Marketing in the era of Digital Detox- Are you prepared?

The average person scrolls through 300 ft of feeds every day. Surprisingly this is the height of ‘Statue of Liberty’ including the torch! – Ogilvy on Twitter

When it comes to physical health, people count calories and are obsessed with numbers: 15,00,00 steps, 2000 calories consumed, 8 hours of sleep

The next obsession would be around the hours of mobile screen time and the consumed MB per day ! – The trend of Digital Toxers and Digital Dieters is very near.

Even though the “digital detox” concept isn’t new, it has become popular recently in the minds of people with the idea of “time well-spent” (coined by Silicon Valley ethicist Tristan Harris)

A study by Ofcom revealed that, in UK 4 out of 10 adults felt that they were regularly ignored by a friend or relative who was too engrossed in their smartphone or tablet. In order to solve the digital addiction problems, numerous brands have come up with campaigns and technology apps that find and restore the integrity of body and mind for a set period of time.

Will the digital diets start to be quantified and reviewed as much as physical ones?

If so, for the brands those prioritize engaging their customers through contents, what happens if people start putting their phones down? On the light of these findings and trends the brands should be prepared for changing attention patterns and prompt a shift in strategy.

The Future is in control – adopting new channels

The pace at which technology is infused into our lives shall only accelerate in the coming years.


Digital Detox detail age group graph



According to Ofcom research, 55% of people aged 16 to 34 feel they use their phone too much and are looking for ways to reduce screen time.

The early adapters of the digital diet will be the millennial and the Generation Z. So, the modern marketer has to identify where this attention is going to drift during this phase and identify new channels.

Here are a few of my thoughts where attention might shift the focus to:

  • Audio Content
    Towards 2019, its very obvious to see the growing role of audio content in our daily lives. From morning news readouts to late-afternoon podcast sessions, Google claims that 72 percent of those who own a voice-activated speaker use the device as part of their daily routine.

We can soon see audio marketing as part of:

  1. Voice search optimization:  where brands have to optimize their product pages to rank as the best or the only result for voice searches
  2. Voice enabled advertising: Advertisers get ready for audio version of Google AdWords !
  3. Alexa Skills – Market skill development for Amazon platform is on research
  4. Podcast- With 15 billion hours of content expected by 2021, this is a promising platform for advertisement
  5. Connected cars – With autonomous and connected cars, voice-enabled advertising will roll out to connected vehicles
  • Digital out of home
    Intelligent Digital Outdoor media channel remains an irreplaceable media platform with forceful visual impact, compulsory viewing environments, sustainable campaign effects, brand safety and reaching “one-to-many”.
  • Gaming
    There lies a potential opportunity for brands to make quick in-roads into videogame environments to capitalize on the power of these digital worlds.

Brands can utilize the Digital Detox to their benefit

Numerous campaigns have come out which urge people to put their phone down and embrace what’s in front of them. A few good ones are listed below:

Phone stack
A great example is from KFC and their ‘Phone Stack’ campaign. The Malaysian leg of the fast food chain created an app, timed how long people could avoid using their phones, the longer people stayed off their phones, the more KFC reward points they received !
Pepper Hacker campaign
Dolmio campaign was built around the idea that technology has hijacked dinner time, with children becoming so involved and immersed in tablets and smartphones that they are completely unaware of everything going on around them.
So, it created the ‘pepper hacker’ – a device that automatically disables surrounding Wi-Fi – to help families reclaim dinner time.
Meantime Brewing Company The Make Time for It’ campaign encourage people to take time to connect with others and appreciate the bespoke crafted elements and beer in the bar, without digital distraction. 
Amstel Beer Campaign Amstel created an App which Rewards People Who Stay Away from Their Smartphones. The app keeps track of how often smartphone users use their phones; each set of eight hours of unplugged time entitles the user to a free beer.
Hold An app that rewards you for not using your phone
This app tracks smartphone usage and gives students points redeemable at cafes, cinemas and Amazon as a reward for them not touching their phone and focusing instead on study !

Way forward

Be prepared for changing attention patterns. The above listed are some channel options for marketing, but it is too early to precisely predict where attention will shift towards. But brands that don’t prepare and experiment now risk being left behind with the changing behavior of their audience.  

Brands should be cautions when considering the investment towards ‘digital wellness’. For example Nike training app with a justification of keeping people healthy make people glued to their smartphone with notifications! This is still a question as to how far the end justifies the means?


Adarsh Suresh
MarTech Consultant, Reach360 Digital

Reach360 is a full-service Digital Marketing agency that provides custom Digital Marketing services to maximise ROI. As a team, we serve clients from diverse industries to stay ahead of their competition.
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