How Advertising Can Benefit From the ‘Sharing Economy’

Back in the 1900s – the 1990s to be exact – my friends and I were all new to the working world and didn’t have a lot of money, so we often “shared” the expense of high-end luxuries. Whether it was the group “Gucci” bag, the 12-person summer house, or even the cost of the “good food” groceries (that were so much more expensive than a box of mac and cheese or ramen noodles), we were practicing the sharing economy and didn’t even know it.

Today, in the midst of the new century, the sharing economy is booming. From Airbnb to Uber, DogVacay, and even the new commuter service in Midtown called Via, people everywhere are taking advantage of sharing to improve quality of life and keep costs down.

The sharing economy is addicting. A 2014 report by crowd companies in the Silicon Valley suggests that there are more than 80 million “sharers” in the U.S. alone and that number is growing.

This got me thinking. What if the advertising community leveraged a sharing economy mindset to start buying ads, and building brands? Programmatic media is a start in the right direction. After all, it leverages media that companies have accessible to them and are not using, and makes it available, at a price, to other companies. It’s a mini version of the media world’s collaborative economy. But, this concept could get even bigger for brands who want to work together to share the mindshare of the target consumer.

Think about it: For every brand you love, there is at least one other brand you love just as much. They might not be related brands, or even seemingly connected to the outsider, but to you, the consumer, they are two brands that make you happy. Imagine what could happen if these two brands showed up in synergy on ads you see, or offers you receive? This could be the beginning of new era in advertising, one that cements loyalty through complementary partnerships and not competing for eyeballs and ad space or inside masked content marketing initiatives.

These brands could form alliances that drive profits through the roof while delighting customer’s emotions. Here are some possible examples:

  • Diet Coke and Dunkin’ Donuts (for coffee, not treats)
  • Starbucks and Lululemon
  • Yankee Candle and Lands’ Ends
  • Kraft Mac and Cheese and Levi’s
  • Amtrak and NOOK by Barnes and Noble

As smart marketers and advertisers we always need to be on the lookout for new ways to engage the consumer and drive brand loyalty. Could this be the next one?

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