Love Island is a series currently airing in the UK where a group of beautiful twenty-somethings are put on an island and drama unfolds. It’s very popular among teenagers and my daughter invited me to watch it with her this morning.

I found myself thinking about the use of time and “what is it for?”. It’s partly for ITV to keep viewers watching so they can sell advertising. It can also be a catalyst for discussion; my daughter and I talked about how the participants were handling the issues in their relationships.

How do the TV station keep us watching? By building tension. With conflict and uncertainty. Who’s going to be single at the end of the week and leave the villa? Will the newly contrived partnership develop quickly enough or will the girl return to her previous partner? Who’s being genuine and who’s playing a game? How is it going to change when two new girls enter the villa tomorrow?

Our desire to resolve tension leads to action. And we see companies using our strong loss aversion bias to create this tension.

Online ebook sellers have 50% off for today only. Headlines want to share “secrets”. You won’t believe believe how this 80’s celebrity looks now. Facebook tells us “A lot has happened since you last logged in”.

If you recognise what’s happening you can choose whether to engage.

WhatsApp originally didn’t sell ads. Now its Chief Executive has announced he will be leaving. And Click-to-WhatsApp ads are coming.

What is advertising for?

In Lost Connections, Johann Hari talks about junk values.

When they talk among themselves, advertising people have been admitting since the 1920s that their job is to make people feel inadequate – and then offer their product as the solution to the sense of inadequacy they have created. Ads are the ultimate frenemy – they’re always saying: Oh babe, I want you to look/smell/feel great; it makes me so sad that at the moment you’re ugly/stinking/miserable; here’s the thing that will make you into the person you and I really want you to be. Oh, did I mention you have to pay a few bucks? I just want you to be the person you deserve to be. Isn’t what worth a few dollars? You’re worth it.

Advertising and marketing used to be synonymous. Now there are different approaches to marketing.

In The Marketing Seminar Seth proposes a style of marketing based on empathy, where you identify the group of people you seek to serve and then meet them where they are.

For entrepreneurs and asipring entrepreneurs I see this working together with building your Minimum Viable Product. Early on, do things that don’t scale. Find out what your customers really care about.

One aspect of marketing is how can we encourage people to use our product or service initially? Tension is involved, and as long as we are doing it with good intention, we can use that tension to create action. What problem are you creating for those people who aren’t using your product?

What are they missing out on?