Brand Strategies For “The Validation Era”

Steve Rubel, EVP of Global Strategy and Insights for Edelman, spoke at Mashable Connect in Orlando last week. One of the things he said is we are now entering a new era in Internet time. Rubel calls this new stage, the Validation era.

Prior to the Validation era, the Internet experienced two other distinct eras, says Rubel. The first was the era of “Commercialization” (1994-2002), in which publishing was “costly and inaccessible to the masses.” The era of “Democratization” (2002-2010) followed and was made possible by low costs of production, enabling almost anyone to be a publisher.

According to Mashable, Rubel and his peers at Edelman see a shift in authority, in which Internet users are beginning to “find the signal in the noise.” The changes underway since 2010 are accompanied by an essential shift in trust, with academics, experts and technical experts rising to become the most trusted sources. Meanwhile, the authority of peers has notably declined 4% since 2009.

Here is the slideshow Rubel presented in Orlando:

Authority in the Age of Overload

View more presentations from Edelman

His slides address the steps brands can take to function within this newly defined Validation framework. Things like “elevating the experts” in your company, and “dazzling with data.” Rubel emphasizes the need for visual data. “People on the Internet do not read. They read 20% of a webpage before they move on; 57% never come back to that page; and we spend 15-20 seconds on a webpage before we move on. We are a global planet of fruit flies.”

I don’t quibble with his findings, but I am enough of a contrarian to say we don’t write for fruit flies at AdPulp. We write for people who like to read.

Thanks again, for reading.

[UPDATE] In a different twist on the concept of validation, Seth Godin believes it’s the era of validating your audience.

What do customers, friends, the socially networked, users, neighbors, classmates, servers, administrators, employees… maybe even brands… want?

notice me
like me
touch me
do what I say
miss me if I’m gone

Naturally, I’m intrigued by this line of reasoning, and I often wonder if I’m failing to make it about you, not me. Here, and elsewhere. So let me ask, isn’t the act of writing for an audience an acknowledgement of that audience’s existence?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.