Is the classic marketing acronym, AIDA, dead?

AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

One of the most common, tried and true acronyms in marketing is AIDA Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. And when we stumbled on a LinkedIn article from fellow member, Ralf Haberich, we had to consider his premise: Are you still working with the AIDA Model in Marketing? It is from 1898. Rethink now.

The article in question was penned in 2015, so you would think the situation Ralf describes would have evolved even further in substantiating his premise. Most of that article’s readership comments seemed positive and even supporting of Ralf’s updated version, RES, standing for Relevance, Engagement and Success, but we chose to differ a bit.

When you take a more hard-edged approach, break down words, definitions and how technology plays a big part in today’s marketing and advertising, we came to a slightly different opinion of how well AIDA has stood the test of time.

First, we should always reflect on past approaches from time to time if for no other reason than to consider innovation. Innovation and differentiation in business are crucial. So we applaud Ralf’s effort.

In general, we also like the idea of coming up with something new, but RES is a bit too vague – like branding for the sake of branding instead of branding as a natural byproduct of more effective marketing.

We agree there’s a need to evolve the AIDA concept, but not to the point where it challenges AIDA with a less powerful, effective or appropriate approach. So we begin…

Relevance should already be a part of getting Attention. Otherwise you are wasting time, money, effort and resources in connecting with your target audience. So we don’t see Relevance taking over Attention. Relevance is a subset of getting the Attention of your target market and that’s never changed.

Ralf says, “If someone gets in contact with you or your brand, he already has to have a need or consideration towards your brand and/or business. A need has to be there.”

Whoa Nellie. That’s missing the point of AIDA to begin with.

Getting Attention is the essential first step in the AIDA equation because you don’t yet have anyone getting in contact with you yet.

With AIDA you’re trying to get their attention so you can generate their interest with relevant engagement.

You have to get Attention and to some degree Engage before you can share how Relevant you are.

We think Engagement is very powerful, but shouldn’t replace Interest. It might even come right after getting Attention, but could also be seen as a subset of generating Interest.

Generating Interest requires Engagement, but Engagement doesn’t necessarily produce Interest.

Desire from the old AIDA shouldn’t be erased. That’s just wrong.

Engagement by itself doesn’t necessarily produce desire or a conscious decision. Engagement can also take place without producing the end result you want. Desire is a crucial element in the process that should never be replaced – it’s a specific target or goal of the marketing or advertising effort.

If you’re not trying to create Desire toward a decision in your favor, what are you trying to do with any of this?

Success is arguably vague and general compared to Action. I think it’s always been understood that Action means a “successful” action toward the marketing or advertising goals. There might be as many different types of Success as there are different types of Actions.

But to complete the debate, we say a Success can also mean an Action that doesn’t necessarily meet your primary objective. That’s because even getting a “no” is a valuable marketing or advertising result to take note of – after you’ve already progressed through the previous steps.

So it follows that Success, if intended to just be a positive and desirable result, falls short in replacing Action if you are paying attention to why prospects don’t buy from you after you have made it all the way through everything that hopefully leads to Success and to your offer.

So while we like delineating Relevance as a subset of Action and/or Interest (and shouldn’t EVERYTHING be as relevant as possible consider segmentation capabilities?), Engagement is already running throughout AIDA, and Success is just too vague and incomplete.

Our vote is to keep AIDA and include emphasis on Engagement and Relevance as even more necessary nowadays – even though they were always there to begin with.