Tech Hampers Memory Which Impacts Marketing, Says Yahoo Canada Head

The way we use our devices is changing the way we remember. What does it mean for the future and the modern marketer? That was the question posed this morning on the second day of ClickZ Live Toronto by Nick Drew, head of research at Yahoo Canada, during the opening keynote, “The Zero Moment of Memory: How Technology Is Helping and Hampering Memory.”

Marketing is about memory – getting your audience to remember your brand and messaging when they’re just about to make their purchase, Drew said. He emphasized that engagement is the most important element of any marketing campaign, because if consumers aren’t engaging with your messaging, they won’t remember it.

“Ultimately, memory relies on engagement,” Drew said. “If we don’t pay attention to an experience or stimulus, it is forgotten.”

The pace of technological change is increasing, and the complexity of technology we use has grown exponentially. Four out of five people say life is so fast that they find it hard to remember everything and 74 percent make notes or reminders on a smartphone to remember things, according to Yahoo data.

The smartphone is the one tool that’s really changed how we remember. It has all your contact details, a calendar, a map, a camera, and more.

“It has become the most important tool we have to make note of everything we need to remember,” Drew said. “Losing our phone is one of the great anxieties. We have addictive relationship with smartphones.”

In today’s world, people are paying less attention to marketing. We now live in a click-and-forget society. But there are a couple ways to overcome this:

  • Mobile Is Key: The smartphone is at the center of consumers’ daily lives. “We love playing with things on smartphones,” Drew said. “We really enjoy it. For marketers, a rich, engaging smartphone experience has to be part of any marketing campaign and messaging initiative.”
  • Use Photography: “Taking photos is second nature to us,” Drew said. “Incorporating photo-taking or photo elements within campaigns is a way to tap into what consumers are already doing anyway to record their lives.”

According to Drew, marketers must think beyond the click and think about context. What do you want your audience to remember? Ultimately, the best campaigns and successful brands are those that are impossible to forget.

There is also a huge opportunity to use targeting and retargeting to ensure people associate a campaign with particular content or a product, to ensure consumers are seeing and re-seeing those ads.

Interestingly, 59 percent of Canadian consumers make a note or otherwise try to ensure they remember interesting ads they see online:

  • 21 percent email themselves a link to it.
  • 18 percent make a note with pen and paper.
  • 7 percent take a photo of the ad with their smartphone.

Yahoo Canada’s study, “The Zero Moment of Memory,” refers to that moment or nanosecond when you decide what to do with a piece of information, whether it’s someone giving you a phone number, someone asking you to meet for a cup of coffee next week, or your significant other asking you to pick up the kids. Will you commit it to memory or delegate it to a device?

There is a big difference between how we remember things ourselves compared to capturing them elsewhere, whether it’s a picture taken with a smartphone or recording every moment of your day with Google Glass, Drew said. There’s less emotional engagement when something is captured on a device compared to remembering something yourself viscerally by being in the moment and encoding it into your memory.

While there are some pros of this memory shift to technology, such as the ability to save our own mental energy by delegating, there is also a risk of complete dependence.

“Technology is changing how we choose to remember,” Drew said. “Will that process continue and follow to logical conclusion that we choose not to remember anything ourselves?”

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