‘The More Things Change, the More …’ Well, You Know the Rest

Editor's Note
Thomas Haire

In mid-January, I lost count of how many contacts and sources sent me a link to Naomi Tomky’s article on Racked.com titled, “Instagram Ads Are Basically Infomercials for Millennials.” Whether you work in the world of performance-based marketing or not, the piece is an excellent read — one that starts inside the mind of a millennial who was sold by an ad that popped up in her Instagram feed and grows into an expose on the continuing power of direct-to-consumer marketing across generations.

At one point in the story, Tomky writes of Instagram ads, “They are the ‘As Seen on TV’ (ASOTV) products of a new generation: hyper-targeted, fitting a need you didn’t even realize you had but now need to fill immediately.” Later, comparing the sense of urgency created in an effective DRTV ad to a popular acronym — FOMO, or “fear of missing out” — she adds, “Whether it’s a discount for clicking straight through or simply the threat that you won’t see that exact product again, in millennials’ world, urgency translates to ‘Avoid FOMO, buy now.’ I bought the sweatshirt because I had never seen it before and wasn’t sure if I’d see it again.”

For years in Response, I’ve been writing about (and assigning and editing stories centered on) the through-line from our origin as a publication for DRTV marketers to our focus during the past decade or so on the total convergence of media, technology, and commerce that drives today’s performance-based marketing strategies and tactics no matter the media of choice.

During that time — as it became more clear each year (Month? Week? Day?) that many of the measurement standards “created” in the early days of digital marketing were simply repurposed or expanded-upon versions of the measurement standards first used by offline direct response marketers — we’ve urged those in the direct response space to lead the way for this new generation of marketing or — at worst — to partner with digital technology and e-commerce experts to help build a stronger marketing experience for consumers from start to finish.

Many understood, listened, and have flourished as part of the new marketing universe. Some didn’t — and have been left behind. But, we were always clear in our message — this style of marketing isn’t “new.” Read Tomky’s story again: what’s new is the writer’s (and many of her interviewees’) recognition of how direct-to-consumer marketing works, no matter the media.

Want one final piece of proof that today’s performance-based marketing strategies, tactics, and challenges aren’t all that different from 10 or 20 years ago? One of Tomky’s final notes on her experience is about slow shipping time. Imagine that — no matter if you’re Saks Fifth Avenue, TELEBrands, or a faceless marketer hitting the right target on social media — in the end, it’s all about customer service.

— Thomas Haire, Editor-in-Chief

Twitter: @THrants