How ‘Going Direct’ Changes Everything: for Brands, Retail, Marketing, and Advertising

Jeff Jordan

watch time: 20 minutes

As brick-and-mortar retail has shifted towards online (or been entirely replaced by ecommerce, in the case of Blockbuster and others), brands have been going direct to consumers (or via online storefronts/aggregators, like Amazon). Yet the holy grail of performance marketing and advertising to consumers remains elusive: Let’s face it, many consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, for example, are still just guessing in the dark about what people are actually doing with their goods. They’re relying way more on art than science to know, predict, and target their customers.

But now, with the advent of “Direct Response 2.0” — thanks to the rise of social commerce and online crowdfunding, promotional transparency and online-to-offline recommendations, and discovery + experiential shopping — brands and consumers have a direct connection. What does this mean for marketing and advertising and online-to-offline business strategy? Well, customers not only vote with their dollars, they can now influence retailer product decisions… sometimes before they even happen. And brands have unprecedented access to consumers and data (finally!) … not to mention the ability to determine demand before production and the opportunity to capture more value up the stack/ higher in the purchasing funnel.

In this talk, a16z general partner Jeff Jordan outlines the shifts, trends, and what they mean for new marketing skillsets, capabilities, and tools. Because it’s a brave new world when marketing goes from art to science, from guessing to knowing, from disintermediated to direct.

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