THE BLOG
12/20/2013 12:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Digital Desert Island -- Vacation Paradise?

There I was, 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Flying to Italy to speak at the IAB Digital conference in Milan. It was the day after Thanksgiving, the plane was full, I was in business class and there was no connection to the Internet. So, after hanging my coat and enjoying some warm nuts, I had eight hours of digital peace and quiet.

What did I do? I read a book. I wrote some things. I watched a movie.

What didn't I do? I didn't check Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn LNKD +0.97%, or Quora. I didn't Instagram. I didn't post a Vine. I didn't Snapchat or text.

Honestly -- it was bliss.

How did that happen? It seems like it was just yesterday that the wide open expanse of the web was an adventure. Remember when we surfed? We didn't drown in the web, we rode the crests of the waves.

Well, that's all about to change -- again.

Consumers are about to find themselves with the tools to create their own Digital Desert Island. A place where they can find focus, peace, and control over the information, feeds, and sources that they are exposed to.

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Here are the five rules of Your Digital Desert Island:

  1. No one gets on without your permission.
  2. Your Island, your rules. Anyone can be banned at any time.
  3. Your Island, your temperament. The wild west of poor etiquette, spam, unfiltered comments, and anonymous posters is in your control.
  4. Brands, pitches, offers -- only as you wish.
  5. A rhythm controlled by you.

Right now, the web is moving at a million miles an hour. The feeds are coming round the clock, the volume of micro-bits of information has all of us rushing to keep up. And -- since the volume is growing, we're increasingly failing. We're missing important messages from friends, family, and colleagues, and we're fighting distraction from Grumpy Cats and Charming Dogs at every turn.

The sheer noise has brands pushing out more messages, more often, trying out out-shout the noisy world.

Seth Godin had it right -- and shockingly early -- when he coined the term "permission marketing" back in 1999. He was right then, but it is increasingly essential now.

So, for brands the question is simple. Once consumers have the tools to build their own Digital Desert Island -- will they invite you on, or keep your marketing messages safely offshore and out of shouting distance?

It's not a rhetorical question.

Here are the questions you need to answer - as brand marketers and voices in the noisy web:

  • Does your media output add value to customers - or is it just noise?
  • Can you focus valid information to customers, or do you ship out 'one size fits all' data?
  • Do your customers think of themselves and fans, or victims?
  • Given a choice to leave, would they?
  • If your customers have a Digital Desert Island, would they invite you on or kick you off?

You would be wise to think about these questions now, because the era of mass-marketing is rapidly being replaced by a need for new, valuable, focused voices. And if you're late to the party, you could be banned from the island -- for good.