Predictions for content marketing in 2018 So we are into the second week of January 2018, and while your New Year’s Eve hangover ought to be a distant memory the resolutions you probably now regret making should just about still be intact. Now then is as good a time as any to look forward to what 2018 is likely to bring to the content marketing world. As technology lovers will know this week sees Las Vegas host the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest showcase of gadgets, goodies and general tech on the planet. So we will look in more depth about how technology will change content in the coming year after that event. For now though here are ten predictions as to how things will evolve in the coming twelve months. 1. Diversification of content channels I think 2018 could see brands become more experimental in the platforms they use. Questions about the future of Facebook and the effectiveness of Snapchat could spark forays into Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, and a reconsideration of the merits of audio content sparked by the growth of the smart speaker market. 2. Brands as content companies This has been a process which has been ongoing for several years now with the likes of Red Bull becoming known as much for the videos they produce and their content-driven relationships, as for their core products. I think 2018 will see some brands take up the slack possibly caused by the retrenchment of brands like BuzzFeed and Vice Media –  both of whom have undergone difficult times recently – and we may even see some companies develop content portals that become profit centres. 3. Diversification of content teams I think that 2018 will see brands take another look at their content teams. Many are at the start of their journey having employed a few journalists, bloggers and social media experts. This year could see more Chief Content Officers arriving at UK brands, along with specialists in video and image creatives to help fulfill the twin key requirements of strategy and visual content. 4. Closer relationships with ecommerce This is already happening in the wider publishing world with companies like Dennis Publishing developing car sales as a key part of its content offering, and Business Insider creating Insider Picks as an innovative way of attracting affiliate revenue. I have a feeling brands won’t be immune to this trend, and we will see more brands experimenting with using content as the handmaiden of ecommerce. 5. Social issues come to the fore Last year several brands begin to incorporate social issues in to the content and the advertising they produced. Some did this in a very cliched and cack handed way, like Pepsi, but others have been more subtle in championing gender equality and sexual rights issues. I think we will see progressive brands look to differentiate themselves from their rivals by becoming more vocal about social issues in 2018. 6. Changing relationships with Facebook Facebook’s exec team is currently under a lot of pressure as they seek to address criticism ranging from political manipulation through to online bullying and abuse. In a handful of countries the company is splitting feeds so that a person’s friends posts appear on the main feed and posts from other organisations appear in another. It is difficult to know quite which direction Facebook will head in 2018, but I wonder if the uncertainty will inspire some brands to look to alternative ways of communicating those message via content. 7. Concerns about legislation In May the EU will introduce the General Data Protection Regulation better known as GDPR which will impact on the way that brands harvest and manage data about their customers. That’s not be the end of the story as also being considered are ePrivacy changes which if enacted  could change the processing of any kind of tracking (e.g. cookies) in all digital businesses drastically. It could be a game changer for the global digital ad industry and the way that brands interact with consumers. 8. Quality of content is going to be central I think 2018 could be the year in which the quality of the content that brands produce becomes their key priority rather than the quantity. The standard of the winners at the CMA awards reflects this, and in a world where so much content is competing for consumer eyeballs, this is set to continue into 2018 and beyond. It may mean less content and instead a concentration on higher ticket more immersive editorial like longer posts, extended video and podcasts. 9. ICOs will come to content marketing Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are the big new thing in startup finance and I think that content marketers will become familiar with them in 2018 for two reasons. Firstly, one of the key ways that ICOs are successful is that companies that are attempting to raise money in this way require quality content. And in the same way that great content powers crowdfunded campaigns, so they will with ICOs. Secondly, we will see some content  startups use ICOs to rise money, perhaps changing the way that media companies and agencies begin and develop. 10. Personalisation of content The jury is still out on the role of bots in content marketing, but 2018 is bound to see more companies experiment with them, and also harness Artificial Intelligence to predict reader responses and serve them with appropriate content. Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more 19 New CMA Members in 2017! 2017 was a very exciting year here at The CMA. We welcomed a new MD Catherine Maskell, launched new events such as The Digital Breakfast on Tour, Future Content Sessions, as well as running various training days. On top of all of this we welcomed 19 new members! CMA members fit into 6 different categories; Content Agencies, Media Agencies, Brands, Overseas, Affiliates and Start Ups. This means we are now able to facilitate smaller agencies who are in the content space and would like to learn from the industry leaders whilst contributing to the content conversation. “I am absolutely delighted that our membership grew by 50% last year. We welcomed some large industry names alongside some regional stars. At the CMA we pride ourselves on offering unique benefits to our members whilst promoting their work throughout our channels. 2018 looks like it has the potential to be one of our biggest year’s yet and I am excited to continue working with both our loyal long-standing members as well as our new recruits!” – Catherine Maskell, MD, The CMA New CMA Members   Agencies BrandContent – is an award-winning content marketing and PR agency. Experts in full-service content marketing, cumulatively, they’ve racked up over 50 years’ experience building content and PR strategies for some of the UK’s biggest brands in the financial services, technology and healthcare arenas.They are proud to say, we’ve truly enabled these brands to stand-out in extremely competitive markets for all the right reasons. Their results-driven, creative and multi-channel approach brings their clients closer to their customers through content and conversations. Brickwall – Brickwall was started in 2005 by Jon Brichto and Alex Walker who decided to combine their film-making and marketing backgrounds to create a company that was as focussed on client outcomes as it was on creativity. After a lengthy and heated argument over a pint (or three) over what to call their new baby, they simply decided to combine their two surnames and Brickwall was born! Bridge Studios, News UK – Bridge Studio put the power of emotion at the heart of their planning process – they ensure they make campaigns for their clients that not only connect with valuable audiences, but also change how they feel about each brand. Business Reporter – Business Reporter thrives at communicating with the C-suite they do this  ‘day in, day out’ for the likes of Google, IBM, Barclays , SIEMENS , Boots, KPMG, Deloitte, & Grant Thornton to name a few. infogr8 – A strategic content specialist rooted in data to bring clarity to a complex World. They make meaningful content & digital tools, from strategy through to creation for leading brands. JBH – A boutique content agency working with clients of all sizes and verticals to create high-impact content and bespoke digital experiences. Launched in 2013, JBH is the brainchild of three friends and former colleagues with a shared love of high-impact content. Mediaplanet – Mediaplanet is now the world’s biggest media house specialising in niche-topic content campaigns. Born in Sweden, they now serve 16 countries, from 15 offices worldwide. Their print and digital marketing helps companies to become thought-leaders and conversation-starters in their field. They take care of everything – from concept to production, to distribution and analytics – and collaborate with the most impactful influencers to reach the clients’ desired audience. Simpatico – Simpatico is a business PR agency that joins the dots between media, content and technology. Their senior consultants work directly with clients and journalists, providing consistent support, intelligent analysis and strategic planning expertise. Simpatico is rich in journalistic expertise. Many of their team members are former business journalists with a huge scope of knowledge. It means they are brilliant at translating ideas into content. Speak Media – Speak Media is an award-winning, agile content agency that seeks to become an extension of your own business and an integral part of your content culture. The founding partners lead all client relationships and business strategy, so you’ll always have the best people on the job – and access to their handpicked network of experts in individual areas, markets and channels. The Story Lab – Their mission is to become the most innovative global investor, producer and distributor of premium entertainment content that attracts audiences, media owners and advertisers. Brands TSB – TSB Bank plc is a retail and commercial bank in the United Kingdom, which is a subsidiary of the Sabadell Group. TSB Bank operates a nationwide network of 550[5]branches across England, Scotland and Wales. Start Ups Bold Content – Bold Content is a London based video production company. They offer an in-house team of film specialists who can manage the video production process from concept through to completion. Everything Different – Different Story is a new breed of ‘performance-content’ agency, bringing the three specialisms  of optimisation, content and digital together to transform every touch-point on the entire customer journey; connecting  brands with customers. They are obsessive about marrying hero and primary content with optimised digital performance and experience; all the way from awareness-through consideration-to conversion . Freya – is a content marketing agency with full service profile in online & offline communication. They have over 10 years experience in communication and branding in Czech republic. They publish clients & lifestyle magazines, create the content marketing strategies and PR strategies for our clients, also we have a special designers hub. They build social media strategies and performance driven projects for brands. They specialise in fashion industry & luxury goods (especially swiss watches), healthcare, IT and special B2B projects. They worked for example with: Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Hublot, Mont Blanc, Volvo etc. Mahlab – Mahlab believe that done right, content has the power to achieve business objectives, hit your marketing KPI’s & win you critical acclaim. Your content should be seen, heard, discussed, loved and shared by your audience. It should be entertaining, powerful, purposeful, meaningful, have an impact, make a difference and be useful. Running Ed – The Running Ed is a multi-media content & communications consultancy working with endurance brands to create inspiring, far-reaching campaigns both on and off-line. They specialise in content marketing, influencer marketing and PR that nurtures your brand story and engages the community you want to talk to. Overseas  Maxposure – One of the largest content marketing companies in the world offering brands seamless omnichannel solutions. Founded in 2006 in Coral Gables, Florida, today, it has operations in USA, Singapore, Bangladesh, India, UAE, and Bahrain. VERB – VERB’s Social and Content Marketing team is home to 30 talented copywriters, analysts, SEO strategists, paid social strategists, and social media marketers. And we’re supported by User Experience, Creative Design and Development teams. All in we’ve got about 102 employees who live, create, write, and code Travel and Hospitality all day, every day. Affiliate CKN – They have been providing printing solutions since 2002 and now employ some 36 staff. The three founding directors all play key roles in the business giving continuity to the high level of service and advice we offer. They are proud to produce quality results time and time again; the reason for such loyalty from our customers. This is backed by our many quality accreditations such as ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental) and ISO 18001 ( Health and Safety). Customers enjoy their flexible approach that ensures they get their jobs when CKN promise them and at competitive prices. Use of a continental shift pattern allows for 24/7 operation. Read more A Day in the Life of Richard Silvester, Founder & MD, infogr8 6:30 am: The morning of a data-led MD isn’t actually as futuristic as it might sound. I often start the way most people do: a bit of toast and marmalade, hot coffee and some light reading (maybe a newspaper, or whatever book I’m on). Shortly after breakfast, I check my stats from the previous day on Gyroscope, my go-to app to track all the data I generate throughout my days. A quick glance on yesterday shows when I was most productive online, most active outdoors and most on top of my game. Mornings are my sweet-spot for productivity. On a more competitive note, I really should be taking the longer walking route from the station into work if I have any chance at beating Jahied our account manager in this week’s step competition… 7-8 am: I always start my day by keeping up with a wide range of media: Apple news gives me access to a wide range of outlets like The Guardian, Mirror, Telegraph, and Evening Standard, as well as my usual daily reads from Monocle and FastCo. Traversing around the plethora of dogs in the morning rush of Parsons Green, I find my way on the tube and head into Central London. 8 am: An early morning creative briefing at The Ned, usually joined by one of our clients or partners to catch up on the latest work. Today it’s GSMA, to discuss where things are at with the development of an interactive tool we are building for their flagship mobile money report. 9:15 am: After a short hop on the bus and brisk walk to the agency studio, the team is getting ready for our daily stand-up session, a check-in to gain visibility on where we are with projects, who’s doing what, any blockers and how we can support one another. Following team stand-up, I review some on-screen work alongside creatives. 9:30 am: By now the team stand-up is coming to a close and it’s time to take a deep dive into the latest creative work we’ve been producing. Alongside our Creative Director, I review key client work that needs to be QA’d. First, a content outline (what we often call a “data map”) for a piece of content that has lots of data and stats that need to be distilled for ease of consumption. With sticky notes and sharpies in hand, our designers begin walking us through the various creative concepts with myself mapping the creative against where it sits within the user journey. We also take a look at insights from a user research report for Internet Watch Foundation and a storyboard for an explainer video for the Rail Delivery Group. 10:30 am: Time to get a broader temperature gauge of all that’s happening at the agency: I take a glance at infogr8’s internal dashboard, keeping a keen eye on our client accounts, digital ecosystem including social media interactions to stay alert to the good health of the agency and to follow anything up with our operations manager. 11 am: The studio’s timetimer rings out and that calls to getting back out onto the field for a client session. I head out with our Creative Director, Content Strategist and Account Manager to Kaspersky HQ for a creative session with their marketing team. The purpose of the session is to define the evolving creative vision and strategy for Kaspersky’s B2B marketing efforts in 2018. 1 pm: We wrap up the session meeting and I part ways with my colleagues to head to Gymbox for a quick lunchtime workout. My usual class is HIT (High Intensity Training) and my weekly instructor helps keep the heart pumping (true to its word: Gymbox’s mantra is “go in, crawl out”). A quick lunch on the way back and energising smoothie gets me back on my feet. 2 pm: I’m back in the studio and I respond to a few of the more pressing emails and get back to queries from team members on Slack. With new clients coming in shortly, I revisit the agenda, jot down a few notes and gather my thoughts for the next session. 2:30 pm: Next up is a brand immersion workshop with Expedia. Alongside their team, we breakout the whiteboard markers and sticky notes again to start mapping out the content Expedia is seeking to present through it’s GLO department. There’s a lot of information to summarise and cover from a large survey of their audience’s needs – distilling and visualising the data in a compelling story will be a key factor to success. Our Senior Project Manager starts mapping out some project timelines and we agree to follow up on finalising project detail. Our best ideas usually start on the whiteboard – not everything has to be high-tech! 4:30 pm: Following the session, I catch up with our Data Journalist on a few pieces of internal content we have upcoming in the content calendar. We head to Caravan, one of our favourite local cafes in Clerkenwell to catch up with a specialist photographer helping us with a new collaborative project on how people interact with data in everyday life. We scan through the photos and jot down a few ideas for extra locations to round out the project. Later on, we also Skype our web developer to walk through the recent prototype on an scrollable story looking at the art, science and data of great food photography. Both pieces look promising and nearing completion. 5:15 pm: The day is winding down, and I’m back at my desk catching up on some client comms. A delivery man walks in with a package containing a rewarding surprise: a print copy of DNV GL’s annual Energy Outlook report, full of beautiful and complex data visualisations, and shipped from Norway. I share the book with the creative team and we’re thrilled at how the book finally translated in print. We place the book on our client shelf next to previous annual reports. 5:45 pm: Another day has nearly flown by. That’s 16,000 steps gyroscope tells me, must remember to drink water! 6 pm: Time to head home. I take a short walk down to Farringdon station to catch the next tube. On the journey home I try to unwind a little and get an 80’s nostalgic kick currently listening to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. 7 pm: Home again. I jot down a few more ideas I had while on the tube before retiring my notebook and pen for the evening. My phone buzzes gently with a notification from Gyroscope: I surpassed my step goal for the day and overtook Jahied for the lead this week. Sharing a screenshot of the results and a smiley face revelling in the results felt appropriate as an end of day ritual. Time to relax, refresh and prepare for another focussed day ahead tomorrow. Richard Silvester, Founder & MD, infogr8 Read more Native Advertising Digital Breakfast 14/02/18 Consumer tolerance for online advertising is going down fast, with the rise of adblocking, ad fraud bots, fake news sites and more. Native Advertising offers brands the opportunity to place relevant content in the best possible content to attract and engage an audience. As such it’s spearheading the next generation of advertising in digital media. At this session we’ll look at how you can initiate and develop powerful Native Advertising campaigns. We’ll look at the creative approaches that work, how you can measure success, and the important issues around trust and authority. We look forward to seeing you there! Follow the link at the bottom of the page to book your tickets. Speakers Dale Lovell, Co-Founder & Chief Digital Officer, ADYOULIKE Dale is the UK MD and Chief Digital Officer at ADYOULIKE, a worldwide leader in native advertising. He has worked in journalism, digital publishing, content strategy and creative content marketing for over 15 years. Prior to ADYOULIKE, Dale was co-founder of Content Amp, a content distribution service that he helped to build from scratch which then merged with ADYOULIKE in March 2014. In 2015 he was listed as a BIMA Hot 100, and Dale also sits on the The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK’s content & native advertising council. Chelsea Blacker, Managing Director, BlueGlass Chelsea is co-founder and Managing Director at BlueGlass – an SEO and content marketing agency in London, specialising in driving organic growth for its clients. Chelsea’s clients have included Harrods,,, Arcadia Group, The Financial Times and Expedia” More speakers to be added soon. Host: Tim Tucker, Training Consultant – CMA. Tim is a trainer, content strategist, online copywriter, user experience designer, and consultant who helps people to communicate better through digital media. He has over 13 years’ experience working in digital media. When? Wednesday 14th February 2018 9am – 11am (Breakfast consisting of delicious bacon sandwiches, pastries, fruit pots and smoothies is served from 8:30am) Where? Etc Venues 51-53 Hatton Garden Clerkenwell London EC1N 8HN Cost? CMA Members: £50 + VAT General Admission: £100 + VAT       Read more Stats, Facts & Future Trends 2017: A Year in Content It’s been a whirlwind of a year in content marketing, a year in which the media landscape and the expectations of consumers and clients have dramatically changed. Charting this progress has been the CMA’s monthly research round-up, a gathering of the most important and useful pieces of marketing and media research from around the world. So to usher in the New Year, we wanted to look back on the past 12 months and remind ourselves of the vital stats that defined 2017 and the trends that look likely to define 2018. Mobile After every end-of-year survey for the past decade proclaiming the next 12 months would be the Year of the Mobile, 2017 was undoubtedly the year it finally happened. Whether it’s the amount of time we spend on our mobiles (five hours a day), what we do with them (there are now over 40m smartphone shoppers in the UK) or how much clients spend on them (almost £7bn) the mobile is now fundamental to every marketing campaign for every brand. Video Whether it’s on a smartphone, tablet, TV or the good old desktop, digital video viewing also ballooned in 2017, and is now one of the most common digital activities in the UK, with 65% of the population defined as digital video viewers (compared to 64% of smartphone users). With continual uptake from the over 55s and children under 11, this figure is set to rise further over the next few years. Indeed, children are driving the popularity of YouTube, with 7.6m digital video viewers under the age of 18. This popularity is clearly affecting the amount of money spent on digital video, with advertisers spending more on video ads than banner ads for the first time in the first half of 2017. According to the IAB’s Digital Adspend report, spending on online video ads grew 46%, to reach £699m. Social media While all of the major social media channels grew in popularity in 2017, the most explosive growth was felt by Snapchat, whose UK base jumped to 13.6m people – roughly one-third of all UK smartphone users. Just behind Snapchat in the UK is Instagram, which reached 14.4m users. However, both are still eclipsed by Facebook, whose UK base is still over 30m people. Snapchat also looks attractive from a content marketing perspective, with a Danish research firm finding that many brands are finding success on the platform. They discovered that more than 50% of Snapchat users will open a brand’s story and more than 85% of them will then watch the entire story. A report by Brightcove back in April also highlighted the link between watching branded videos in the social sphere and purchasing product, with 43% of UK adult social video viewers making a purchase after watching a branded video. There was another interesting report for content marketers with Warc’s 2017 analysis of their 2016 Warc Prize for Social Strategy, which found that 93% of the winning social strategies were ‘top-down’ (brand-generated content) as opposed to ‘bottom-up’ (consumer-generated content). The report also found a marked increase in the use of content in social campaigns, with 79% of entrants using content in their social strategy in 2016 compared with 41% in 2015. Looking towards the future A number of reports have indicated that the next few years are going to be good for content marketing. The key figure is that the global content marketing industry is is projected to rise to $412bn by 2021, fueled by the three growth drivers of building brand awareness, lower costs than traditional advertising and an increased conversion rate. It should come as no surprise to discover that digital will account for a significant part of this increase, with digital media spending forecast to increase to $118bn by 2021. There are a number of other areas that are likely to develop over the next 12 months: New technology The emergence of new platforms and hardware is always exciting, not least for the content marketer keen to make their client brands stand out. Technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality are being improved upon all the time and 68% of UK marketers think such innovations will give their brands a competitive edge. But while they may be exciting to the marketer, other reports warn them to tread carefully or risk a consumer backlash. A report by Oracle Retail in December found that 64% of consumers liked the option of using virtual reality to choose a product, and 67% liked the idea of drones delivering to their doorstep, 57% considered apparel recommendations from robots to be invasive. Internet of Things The popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart TVs, connected cars and fitness trackers has opened up the possibility of using them as platforms for advertising, and a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) survey found that consumers would actually be receptive to ads on their devices. The research discovered that 65% say they’re willing to receive ads on IoT screens, especially if marketers offered incentives, such as coupons or extra features. Speech Many of you will have received for Christmas or already own a voice-activated speaker, and these are rapidly developing into the next big opportunity for content marketers. In its first forecast on users of digital assistants, eMarketer found that in 2017, 35.6m Americans used a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month, with Amazon’s Echo taking the lead spot with 70% of users. Meanwhile, over 60m Americans have used Siri, Cortana or another virtual assistant at least once a month in 2017. Personalisation Long known as a key driver to customer engagement, 2018 could be the year that personalisation really takes off, thanks to improved targetting technology and brands harvesting more data. In a report titled The Personalisation Imperative for Content Marketing, 88% of respondents said that personally relevant content improves how they feel about a brand, while 78% said such content increases their purchase intent for a brand’s products and services. In 2017, marketers certainly knew the power of personalisation, with 65% saying they are implementing personalised marketing strategies, but over a third of internet users under 50 said that personalised ads just weren’t good enough. Expect that figure to drop in the next 12 months. Commissioned by The CMA       Read more ‘Alexa…get me some content, please’ Voice Activation is sure to be one of the big issues of 2018. But what else? CMA consultant editor Dominic Mills looks at trends in the wider world of marketing communications and tech through the lens of content marketing. How many families took ownership of an Amazon Echo, Google Home or other voice device this Christmas? The Radiocentre predicts UK Echo penetration will hit 40pc sometime this year, but with prices dropping to stocking-filler levels, my guess is that’s an under-estimate. Indeed, it’s possible to imagine a world in which households have multiple devices – living room, kitchen and one in each bedroom. But voice isn’t the only issue marketers will have to grapple with this year. There are plenty of others bubbling under, many – but not all – driven by tech. How will the platforms – Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Amazon – develop? Is this the year of VR or, like mobile, is its arrival always delayed? Everybody’s talking about personalisation at scale. But what does it mean for content? And how does GDPR – going live in May 2018 – affect that? Outside of tech, is ‘brand purpose’ still relevant, or a busted flush? And with the likes of P&G eschewing narrow targeting in favour of the brand fame approach, where does content fit in? There’s lots to think about. Sit tight then while the CMA gives you its potted guide to the stuff every content marketer needs to focus on. #1. ‘Alexa…get me some content, please’ When you can just speak to your voice device to order your shopping, renew your car insurance or offer holiday inspiration, the balance of power for brands hangs in the balance. As the gatekeepers that assist us with the menial, everyday tasks, power resides with the device, and that brands that succeed will those that occupy the default position on Alexa and its peers. This places a premium, first on brand presence, and second on utility or helpfulness. Content is a key driver of utility, whether it’s recipes, cocktail suggestions (check out Diageo’s Virtual Bar) or the ability to answer questions.  Brands with existing content can adapt it to audio. Everybody else needs to get started. Alexa Skills is the place to start. But don’t forget to get the tone of voice – literally and figuratively – spot on. Content-driven copywriting for audio will be at a premium. Content opportunity: 9/10 #2. Amazon – get a strategy As Amazon drives forward – not just in voice, but as a retailer in its own right too – brands need to figure out how to deal/live with the giant. Part of this will involve co-operation and partnership, part competition. The key is in thinking of it as a platform. Just as brands optimise their presence on YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest, so they will need to do the same on Amazon. In terms of advertising offerings, it’s behind the other platforms, but catching up fast. The lesson: get familiar with its various offerings and figure out where content fits in. Content opportunity: 6/10 #3. Personalisation at scale – how relevant is it? One of the buzz-phrases for 2018 is ‘personalisation at scale’, maximising the promise of tech to deliver millions of individually personalised messages. For marketers, it looks like nirvana. That’s the theory, but I’m not sure the reality stacks up. GDPR – see #4 – is a threat. And does it really mean absolute personalisation, or does it mean micro-segmentation? Either way, this trend places a premium on content that can be repurposed many times or the ability to find multiple messaging or multiple ways of saying the same thing. Content opportunity: 6/10 #4. GDPR Punitive sanctions for breaches of the tough new EU rules on privacy (and personalisation without express and specific consumer permission) mean many brands, publishers and intermediaries are running scared of GDPR. What happens if I break the rules? What happens if I can’t get the right permissions from existing or target customers? The upside is that GDPR should clear out the bad actors. As organisations clean up their practices, so it is likely that trust between brands and consumers – ad blocking as one consequence, for example – can be restored. In a nutshell, GDPR means that if you want to use personal information, you need consumer permission. In fact, trusted brands are in a strong position to get those permissions. What builds trust? If you see content as a way of bringing a brand promise to life or driving an engagement that consumers find rewarding – actions, not just words – then it can play a key role in any GDPR strategy. Content opportunity: 8/10 #5. Brands: ‘purpose’ versus ‘positioning’ After blowback on Pepsi/Kendall Jenner and Heineken’s efforts last year to claim a higher purpose, some are rethinking the idea of purpose as a meaningful differentiator. Diageo, for example, has toned down the female empowerment line it adopted for Bailey’s (‘Be a Woman for Life’) in favour of recreational enjoyment (‘The Pursuit of Pleasure’). But trust in brands is still low, with a Havas study showing consumers have little interest in most brands. Meanwhile millennials claim they prefer brands that try to achieve some societal good – environmentalism isn’t going out of favour any time soon. Many brands therefore will stick with the idea that purpose is worth pursuing. That being so, they will need to recognise purpose isn’t just an end line but requires a commitment to powerful and ongoing storytelling – i.e. content. Content opportunity: 7/10 #6.  Brand fame vs targeting As brands chase top-line growth – i.e. selling more things to more consumers at better margins generates faster growth than just selling more to your existing consumers – so the Byron Sharp school of brand fame is gaining ground. This posits that brands can only grow by recruiting new consumers, and the best way do that is by achieving fame so that, when they enter the purchase funnel, your brand has saliency. On the other side of the argument – and life is perhaps not quite as binary as the protagonists make out – sit the targeters, often with a digital bias, who believe laser-like precision is the way forward.  One expression of this is loyalty – see #7. TV remains the simplest, quickest way to achieve fame. But certainly not exclusively, and at any rate, with media budgets under pressure, no brand can achieve long-standing fame by TV alone. The case for content marketing, to build on and amplify, TV is therefore strong, especially if brands adopt an always-on approach to content. Think of the best-known brands in just about any category – BMW, BA, Dove, John Lewis, Johnny Walker – and chances are they are underpinned by content. Content opportunity: 8/10 #7. Loyalty – another side of the fame coin Rewarding loyal consumers with content – all those supermarket or bank magazines, for example – has long been a traditional marketing practice. But thanks to the egregious and under-hand tactics of some brands – think of utilities and insurers who reward new customers more than existing ones, or Vodafone’s nasty trick of adding an unseen £1 to bills – the concept of loyalty has become inverted. My thanks to Nicky Bullard, chair of MRM Meteorite, for pointing out that it is brands that should be leading the charge, rather than penalising loyal customers in favour of luring the promiscuous. Reciprocal loyalty is what we need, she says. The argument therefore that content – allied to proper incentives, of course – can be the vehicle through which loyalty is driven, a point also made by the Havas survey. Content opportunity: 9/10 #8. Virtual Reality – it’s time might be now Ok, here’s the wild card (with the caveat that it’s absolutely not relevant or financially worthwhile for all brands): VR. Yes, that’s virtual reality, as in the next big thing that’s been coming for the last five years. What’s different this time? VR is now verging on the mainstream. The proof is this Argos page, which lists 21 different VR headsets priced from £3.49 (ok, ridiculously cheap, but mid-range headsets are around from £70-£90.00). Will consumers want to watch branded or brand-produced VR? Quite possibly, because not every media owner has the resources to produce the stuff or can do it without ad support. But VR is nothing without good content. And why can’t content agencies fill that gap? Content opportunity: 10/10 Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more Everything you wanted to know about our Grand Prix winner A film made to highlight driving regulations for foreign truck drivers entering Norway doesn’t especially sound like the raw material of a content marketing award winner. Yet at this year’s CMA awards the judges were unanimous that the Grand Prix winner would be the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (NLIA) for its film, The Truck Driver’s Mother. What blew the judges away was how a mundane subject was brought vividly to life by creating an narrative that emotionally hooked not just truck drivers but anyone who watched the film. Created by Geelmuyden Kiese the film follows the journey of Polish driver Lukasz as he takes his cargo into Norway. Only this  time he has with him a very special guest, his mother Anna. The film then cleverly, and playfully tracks their trip ensuring that the key messages about the regulations are incorporated into the movie, mainly spoken by Anna. It is a genius idea, after all, who doesn’t listen to their mother? Beautify scripted with stunning Norwegian landscapes as a backdrop and a gorgeous score, The Truck Driver’s Mother is four minutes of compelling video which has apparently already caused quite a stir among its target audience of East European truck drivers. To find out more we quizzed Trygve A. Tønnessen, Senior Creative at Geelmuyden Kiese about the idea for the film, how it was shot and what its audience makes of it. We have never had a Norwegian winner, was it a surprise when you took the Grand Prix prize? That was of course a huge surprise! Especially considering all the large brands and amazing agencies that we were up against. But with twelve shortlists – four alone for ‘The Truck Driver’s Mother’ – we had our fingers crossed. We got two golds last year, with six nominations, so we would have been disappointed going home empty handed. But two silvers, two golds and the Grand Prix award, it exceeded all expectations! How did you go about creating the video? Where did the idea for the mother come from? What was the rationale behind using the mother? The idea is quite simple really, and is rooted in what was the original problem. The clients had been trying to reach these foreign drivers for a long time, but without much success. So, we asked ourselves: If they don’t listen to the Norwegian Government and the rest of the client group, who do they listen to? And of course, that’s their mothers. Like everyone else, there is something special about mothers. They have the ability to tell us off, and make us straighten up and listen – but in a way that shows us that it’s because they care. And that’s what the message is all about: We have something important to tell all drivers coming to Norway, and it’s important because we want you to have a safe journey here. Was is a conscious attempt to move away from a boring talking head video? It was always our mission to do something bold and different. Especially since traditional, straight-forward information had failed. Also, because the target group was so specific, and often both misunderstood and stigmatised, we really wanted to show them that we were not taking easy on this. That we care and understand them. Were the people in the video actors? If not how did you go about sourcing the Polish driver and his mother? Definitely not, they are as real and genuine as they come – which I feel is vital for the whole idea and concept of this job. We were adamant from the very beginning that this was going to be a real Polish truck driver, with his actual mother, on an actual driving assignment in Norway. So, it sort of was the casting process from hell, but in the end, when we found them – we knew that they were perfect. Anna is a single mother of five – Lukasz being her only son. When coming to Norway, it was actually the first time she had been on a plane. So already then it was an experience for life for her. And she told us time and time again how grateful she was for getting this opportunity to follow her son on this trip. Which of course was a great thing for us to hear, knowing that we follow her and Lukasz through long days with cameras constantly following their every move. Part of the appeal of the video is its stunning landscapes and beautiful music, how did you go about choosing them? This is what Norway is like, so that was the easiest part of the whole process! Of course, we needed a route that showcased some of the challenges that comes with driving in Norway – so we scouted a lot to find the best mountain roads, the most majestic fjord and longest tunnels. But when it comes to finding stunning scenery in Norway, it’s more or less cherry picking. The music, which is the director’s merit, is said to be Poland’s most cherished lullaby. When we listened to it for the first time, it felt like the perfect match for both the storyline and the pictures. I actually sing it for my kids when I put them to bed now. Although I’m humming of course – I neither speak nor sing a word Polish. From a perspective of ROI how successful has the video been. Do you have stats to show that it has influenced truck drivers? What we are after here is first and foremost a long-term effect, so I think it still is a bit early to conclude. However, the indications are very promising. The clients together do thousands of roadside controls and inspections at all border crossings into Norway. And a lot of the drivers they talk to here tell them that they have seen the film, and confirm that the message has come across. And when governments from other countries than what was originally a part of the campaign reach out, asking for the film and website to be translated into their languages as well – I feel certain that we are on the right track! Watch the video below to see what Geelmuyden Kiese did with their award. Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA   Read more The case for brand communities: 40% say they would spend more… A couple of weeks ago we previewed our new report, The Benefits of Brand Communities, at an event which also featured a panel discussion hosted by Catherine Maskell, Managing Director of the Content Marketing Association. The discussion was based on the findings of the report which shows how important being part of a brand community is to consumers, and for marketers how it benefits both spend and loyalty. It included speakers from Harley-Davidson, Metro and City AM, Porsche Club GB and the Department of Psychology at the University of East Anglia.  Looking at the detail of the report, 40% of people we surveyed in the UK this summer said that being part of a brand community meant they’d be likely to spend more money on that brand’s products and services, and that rose to well over half (58%) of consumers aged 25 to 34. We all know that consumers are constantly seeking inspiration and information, but sometimes the marketing industry’s over-reliance on tech-focused tools can mean that brands are communicating in a way that is intrusive, blunt and ultimately ineffective. Our research shifts the emphasis from a data-or-nothing approach to cultivate long-term relationships, brand advocacy and boost sales. One of our event panellists, Dr Charles Seger, who leads the Social and Embodied Cognition Research Group at the University of East Anglia has endorsed the report’s findings with his own analysis of consumer behaviour, telling us that: “Belongingness is one of our basic human needs. We are motivated to both assert our group identification and our individuality. Brand communities can allow us to fulfil these motives. People will stay loyal to brand communities that provide a unique experience, allow us to express our self-concept, and engage us with a meaningful community.” In total, 1,200 UK consumers were surveyed by Censuswide on our behalf, exploring attitudes towards brand community, loyalty and communications, with a focus on the luxury, automotive and travel sectors. When it comes to specifying how important brand communities are in specific industries, 25- to 34-year-olds lead the way: 57% of millennials think that brand communities are important in luxury; 56% in the travel sector agree and 55% in the automotive sector. The average is 41% for travel, 36% in luxury and 34% in automotive. Other key results include: 37% of respondents are more likely to stick with a brand than switch to competitors if they are part of a community Quality of service turns consumers into brand advocates in the travel sector, according to 41% of respondents Quality of products makes consumers brand advocates in the luxury (44%) and automotive sectors (37%) In luxury, respondents most value discounts and offers from brand communities (47%), followed by invites to exclusive events (25%), receiving exclusive products (22%) and access to exclusive online content (19%) Email is the consumer’s preferred channel for communication with brands, with social media and magazines the next most popular channels. Commenting on the report for us, Chris Seaward, General Manager of the Porsche Club GB, and a major advocate of brand communities said that “reaching a new lead is an expensive thing for a brand to do. Through a community like the Club, the Porsche brand can connect with people already engaged with the brand, and tapping into this existing community becomes cost effective. There is additional value for members and the brand as enthusiasts are regularly invited to visit the Factory in Stuttgart to see latest designs and development.” Catherine Maskell’s view of the relationship between content and communities is equally unequivocal.  “Community is best enjoyed when the relationship is a two way-street – if you empower, engage and integrate with your customers you ultimately make them feel special, and subsequently they will feel encouraged to give back. Which is why so many people agree that they spend more and are more loyal to brands when they are part of their community. When interacting with these communities it’s easy to be blinded by focusing on the technology used to deliver branded messages however this can lead to not enough time being spent on generating genuinely useful content and real human engagement.” The findings and analysis in The Benefits of Brand Communities provide invaluable insights that I hope will encourage brands to consider the relevance of community-based marketing. Developing a strong brand community can create a viable, long-term advocacy mechanism, increase the lifetime value of existing customers, and provide potential customers with an honest, open and inclusive window on a brand, product or service. The full report, The Benefits of Brand Communities, is now available as a free download from our website, or you can get in touch with me to obtain a hard copy or discuss content and communities further. Download the report here. Zoë Francis-Cox, Agency Director, Archant Dialogue     Read more Is Personalised Content Getting Smarter? Technology can be transformative, making lives easier and less stressful. However, if there’s one topic that seems to always raise the blood pressure of marketers it is tech-driven personalisation of content. Content marketers not only have to think about ROI on the content they produce for their own platforms, but also invariably optimise it for social media too. Personalising it for individuals seems like an additional task that they really could do without. However there are figures that suggest that companies that do optimise the content for their visitors are much more likely to have successful outcomes whether that’s brand awareness or direct sales. For example in 2015, technology market researcher Gartner published a statistic that suggested that by 2018, companies that have “fully invested in all types of personalisation” will outsell companies that have not by 20 percent. That’s a fairly significant margin. Many online retailers have already achieved huge success with personalisation.  Amazon has offered suggested additional purchases based on personal behaviour for many years now. There’s also a significant amount of personalisation in both online display ad words and in social platforms. So why not content too? The good news is that the increasing sophistication of Artificial Intelligence has helped spawn a new breed of startups which in theory should make personalising content a lot easier and significantly more automated. How personal? Much of the way that the content is personalised depends on the data that is generated by a person. The task for brands is to interpret this data and then come up appropriate solutions. Brands can learn much about a person from not just the content they choose to read or view, but also other factors, such as the time of the day they visit, the length of time they spend reading the content, the device they use and their previous interactions with the site. All this data can be harnessed to ensure that the content that is delivered matches the expectation of the visitor and ensures that they engage with the brand in a way that is meaningful for both parties. At the moment a lot of the personalisation of content is at a fairly basic level. So, for example, brands will use the data they have on a visitor and make the call about where they are on journey. Then serve them pop ups or boxes highlighting additional content, offers, subscriptions etc. Pioneering startups Content personalisation is however likely to become a lot more sophisticated thanks to a new breed of startups who are harnessing Artificial Intelligence to take the concept further. Liftigniter recently announced that it has raised over $6 million to help websites of all stripes to personalise the content they serve readers. “Our customers’ websites are living and breathing things, and the connections between every piece of content is changing,” co-founder Adam Spector told TechCrunch. “The articles you write today could be super relevant to an article that’s five years old. The relevance may change over time. The world is constantly in flux, the idea of having a hard-coded, static list of connections doesn’t make sense.” Liftigniter uses AI to look at a variety of signals to determine a person’s journey and the intent they might have in visiting a site. It then delivers the most appropriate web page. The there’s Dynamic Yield, an Israeli startup which has raised a very significant war chest of around $50 million to enable brands to streamline and automate the personalisation journey. It is not just web pages that are personalised in this way either. Clinch is a startup that has developed personalised video ads. The technology could however be used to deliver personalised video content too. If you want to know more about personalisation of content then the Digital Breakfast this Wednesday (8th) is focusing on the topic with views from a range of speakers from both technology companies and agencies. More information here. Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more The Sweet Spot Where Content, Influencers and Social Meet There’s a growing industry consensus that the point where content, influencers and social platforms interact is a sweet spot for brands, says consultant editor Dominic Mills. The trick is how to take advantage of it, manage it and maximise the return It’s one of the jobs of a consultant editor to roam the landscape, gathering and sorting truffles for the audience to consume. Not too shabby, as jobs go. Let’s start with influencers, a hot subject. At last month’s Festival of Marketing the subject of influencers was near-ubiquitous. What influencers do is create content. Not ads, not marketing collateral, not material necessarily aligned with the top or the bottom of the purchase funnel, but plain and simple content. So…first stop is October’s CMA breakfast on ROI. Of the many nuggets on show, one comment from Jules Lund, founder of the Tribe social influencer agency, caught my ear. Pointing to his smartphone, he noted that the current models came packed with camera-enhancement tools – filters, AR and so on – that made the posting of near-professional quality content incredibly easy. Combine that with a) a profusion of platforms – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc – b) a millennial cohort with an appetite for recording and making public every aspect of their lives via video or image (including their interactions with brands) – and c) a whole new aspect of content marketing opens up. As Lund sees it, these forces are ushering a whole new age, that of the micro influencer. Micro influencers are members of small tribes,  he says, and are replacing celebrity influencers. What they lack in reach, they more than make up for in the engagement they can drive. “The smaller the tribe,” says Lund, “the more personal the contact, the greater the trust and the higher the engagement they drive.” According to Tribe figures, influencers with reach of 3-50,000 followers achieve an average engagement of 4.12pc. Those with 100,000+ achieve about 2pc. Rise of visual platforms Truffling around elsewhere last month, I met Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C, a tech-based outfit that manages social campaigns and helps advertisers sync between social and broadcast. (By the way, 4C offers content marketers a new three-letter acronym to impress: SUR or swipe-up rate. Use that and feel epic.) 4C’s latest figures show the near-vertical rise of ad content on second-generation platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Some of that ad content, assuming it is properly labelled – which is important and failure to do so is potentially a fly in the ointment – is influencer generated. What these platforms have in common is that: a) they have particularly large user bases amongst millennials; b) they are predominantly visual; and therefore c) fertile ground for easy-to-make content of the type produced by influencers. As Goldman notes, they have different characteristics. One that he highlighted was Pinterest, which he described as the most “intent-driven” platform. This makes sense. Search may offer the first signals of intent, but when people start pinning images intent has jumped a gear. This potency is intensified as the platforms add new facilities, such as Pinterest’s visual search mechanic. Emily Kramer, senior media services director at data giant Merkle, describes this as “a capability so compelling that a brand like [US retailer] Target is building the offering into a native app – putting consumer experience at the forefront of the engagement.” On Instagram, immersive full-screen capabilities on the platform’s Stories facility reinforce the value of quality content. Says Kramer: “Content reigns supreme and vertival video provides brands with a full-scale canvas to message their offering.” The Nissan way So what does this mean for brands? Over at last month’s Festival of Marketing, Nissan gave delegates a best-in-class and detailed breakdown of the way it uses content from influencers. The Nissan principle is simple: align its influencer strategy to each stage of the customer journey, integrating it into the broader comms plan. The result is that Nissan now has one comms plan and one budget, out of which comes influencer content. And that content is judged on KPIs that are aligned to the brand objectives – in other words the same as any other part of the comms plan. The mechanics are a little more complicated. Nissan breaks the customer journey into four – See..Think..Do…Care – but the priorities are different for each model in its range. Thus the Qashkai is more about the ‘See’ in order to build reach, while the electric Leaf model is more about the ‘Think’ to drive trust. It has three categories of influencer, from from celebs in the top tier, high-reach individuals in the middle, and lower-reach ‘advocates’ at the bottom. Nissan’s influencer efforts, therefore, are no small beer. Managing them and the process is a big task. All told it works directly with almolst 200, and watches the efforts of 600. This requires an in-house team of four full-time staff. The role of content agencies So, if all these influencers are producing tons of content, where do content agencies fit in? In many places, I’d say. Few clients are of the size of Nissan, capable of funding an in-house unit, and even in-house units need support from outside agencies. One starting point is devising an influencer strategy, which is pretty much an offshoot of constructing a content strategy. What does the brand need, where and when? What role does that influencer content play at different points in the customer journey? Left to their own devices, this is not the sort of thinking influencers offer – and why would they? Managing the process is equally complex and requires both specialist knowledge and an innate understanding of what makes good content. Going down the micro influencer route clearly expands rthe scope of the task. While platforms like Tribe ease the process, there still has to be some quality control and distribution skills applied. Again, these are both areas that fall naturally into the remit of content specialists. Third, staying on top of the rapid developments in platform capabilities is a job that requires experience and expertise. Understanding the different roles of the platforms demands a deep knowledge of the landscape. Again, this falls naturally to agencies. Those working across multiple brands have a better view. Last, there are the issues of measurement and optimisation. Agencies are better placed to understand benchmarks and norms for content engagement KPIs, and then the ability to iterate or optimise content to seek the maximum return. And of course, content agencies are damn good at creating content themselves. Any brand that relies solely on influencers might be taking too great a risk. Just as the confluence of technology, influencers and social platforms offers brands a whole new world to play in, so it does for agencies. Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more Read More News Articles »
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