“I’ve always felt like data and technology have led advertisers astray a little bit,” says Anush Prabhu, a rather surprising statement from the chief strategy officer at Mediacom, who is, after all, a self-professed data guy.
“I’ve always felt that data had to be a conduit for something more relevant and connect with the consumer,” says Prabhu. Brand relevance, he says, has been dropping over the years, and “a large percentage of that is [due to] advertisers using data as not just a means but the end.”
But there is a force out there that might help change all that: COVID-19.
Prabhu believes that marketers’ response to the pandemic and how they rethink their marketing to consumers as they return to everyday life may actually represent an opportunity for the industry. “This refresh will give the industry a bit of a reset in how to connect with consumers and brands,” says Prabhu. “It will be imperative for us to find deeper ways for us to connect.”
It’s a paradox, and that’s fitting, because that’s what Prabhu has come to Ad Age’s Ad Lib podcast to discuss.
Mediacom has recently completed a major study of how the pandemic is affecting consumers, which it finds has caused them to exhibit contrasting behaviors at the same time. It identifies four such paradoxes: the Personal Paradox, or a fear of going out vs. a you-only-live-once mindset; the Social Paradox, the rise of safe personal space vs. new ways to connect; the Economic Paradox, or conspicuous consumption vs. revenge spending; and the Technology Paradox of nostalgia vs. digital.
For example, he says 80 percent of Americans are still hesitant to go out, yet others can’t wait to get out and see people and socialize in person.