OPINION: Could being served irrelevant content actually, in a weird way, be a good thing for the future of humankind?
I knew that line would grab your attention, so just hear me out for a second.
My wife returned home a few nights ago after attending a talk and told me the gentleman who gave the talk had mentioned how we were all striving, brands and people alike, towards a perfect newsfeed. Nothing irrelevant, nothing intrusive, just what we want, when we want it.
We want to listen to things that have been perfectly curated for our interests and thoughts. This isn’t just content that we are talking about here, but advertising too. I’m interested in surfing and as such, I do receive quite a lot of surfing based content (and advertising of course) in my feed and that’s just about everything I should be getting, because that is what interests me.
But what if somebody had done something amazing in another sporting code? What if something had happened in another part of the world that might not have fitted my algorithmic perfect self but was still good for me to know about in general?
A siloed society
From an advertising point of view, could I be missing a new product on the market that could significantly change the course of history? Tesla is a great example of this, it is here that I question whether a siloed human society could be more problematic in the future than good.
Now, I’m not for a minute promoting irrelevant advertising; it’s more the fact that irrelevant messaging and content might expose us as humans to more things, more options, more technology and trends that we might have been missing from the inside of our warm bubble of digital perfectness.
Could this combination of perfect newsfeed content and perfect advertising actually stunt our development as humanoids (I’ve used that term on purpose)? Having a grasp of obscure world affairs, crazy new products and developments even if they seem somewhat irrelevant might actually be good for us in general. This includes brands that helped shape culture over the last few decades: Think Coca-Cola and Michelin.
Perhaps this seemingly irrelevant information could help us to avoid certain situations, understand that your digital utopia is not all that is out there in the big wide world, give us empathy and/or develop valuable insight towards situations and people that we have chosen, through a click over time, not to know more about.
Relevance and context
That said, if I had a choice as a consumer to block irrelevance from brands I always would.
Brands should always strive for relevance and context. It’s actually what I spend most of my day focusing on. We should always be striving to communicate the perfect message to the right consumer in the right place at the right time. This helps brands build a rapport and breaks through an endless bombardment of generally pointless messaging in our time-strapped lives.
I just wonder what effect this narrowed channel approach might have on society in general in the coming years. We have already stopped talking to each other and have managed to minimise our public area interactions by burying our heads in our mobile phones.
I am sure however that we won’t need to worry too much about it as us ‘Hubots’ (see what I did there?) will only feel the impact in years to come. The true effect of this new consumption pattern will only be truly recognisable in the distant future so keep on scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and of course don’t look up – you might have to talk to a stranger!
Credit for my ramble must go to Christopher Reid, the gentleman who gave the talk and sparked my thinking.
- Please note this is just a thought and conversation is welcome.
Graham Deneys is the group strategy director at Carat SSA