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Advertising’s Tectonic Shift

A remarkable transformation is underway in advertising, redefining how businesses connect with their customers and measure the impact of their marketing efforts. This shift involves engaging customers at a most crucial touchpoint—when they’re making their decision to buy a product or service.

Yes, the Tom Cruise movie, “Minority Report,” is upon us. The movie depicts a surveillance society tracking individuals with CCTV cameras and retinal scans to feed them targeted ads. It’s not far-fetched. Soon, you’ll walk past a store in the mall and a coupon pops up on your cellphone screen. You’ll shop online for a mattress and, lo and behold, your search triggers mattress brands and prices all suitable for you—their banner ads will follow you for days.

What’s happening here? Advertisers are buying customer data and using it to tailor precise messages at a crucial juncture—the customer’s point of decision.

Such advertising systems might not be fully in place to benefit specialty contracting marketers, but they will be soon. Imagine a skilled craftsman looking for work and reviewing job postings on LinkedIn. You have some positions to fill, and so your new, data-driven ad campaign triggers your company and job opportunity to pop up on this individual’s screen, right in the middle of his search. That’s what you want. Not just brand awareness but specific communication: a hyper-personalized message that gets you results.

Commerce Media
Why is it important to hyper-personalize your advertising? Because customer behaviors are changing. People are gravitating toward short-form mobile videos, podcasts and gaming platforms, all of which function less like media channels and more like tight-knit communities. Also, people are running short on time; they need help making decisions.

Hence, the rise of what McKinsey & Company calls “commerce media”—services that enable advertisers to buy data to better connect with their customers, particularly to reach them when the customer signals their interest.

Actually, customers expect you to reach out to them.

“Seventy-one percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions—and three quarters will switch if they don’t like their experience,” McKinsey says.

To succeed in this new world of advertising, you’ll need to form partnerships. Perhaps you can tap the members of a project team, or form a marketing alliance with other trades, or engage influencers who have large social media followings. The point is, you should start researching commerce media now and get ahead of the curve.

Consumer brands are already working hard to reach their customers at the point of decision. They’re engaging commerce media services, buying their data, preparing contextual ads and outperforming their campaigns of the past.

Hyper-Targeted Content
Don’t feel left out. Targeted advertising can open doors for small businesses, too. Small companies, just like the big boys, can leverage generative AI to create hyper-targeted content—and they can do so with less investment than before.

“[Generative AI] has the potential to deliver value quickly, unlike other technologies that reward companies only after years of investment,” says the McKinsey article, “How generative AI can boost consumer marketing.”

Maybe this is easier said than done. Even so, it’s time—because of the evolving advertising landscape—that your marketing teams reset their thinking, adapt to these new advertising approaches and realign expectations on how to measure the results.

“Change is coming,” McKinsey says, “and companies that sit on the sidelines risk being left behind.”
McKinsey estimates the potential of this new, hyper-personalized, paradigm shift advertising to be worth over $1.3 trillion. You can no longer afford to drop lots of picture posts on LinkedIn. You have to reinvent your approach to advertising. You need a new playbook.

A photo of Mark Johnson.
Mark L. Johnson writes for the walls and ceilings industry. He can be reached via

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