Negotiating the digital divide: why immigrant brands must learn to go native

Natives
Natives going to meet the Spanish navy in 1792 (source)

the Pew Research Centre's biennial report into the
changing nature of news audiences has confirmed what we've known for a while;
that a generation of digital natives are growing up demanding immediacy and
plurality of content.  the report described 13% of the US public as 'net newsers'; under
35, affluent, and sceptical of many of the mainstream media's offerings.

it comes hot on the heels of last week's report by Ofcom which confirmed what
TGI and CCS have been telling us for a while…  that as our world shifts
from one ruled by digital immigrants to one dominated by digital natives, an
entire generation are defaulting to multi-tasking their media consumption.

this isn't just behavioural – our brains are physically adapting to enable us
to compulsively multitask.  digital technology changes the way we absorb
information.  as such – as Lord Saatchi was reported as pointing out in 2006 – the digital native’s brain is
physically different; “It has rewired itself. It responds faster. It sifts out.
It recalls less.”

the fact that recall rates for traditional television advertisements have
plummeted led Lord Saatchi to the conclusion that companies must now be able to
sum up their brands in a single word if they are to grab the attention of
restless digital natives, but this is to miss the point…

if digital natives demand multiplicity, brands – far from retreating to one-word over-simplification – must give it to them.  both
the above reports confirm that TV remains predominant in the media consumption
habits of digital natives.  in the UK we're watching more TV than ever;
communicating to digital natives doesn't mean abandoning TV as a means with
which to communicate; rather it means using it in conjunction with other media
channels – specifically the internet.

brand communications need plurality
– the notion of what constitutes 'critical mass' within a media channel has to
be rethought and replaced with consideration as to what constitutes critical
mass across channels.

some may not like this compulsive plurality of consumption – in his G2 column
last week, Alexander Chancellor bemoaned a "compulsion to keep in
touch" liking it to a "kind of disease".  "Addiction
to communication" he comments "seems to me as dangerous as addiction
to cigarettes or alcohol".

as hard as it may be for digital immigrants to comprehend, consistent and
constant consumption of content is as natural to digital natives as
breathing.  both immigrants and brands has better get used to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s