There's no shortage of content being created around the latest, polarizing question: "What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel?" and even some asking does it matter?

From articles exploring the science behind why people hear different things to brands co-opting the cultural conversation to podcasters claiming audio is the new be-all-end-all of marketing, there's one key takeaway for brands: the best marketing is about the creating one-to-one experiences for consumers.

In Predatory Thinking, author Dave Trott writes: 

Even if you're using mass media and your communication is in the millions, you're only talking to one person at a time. To be heard, you have to be in someone's immediate consciousness. That means in an intimate space. That means one-to-one. Media's changed and it'll keep changing. In fact, the only thing that hasn't changed is people. They're still the same. All anyone's aware of is their immediate consciousness. That's where media has to reach them. Whatever the media is.

The great Yanny or Laurel debate audio clip reached the masses (thanks to a Reddit post that was further amplified by an influencer), and everyone who was aware of it interpreted it differently. It was a one-to-one content experience, even in a group setting.

Another example of this presents in one of the oldest and most well-known campaigns from the 19th century when the U.S. government was recruiting soldiers for both World War I and World War II. J.M. Flagg's 1917 "I Want You" poster. It was based on the original British Lord Kitchener poster "Who's Absent? Is It You?" of three years earlier, but both posters personified their respective governments in a way that spoke directly to that audience. It was one-to-one. 

In today's media and marketing landscape where consumers control when, where, and how they interact with brands, the best content is always about the consumer.

It speaks directly to them -- even if isn't personalized in the way technology can personalize content today. The best brands understand their overall marketing strategy must always be "consumer-first." 

Here are three things to ask yourself about your marketing creative and content to ensure that it is "consumer-first"

1. How does my content add value to my target audience?

Consumers now control when, where, and how they interact with brands. They don't want content that is all about your brand's features and benefits. It must inform, entertain, or solve a problem for them before you start to "pitch" them hard. Marketing is like a first date, if all you do is talk about yourself there won't be a second one. 

2. How does my content evoke an emotion?

The most effective content makes consumers feel something about your brand or the content itself. Does it make them laugh, cry, think about something, remind them of a time in their life, etc? If it can spark a feeling, the consumer will engage with it further and ultimately spend more time with it. They'll share it, talk about it, spread the message for you. That's more time with your brand, and a consumers time is the most valuable asset today.

3. The most important question to ask is: would I engage with this content if it wasn't mine?

If it didn't represent my brand. Take off your business owner and marketer hat and put on your consumer hat. Imagine your scrolling thru your social feed, would you stop and engage with it or is it just another piece of content that takes up space? It's important to take off our horse blinders and step out of our day to day to gain perspective.

Some of you might be saying, that's all great, but Yanny or Laurel wasn't advertising. Or was it? When I started to dig deeper into the root of the whole story and read that Broadway performer Jay Aubrey Jones told  NPR he was saying the word "Laurel" when he recorded the word for in 2007.

Maybe the latest viral trend was actually branded content from

Or maybe it wasn't. All I know is that I heard "Yanny."