Bullshit Radar
August 2014 July 2021 in Mindset + Strategy

Consumers hear and see countless advertising messages on the internet, in newspapers or magazines and on television every day. Many communication scientists even arrive at an average number of advertising messages of 2,500 to 10,000 per day - depending on which study is consulted. However, these values should be taken with a grain of salt because not every recipient perceives advertising in the same way. Especially in the age of content marketing, advertising messages are cleverly hidden in exciting stories and adventures. They are presented across so many platforms that the thin line between fiction and advertising is becoming increasingly blurred. 

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Whether something is advertising or not is perceived very subjectively and is therefore to be decided contextually, individually.

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Anyone who moves through websites, blogs and social networks on the internet every day, but also anyone who simply goes out the front door to go shopping, has a system for distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant in a fraction of a second, based on an individual "bullshit radar". What is meant by this is the unmistakable sense of hollow phrases, advertising slogans and empty promises that want to sneak into our consciousness in neat packaging. For the vast majority of people, the warning signals immediately light up, and the message is denied entry once and for all.

This was not always the case - we have ubiquitous internet access on smartphones, tablets and the like, to thank for, the fact that information is available at all times and almost everywhere. Classic internet use with computer and notebook has become the norm through all strata of the population.

The number of smartphone users is also rising rapidly. In 2020, 89% of Germans own a smartphone, 94% of whom use it daily. Worldwide, 3.5 billion people own a smartphone. If anything, the trend is set to increase, with entertaining and useless apps like TikTok making us spend days and nights with our smartphones. But 2020 in particular has also shown us how the smartphone changed everyday life. "Google Pay" and "Apple Pay" make contactless payment easier, it's hard to imagine life without Lieferando and the Corona app.

Increasing smartphone density in Germany means that content can be accessed at any time, anywhere. This generates more traffic, but also requires more care in the creation.

Information - anytime and anywhere

Because information is available at any time and almost everywhere, recipients are no longer dependent on accepting the snippets of information that are thrown at them. They become active themselves, ask questions and inform themselves. They are critical - an important tool for these recipients is the bullshit radar as an early warning system that warns of content that is not what it claims to be; or recognizes when brands and companies are not communicating, truthfully. Superficial, erroneous information, insubstantial "advertising speak" or even machine text that is made more for Google than for people cannot be successful brand communication in 2020.

If Generation Z (born between 2000 and 2010) already has a very well and quickly functioning bullshit radar, we will see the true masters of 21st century communication structures and technologies in Generation Alpha (2010-2025).

If brands can no longer reach their customers as before, the traditional means and channels of communication have had their day. So, what do you do if you want to get in touch with your customers? The easiest way to reach the modern customer is through open and honest communication. This means: genuine benefits and good conversation and, at the right time and only in the right context, openly asking for business. People need tips from experts, they want information and background information on products, and they are interested in exciting, funny and authentic stories. They just don't want to be annoyed any more - very likely they never wanted to be.

The way to this communication at eye level is through context strategy and content communication. The important questions are: What is relevant content for our (potential) customers? In what form do they want this content? What is the context of our communication? The context defines the framework for content marketing. This is how context communication is created.

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