some of these programs are so sophisticated, some visitors actually think they’re engaging with a real human.
Some experts believe bots are the future of marketing. By helping marketers save money, bots swing the diversity pendulum back toward homogenous. While bots are becoming more undetectable, they’re inherently sterile. They lack any differentiating factors that appeal to ethnic consumers. The general marketer is betting the losses they’ll incur by avoiding specific and ethnic endearing interactions will be offset by gains due to the savings on human resources.
Some might argue, the growing multicultural buying power has necessitated cheaper solutions, like bots, for marketers unwilling to court ethnic consumers. This opens up a huge avenue for those willing to invest in ethnic advertising. By subscribing to a strategy that embrace one’s cultural differences, marketers can gain market share on the competition. History has shown us that a long-term investment in quality relationship building is far more sustainable than cost-saving technological solutions.