FOMO and YOLO. Love ’em or hate ’em, these acronyms are in the lexicon for good things, especially with Millennials. If you had to pick one to categorize your world view, which would it be? Let’s explore the truth and consequences of each on its own and within the marketing context.
FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out
This is a very common, very natural sentiment and is the headspace occupied by most people and by extension, most organizations. Nobody wants to miss out on a good time. It hurts the ego to be on the wrong side of a group decision.
And it’s risky to lead if you’re afraid that no one will follow. So most people (and companies) prefer to play it safe, take a wait-and-see approach, see how thing shake out, then make a last-minute decision to not miss out on a good thing that is proven to be good. Sounds like prudent risk management, rational to all of us. Well, not all of us--not to the YOLO set.
YOLO: You Only Live Once
While some people live their lives this way, few senior executives really run their businesses this way. But the spirit of YOLO is what’s important here--a desire to experiment, to innovate, to break out of the mundane and status quo. It's taking proactive steps to lead, to seek out new ideas and partners with the mentality that believes, “If you’re not ahead, you’re behind.”
Or in Shawshank Redemption terms, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” No risk, no reward, and failure is merely a learning experience on the path to great success.
What Does This Mean In The Context Of Marketing?
The YOLO company knows that Millennials represent the most important demographic for sustained revenue growth for the next 20 years, and the company is tailoring marketing efforts accordingly.
The massive rise in content consumption and time spent on phones, tablets, gaming consoles, and connected devices is being driven by this group. These are Web-native, digital first, social media people who inherently like to share, communicate, broadcast, and engage with their friends and their environment.
As fewer Millennials watch traditional TV, YOLO companies are shedding their reliance on traditional Nielsen GRP (gross rating points), creating new models and benchmarks around measurement, boldly reaching and relating to Millennials in environments where Nielsen research and technology range from less important to non-existent.
They are embracing the behavioral patterns of their audience and building engagement, interactivity, and social sharing into their marketing plans. They are speaking and acting with authenticity, even adding value and earning respect and loyalty by offering brand experiences that Millennials want to engage with, rather than skip or ignore.
On the flip side, the FOMO company sees the same trends and analysis, but takes a long time to act. The company sees the world changing, but is not willing, ready, or able to change itself. This company is often a skeptic at first, wanting to "wait until the jury is out" before changing course or making moves. In principle, in a vacuum, absolutely nothing is wrong with a wait-and-see approach. Until, that is, the inevitable moment of panic washes over, when sales and market share take a hit and the search for "why" begins.
In the context of marketing, this is the point where the FOMO company will often act hastily and reactively, chasing market examples (e.g., the YOLO campaigns) for what it hopes is the panacea for its ills. It will try to join the party, copying what it sees, hoping it hasn’t missed out on the brand-consumer relationship that its competitor YOLO companies have already created.
But because it was not in its DNA to take risks and relate to Millennials to begin with, inevitably these efforts will feel disingenuous and may even backfire, especially on social media, where Millennials (and Internet users in general) can be absolutely relentless in their criticisms.
How Does This Play Out For Marketers Using Digital Video?
Digital video, from a content perspective, is a lot like TV. But from an advertising perspective, it’s a whole different ballgame. In the context of digital video advertising, YOLO companies focus on the "digital," and FOMO companies focus on the ‘video’ (or they ignore the category altogether). The differences here are dramatic.
Digital advertising is action-based. It is rooted in data, optimization, and accountability. It allows for, encourages, and at its best achieves opt-in user engagement. Click here, buy now, do something, and reap the rewards. Whether via rollover with a mouse, a tap with a finger, or pushing the OK button on a Roku remote, YOLO companies seek out this kind of action in their digital video campaigns.
Why? For all the reasons that we use the Internet in the first place--for ecommerce, communication, sharing, playing games, exploring content, doing research. All of this is possible with digital video if you embrace interactivity and engagement, if you merge rich media with video, if you invite viewers to be a part of the experience, as YOLO companies do.
FOMO companies that invest in digital video think more about the video itself, the proverbial million-dollar asset, the almighty 15- or 30-second TV commercial. They push this asset into the digital arena, measuring GRP and completions, assuming that consumers’ attention span and viewing habits are the same as they are with TV, expecting their ads to have equal impact and efficacy, particularly with the Millennial set.
When it comes to engagement and interactivity--the core tenants of the Internet--they don’t consider these KPIs in digital video because they are not possible as measurable KPIs on TV. Then if they find that their digital video campaigns are not affecting their brand metrics the way they expected, they blame the medium and they minimize their investment in digital, which ultimately exacerbates the situation.
Where YOLO companies are thriving with digital video because they fully embrace the medium, leveraging engagement and interactions into data points and consumer insights that drive media and creative optimization, FOMO companies are retreating from the space at worst or are underperforming at best. FOMO companies are only digging their hole deeper, realizing way down the road what they might be missing out on. This is when FOMO just becomes missing out, which very few companies can recover from.
In The Marketing World, YOLO > FOMO
It has become clear that the new world of marketing is largely defined by Millennials, whether they realize it or not. In an ever-advancing, constantly social and connected environment, how do you retain a Millennial’s attention? They’re not looking for the same old, same old. Not just anything is going to catch their attention, let alone retain it. Instead of being afraid of it, companies should embrace this group’s YOLO attitude so that they can rock the next generation of content consumption.