Everything on the internet is a billboard

Or at least that’s what we’ve been taught

3 min readFeb 7, 2022
Photo by Junseong Lee on Unsplash

Your grandpa used to buy ad space along the highways, and you can do the same on Facebook.

Different media. Same outcome: eyeballs.

Our latest obsession is the metaverse, NFTs, and the blockchain.

It was social selling, influencer marketing, inbound, or personalisation not too long ago.

And now everything that came before is finding its place in a world with the metaverse.

The way we interact with the digital world is constantly moving away from something we’re subjected to and towards something we can influence.

Since the dawn of advertising (even with the internet), we’ve had little control over what ads we see.

Not until you started using ad-blockers and stopped giving marketing consent.

Technology is driven by our desire to shape the world and not just be shaped by it.

And adapting to this human nature is how you will succeed with omnichannel marketing.

But first, we need to stop picking media as our granddads did.

Metrics like Reach and Impression do matter.

But they only matter to you — the marketer.

People use media channels for very different purposes.

Some might scroll TikTok for information, others for entertainment or self-reassurance.

When picking a new channel, the right question isn’t what do people do on TikTok?

It’s: What does TikTok do for people?

And this is where Uses and Gratification Theory comes on.

UGT is an approach to understanding why and how people actively seek specific media to satisfy specific needs.

Let’s start with the specific needs.

There are four primary ones:

  1. Diversion (e.g. Escapism, enjoyment, or to overcome boredom.)
  2. Personal Relationships (e.g. Building or substituting social interactions.)
  3. Personal Identity (e.g. Gaining self-awareness or reinforcing personal values.)
  4. Surveillance (e.g. Discovering what’s new and trending in the world.)

And the same channels may be used by different people for different reasons.

As this research excerpt from Wikipedia explains:

“Compared to social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Snapchat is used more to fulfil private media needs.

For example, […] Snapchat interactions were similar to interactions found in close interpersonal relationships. The application has been used to attain emotional support from others, look for advice on important decisions, and seek help to solve problems, satisfying the need to socialize, vent negative feelings, and connect with others.”

And the differences in use and the sense of gratification are influenced by social factors.

For example, a study on potential gender differences in the use of SMS found that:

“Women scored the UG of accessibility/mobility, relaxation and escape, and coordination higher than the men did. These results may imply social and societal expectations for females around independence but connected to family and friends and/or a tendency for women to rely more on detailed conversation in text messaging than men.”

Cardboard profiles aren’t your real customers.

Instead of mapping your audience on Facebook or LinkedIn, get out there and talk to your customers.

Start by understanding what types of content or media they use for each functional need. And only then map the content to channels where they’re more likely to find and engage with it.

Copyright: I drew it in Keynote
  • Do they seek escape at work due to unengaging tasks or stress?
  • Do they prefer a certain type of content to unwind?
  • Do they prefer some channels over others for staying in touch with their close friends and family?
  • Do they find some types of content inappropriate on their favourite apps?
  • Do they care about curating a polished online persona? Or do they place more value on being themselves?

Following UGT will make every single interaction with your customer meaningful to them.