Quite simply it is the human desire for interaction.
All advertising is a form of learning whereby the advertiser is asking people to change their behaviour after learning the benefits of the products or services on offer. However, we all tend to filter out information that we do not want to hear. This clearly alters the effectiveness of conventional advertising in quite a dramatic way.
The final purchase decision is invariably a compromise and this leads to a certain amount of anxiety; the worry that perhaps the decision was not the best or the right one. In order to minimize this anxiety the purchaser seeks to reinforce their choice and begins to take more notice of their chosen product’s marketing communications. Additionally we have created a media society during the past 40 or 50 years, where the whole communication process has been de-humanized and depersonalized.
Together with an extraordinary reduction in interaction because conventional media together with advertising and marketing have become a one-way practice whereby information is disseminated in a passive form. People have this desire to be taken account of. To affect change, to learn and personalize their relationship with their environment. There are a phenomenal number of reasons that cause people to interact, going far beyond just giving them things.
When people agree to participate in truly interactive marketing programmes they are told that their efforts and feedback are of positive help to the advertisers. Additionally the attraction of interactive communication is that it is a return
to the prehistoric human fascination with telling tales!
Since the beginnings of any civilised society the market place was the hub of civilization, a place to which traders returned from remote lands with exotic spices, silks, monkeys, parrots, jewels – and fabulous stories. Interactive Communication, properly executed, more resembles an ancient bazaar than fits the business models companies try and impose upon it.
People respond to interactive opportunities because it seems to offer some intangible quality long ‘missing in action’ from modern life. In sharp contrast to the alienation wrought by homogenized broadcast media, interactive opportunities provide a space in which the human voice would be rapidly rediscovered. Unlike the lockstep conformity imposed by television, advertising, and corporate propaganda, interactive communication gives new legitimacy – and free rein – to play.
People long for more connection between what we do for a living and what we genuinely care about. We long for release from anonymity, to be seen as who we feel ourselves to be rather than the sum of abstract metrics and parameters. We long to be part of a world that makes sense rather than accept the accidental alienation imposed by market forces too large to grasp; to even contemplate.
Remember the market place, of old. Caravans arrived across burning deserts bringing dates and figs, snakes and parrots, monkeys, strange music and stranger tales.
The market place was the heart of the city, the kernel, the hub.
Like the past and the future it stood at the crossroads. People worked early and went there for coffee and vegetables, eggs and wine, for pots and carpets. They went there to look and listen and to marvel, to buy and to be amused. But mostly they went to meet each other…to talk and interact! Markets are conversations.
So…what went so horribly wrong? From the perspective of corporations, many of which by the twentieth century had become bigger and more powerful than ancient city-states, nothing went wrong.
Things did change however.
Commerce is a natural part of human life but is has become increasingly unnatural over the intervening centuries, gradually divorcing itself from the very people on whom it depends, whether workers or customers. The result has been to create a huge chasm between buyers and sellers.
Conventional advertising has failed the natural human need for social interaction. We have created a media society during the last 30 or 40 years where there is an extraordinary reduction in interaction because of the one-way and more passive form of information that exists. People desire to be taken account of, to affect change, learn and personalize their relationships with their environment. These psychological and sociological factors are part of the incentive to interact with advertising.