Customers have changed. Technology is now integrated more in their lives than ever before. With this shift marketers face a new challenge: customers that expect more out of marketing. The average American consumer is far less responsive to a clever commercial or magazine ad than in the past. This can be partially attributed to DVRs and e-readers, however there is another element that many marketers are still missing because they are stuck in the past.

Surprisingly, over the past century, the approach used in advertising to consumers has changed very little and the mediums used to reach consumers have had few, distinct moments of evolution. Starting with the first print ads in newspapers, advertising has since progressed to the radio, the television, and finally the internet. While there were great technological changes at play, those advancements have had little influence over common/popular marketing approaches overall. Marketing in each of these scenarios has been and for some companies continues to move in primarily one direction: from business to customer, producer to consumer, while interaction between these groups does not exist until purchase.

That unidirectional approach is finally changing and businesses are reaching out through social media to engage customers virtually. As a result, the new approach is much more interactive. Many companies are using creative and useful content to start a conversation and give consumers a chance to give feedback. At the same time, others are being much more innovative, such as Nissan who recently released the Juke nismo in Europe. They launched this car within a mobile game a month before it was actually on the streets. This creative approach paid off in a big way when a month later the campaign had reached over 2 million users in their target demographic.

Marketing Communications General Manager for Nissan in Europe Gareth Dunsmore notes in his recent posting on Fourth Source, that he anticipates this kind of innovative marketing will increase and in doing so “break down the traditional barrier between brands and consumers, and along with that between the real and virtual worlds.” As many savvy marketers are doing, Gareth notes consumers are always on the lookout for the newest innovation “so any brand that can engage with them in a meaningful way is going to be at an advantage and ensure consumers feel less like they are just a target for sales.”

Technology marketing: blurring the line from virtual to reality