Unless you've been hiding under a rock these past few months and years, and regardless of where you are in the so called 'developed world' you can't escape a new breaking story everyday relaying tales of the woeful state of the traditional retail sector, lots of stories from the UK, Europe and the US.

So, when you hear the word 'strategy' what comes to mind, does it sound like something that can take time to deliver a return?

When you think about the word 'tactics' do you think about a short term gain?

The question is rhetorical because reality is they are both symbiotic but often business gets drawn into a tactic driven approach whilst losing sight of the 'Why' people should choose to spend their cash with you over a competitor.

I saw a lot of businesses before and probably post covid inject unhealthy budget numbers into the ad tech system because it was supposed to deliver a short term spike to keep the sausage machine going.

As a result the skills that a great CMO should be bringing to a business has gotten lost as marketing has been reduced to being the company bullhorn.

The result is that whilst everyone is focussed on outbound communication very few are 'listening'.

As such this is one of the key reasons that companies lose track of the why and unwittingly 'gift' business to the competition.

I'm a brand and business transformation expert. That's not a boast, it's not an ego trip it's a well earned fact.

With the exception of Covid time after time I see that rapid decline in business transformation is a result of external forces being ignored, or delayed to fit with the internal narrative and balance sheet.

Many years ago I was 'invited' by a few headhunters following my highly successful tenure with N Brown Group plc to see if I would be interested in heading up the M&S online business, Boots and other household names were in that mix also.

I already knew it would be akin to pushing water uphill, why, because every retail HR department (the CEO was far too important to talk about the internet) that head hunters put me in front of told me that the biggest priority was to protect the 'real estate' (store network).

Their biggest concern with eCommerce was 'cannibalization' - M&S is a 100+ year old stalwart of British retailing and it echoed what all of them were thinking and saying - so my answer was a resounding 'thanks, but no thanks'.

As we look to kick start business from this global crisis it might be time to realise that the advertising model that was originally thought up for the internet just doesn’t work anymore. The public is increasingly telling the ad industry that it doesn’t want to see their ads.

So, is the answer to continue to force them to look at ads, as some services now do, or is it to change?

As the global increase in audience behaviour for 'ad skipping' and 'ad blocking' combined with continued fraud associated with programmatic continues to rise unabated, it is vital that content owners, creators, broadcasters, brands & advertisers establish non-intrusive audience friendly viable alternatives for generating insights, attribution and revenues from what is still a growing appetite across all channels to consume content.

In summary, you and me (the audience) don't want those intrusive ads being 'pushed' at us anymore....but, we still want content!

As the amount of online content (especially video) increases exponentially, general search is often struggling to deliver meaningful results, unless you’re very explicit and goal oriented. And you will never know what you missed out on.

Search is brilliant for quick, specific answers, terrible for discovering and exploring new ideas. Generally search results are biased towards popular links from the top 1% of all content and mainstream websites, trapping us all in a filter bubble of Wikipedia articles and increasing personalisation.

Similar to a classroom environment, search is best focussed on specific paths towards preordained outcomes.

Discovery reveals worlds you didn’t know existed, powers-up your critical thinking and enriches your understanding in ways the classroom isn’t designed for. Just as there is a fundamental difference between the role of the classroom and the library, there is a fundamental dichotomy between search and discovery. Search promises to make vast swathes of information available, whereas discovery aims to make more relevant knowledge immediately accessible.

In summary;

Do you have a content led strategy that can be shared across social media platforms with over 3.8bn people, or......

Are you going back to wasting sparse budgets on intrusive tactical ads?