Regular Joes and Janes are changing the way we advertise.

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It’s late Sunday night at the time of this writing and I just came across a press release announcing The Future of Influence Summit by futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson.  If I set my alarm clock for sunrise, I can probably get to the airport in time to grab a flight up to San Francisco for the event, which sounds like an interesting one. According to the press release a new trend of “influencers” comprised of self-made influentials like bloggers, social media gurus and individuals are taking the power away from more traditional influencers like advertising agencies, newspapers and corporations. The shift away from “group influencers” to “individual influencers” is really giving advertising and marketing agencies heartburn as they scramble to figure out how to understand this new trend. In the pre-Internets era, people got their information about brands from traditional advertising like print, outdoor billboards and television commercials. The more a television commercial or print ad ran in the days of old, the more likely a person was to buy the product or service from that brand. Fast-forward to the Internets of the present. The media landscape has been fragmented into a million digital outlets, which is causing traditional advertising to lose its heavy-weight status. Media planners at advertising agencies now have to look at social media, PPC, banner, online video, rich media, email marketing, viral marketing, SEO, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and on and on and on. Couple that with the fact that now anyone with an authentic voice can build up a community of “fans” and influence if you buy a product or service and you’ve got some huge learnins to do if you’re a media planner in a traditional ad agency. Many times these “influencers” get huge audiences  because they carry with them the reputation of being an authentic, reliable voice. Take a recent blog entry where I wrote about Dave Carrol an irate United Airlines passenger who allegedly had his precious guitar broken by the airline. Instead of relying on customer service or filing a complaint with United,  Mr. Carrol took matters into his own hands by expressing himself in his own way; he wrote a song about the experience and released it on YouTube. The result was over 5 million viewers of his music video. Advertising agencies are still salivating trying to dissect and replicate the success. The point is that one individual can have a huge impact on a brand if the voice is deemed authentic. Long gone are the days that we take a corporations word for it when they tell us how great their products or services are. The individual is now the centerpiece of the show and advertisers better take notice. For more information on the program for Monday, check out The Future of Influence Summit Agenda

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