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CMA International Content Marketing Awards Shortlist Revealed The world’s most competitive content marketing awards London, October 9, 2017: The Content Marketing Association (CMA), the industry body for the content marketing industry, has revealed its shortlist for the 2017 International Content Marketing Awards. The winners of the world’s most competitive awards for the global content marketing industry will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday 28 November at the Roundhouse in London. This year has seen a boom in content marketing strategy budgets, with the value of the global content marketing industry now standing at over £5bn. Significant investment in areas such as video, social and data has been reflected in this year’s ICM Awards, with four new categories added to bring the total to 28. Shortlists of up to 10 entries per category will fight for Gold, Silver and Bronze. In total, the 2017 International Content Marketing Awards has received: Over 400 entries Nominations from 135 agencies Entries representing work for over 260 brands and businesses Nominations from 23 different countries, including UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Sweden and Israel Catherine Maskell, Managing Director for the Content Marketing Association, said: “I am incredibly proud and pleased at the pace of growth of our awards. They are a true marker of the very best in worldwide branded content. The nominees and winners will achieve international recognition as best-in-class in this fast-growing marketing discipline. This growth continues to reflect the pace of change in the way brands market to their audiences.” The first round of judging was completed by a panel of 65 judges from across the agency world, made up of senior-level representatives from CMA member and non-member agencies. The CMA prides itself on the robustness of its judging, and the second stage will be held on Thursday 2 November, with an illustrious line-up of marketing experts forming the final judging panel. To view the Awards shortlist, download the PDF or click here.   Read more Destination Canada ‘Explore Canada with Fred’ by TCO London TCO London‘s 2017 campaign for Destination Canada, the Canadian Tourist Board, launched this month. The campaign comprises a series of films in which Channel 4′ ‘First Dates’ host Fred Sirieix explores Canada’s cosmopolitan cities and stunning nature first hand. In addition to having a prime minister who the world swoons over, Canada was named destination of the year by Lonely Planet, USA Today and the New York Times. Will Fred fall in love with Canada too? Two films were launched on the Daily Mail’s digital platforms, racking up more than 1 million views each. Fred’s films will be followed by a series of influencer films featuring the likes of John Quilter, AKA the Food Busker, which will also appear on The Guardian, Huck magazine, Die Zeit and YouTube. The German-language films on Die Zeit feature a set of German influencers — chef Fabio Haebel, designer Leander Angerer and champion boulderer Monika Retschy — exploring their passions across Canada. This is the third year of TCO London’s production of travel content for Destination Canada. Last year’s campaign has been shortlisted for an International Content Marketing award, in the best travel category. Read more Is Digital PR getting harder? Is digital PR getting harder? In some ways yes, but it’s not all bad news. Stay committed to good storytelling and embrace the winds of change – they bring a broad range of new and exciting opportunities. For those of us working with brands, the question of whether or not it is getting harder to get coverage is an important one. As digital PR continues to evolve, just keeping up can feel like a challenge. With help from some key PR influencers, we address some of the most common fears about whether or not the industry is getting more difficult to navigate.   The first PR campaign on record was the work of Edward Bernays back in 1929. Down in the history books as the ‘father of public relations,’ Bernays was employed by Lucky Strike to convince women to smoke. Bernays wanted to show women that smoking cigarettes was not only respectable, but a step in the right direction in the fight for equality. He paid his secretary Bertha Hunt to smoke on a crowded street during the Easter Parade. While people were initially scandalised, other young women soon followed suit brandishing their ‘torches of freedom’.  A few ads claiming cigs were great for those watching their figures and BOOM –  Lucky Strike sales had doubled by the end of the year. Today things are a bit harder. Back in the good old days the lunches were long and boozy, KPIs were an afterthought and getting coverage was a piece of cake. Then digital came along and everything got a bit murkier. As print slides ever more out of fashion, today most of us are out chasing those elusive backlinks – and they’re getting harder to catch all the time. Linked closely with content for SEO and link-building strategies, the rules for Digital PR seem to change on a day-by-day basis. People expect more compelling content, the pace of change is accelerating and yesterday’s news was forgotten before yesterday lunchtime. For those of us working with brands, the question of whether or not it is getting harder to get links and coverage is an important one. As digital PR continues to evolve, just keeping up can feel like a challenge. Since launching as an agency back in 2013, we have often found ourselves discussing changes in the landscape and the state of the industry with our colleagues and clients. Has it really got harder to make an impact, or are we imagining it? What are the new challenges faced by those working in PR  and how can we turn them to our advantage? Some things never change. Whether you specialise in link-building or traditional media relations, everything comes back to the essential need for strong storytelling. As for the rest of it, it’s simply a matter of navigating modern challenges and turning them into opportunities. With help from some industry influencers, we guide you through some of the concerns shared by those in the industry and advise on how you can turn them to your advantage.   CHALLENGE 1 Things that once seemed new, now seem old They grow up so fast. The internet is 28 years old now but many of us are old enough to remember when it was new and exciting. Online shopping is 23 years old, the blog is 23 and with ‘Dancing Baby’ being the best thing about 1996, the viral video is 21 – almost a responsible adult! As publishers started to wake up to the power of the internet, the volume of online content grew exponentially. This has its pros and cons.  41% of people (and 33% of millennials) claim to feel overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of content choice on the internet. With so much content out there, it’s getting hard to surprise audiences with something new. Make it work for you Don’t rely on cheap tricks and trends with a fast-approaching expiration date. If you have to spend time on refining that angle or money on sourcing that quality data, do it. To ensure you tell a strong story, stay authentic to your brand and its voice but also think about the sites you are targeting and the issues that really matter to their audiences. Embrace new technologies like AR, VR and chatbots, but to keep those links flying in, focus on getting creative with existing formats. Make sure you have a good story to tell – then tell it in a creative way. “Has public relations really changed or is it that we just have various new definitions for what is essentially traditional PR? Influencer outreach, content marketing, stakeholder management – these are all classed as more modern PR tactics but they’ve actually been about for years under the umbrella banner of ‘Communications’. Yes, the platforms on which we unleash various campaigns are now wider than ever before, but the arsenal of tools available to the modern day PR professional makes tracking this work far easier than in days gone by. Not dark social though, that’s a whole new barrel of giggles for modern PR folk.”   CHALLENGE 2 More background noise With new agencies sprouting every five minutes and more content uploaded in an hour than anyone could read in a million years, competition is stronger than ever. 400 hours of video are shared online every minute – and that’s just one format.  Make it work for you For standout content embrace creativity, weirdness and trends for stand-out content. Make the most of your in-house talent. If you make great video content, work tirelessly to stay up-to-date with trends and refine your skills even more and build your reputation in that area. Obvious but effective. “It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Sorting the wheat from the chaff is a huge challenge for communicators now more than ever. Everybody has the ability to access so much material instantly without going through traditional media channels, filtered by ‘professionals’. Equally, this means the opportunity for PR people to get their content directly to audiences without passing it through filters.”   CHALLENGE 3 More channels and platforms As audiences flock to more channels and platforms every day it can be hard to know where to invest your time and energy Make it work for you There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this one – your strategy should be tailored to the specific needs of the business. Rank social networks according to where the brand’s audience currently is and where they are likely to be in the future. Don’t just look at numbers but at engagement, demographic patterns, organic activity, alignment with the core product and content. “New forms of media have supplemented and become a channel for old. Modern relations practitioners must be able to work across all forms of media, and paid and earned. Media relations is making way for influencer relations. Journalists in almost every category have been augmented by so-called influencers that have built their own networks on reputation.”   CHALLENGE 4 Harder-to-impress journos Journalists are so bombarded with pitches and requests (see Challenge 2) that it’s hard to get a response – let alone a feature. 25% of email pitches are rejected by journalists for being too impersonal [Cision] Make it work for you The biggest complaint from journalists is that brands and agencies are sending impersonal emails pitching ideas and content that bear little to no relevance on their site/ publication. Spend time personalising your emails and targeting your content well. Try making the most of new and exciting contacts by asking if there are any specific topics they want covered and shape your campaigns and content around their needs. “More and more PR pros are chasing fewer and fewer journalists. Journalists are being swamped with ‘spam’ press releases. It’s time the PR industry took their research more seriously and tailored their pitches. 90% of what is distributed needs to be cut out and the other 10% sharpened up.”   CHALLENGE 5 Jaded audiences As content online gets ever more varied, authentic and often bizarre – audiences have more or less seen it all. Make it work for you Packaging your content in the right way works, promoting it innovatively helps but it will all be for nothing if the angle doesn’t work. Finding a strong, unique angle may take time, more time than any other part of the process, but it is time well spent. Gather your whole team together, even those not usually involved in the content-producing process and try out some new brainstorming techniques. Our current favourite is the ‘hat’ or parallel-thinking method. “Being able to target particular demographics means we’re still able to ‘shock and awe’. If all you’re trying to do is shock someone, you first need to select an audience that will react to seeing such a thing. By segmenting your audience, you’re able to more accurately predict how people will react.” CHALLENGE 6 We’re so busy! Technology has created a fast-paced 24/7 environment where PR pros are under pressure to be flexible and strong in multiple disciplines. Make it work for you Try partnering up with other people to help bolster each other’s skillsets and relieve some of the pressure. Embrace change and stay flexible and open-minded. PR involves more tasked with the advent of social and digital media – but that’s also why PR is becoming more credible as a discipline – more value. Monitoring and responding in real time to negative sentiment on social and digital channels has become the norm for PR practitioners, consumers might knowingly or unknowingly become the catalyst for a major scandal, look at the American Airlines fiasco. “At JBH, we think about PR holistically – it’s no longer a separate discipline with different objectives. PR is now so closely aligned with SEO, social and influencer marketing, it makes sense to combine strategy and activity.” CHALLENGE 7 We’re drowning in data We know the importance of an analytical approach but it’s hard to know where to find tools that pull the PR value out of all the data. Make it work for you It already is! Today we hear news in real time and have access to everything we could possibly want to know about audience trends and behaviours.No one has time to analyse it all – pick three metrics (e.g. backlink profiles) that correspond to your goals and check on them religiously. “PR is becoming more scientific and data-driven – this is a good thing. Content needs to be relevant, with clear benefits and actions. PRs are now starting to track the effect of their output and feed this back into doing things better.” CHALLENGE 8 Our job roles are changing We’re all under pressure to learn more skills, our roles are entangled and everyone is stepping on eachother’s toes. Make it work for you No one can do it all. Work with your strengths and take the time to really listen to new professionals as well as those from other disciplines. Accept help and offer yours to others. Stay receptive to change, no matter how long you’ve been in the industry. “Time served is the typical measure of competence in public relations. It’s a lousy metric in a business that is moving so quickly. I’ve 20 years in practice but my social media listening skills are a work in progress and I’m lousy at visual community management. The Global Alliance recently published a global competency model. It needs to be developed and adopted as a standard by organisations and industry bodies. Practitioners need to sign up to continuous learning.” We hope this has helped answer any questions you might have about the changing nature of digital PR. Every industry changes but the rules of good PR remain the same. Keep your finger on the pulse. Deliver the right stories to the right people at the right time. Embrace change and keep good storytelling at the heart of everything you do. Happy link-building! See the infographic to go with this article here. Rob John, Digital PR Specialist JBH – Digital PR Read more Living The Brand In a departure from our usual A Day in the Life column, we’ve invited Zoë Francis-Cox, Director at content agency Dialogue, to tell us how she is living the brand every day with key client Harley-Davidson. In the context of my work, I’m often met with surprise when I say I didn’t ride a motorcycle before Dialogue started working with Harley-Davidson… responses include “you actually learned to ride a motorbike for your job?”. The answer is simple: yes, I did. As I browsed through the brief for a magazine for UK members of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) with the team in early 2007, I half-jokingly said that I’d learn to ride a motorcycle if we won this account. Not something I’d ever considered before, but all of sudden it seemed like a cool idea. Skip forward 12 months and we were working on our first issue – not of a UK magazine, but a localized and translated magazine for six EMEA markets. And with female riders a clear outreach target for the brand, it was only natural that I learned to ride and reported on the experience for our first issue. At the time, Harley-Davidson had a Riding Academy based in Wales; the test in the UK was far more relaxed than it is now, but an intensive course and two attempts later, I was the proud owner of a ‘big bike’ motorcycle licence. More importantly, I was now a customer. I bought my first Harley-Davidson, a 2007 Street Bob in Denim Black, just three months later, and by autumn I was on a road trip to Belgium with my partner (I bought him a CBT test for his birthday so he could come too!). As we published our first issue, I was learning fast about the lifestyle associated with this brand. There were events across the country, the EMEA region, and the world, that all sounded amazing. Riders were very proud to wear their apparel and the H-D badge proudly… and they LOVED taking photographs of them, their bikes, and the great places where they rode them. And now I do too. Dialogue’s Agency Director Zoë Francis-Cox rides with 1000s of other Harley-Davidson owners in Croatia. I wanted to be able to share my photos with fellow members, and see other members’ images; I wanted to learn about the best places to ride, the best places to stop for coffee, the best hotels, advice on how to look after my bike, and how to learn to ride better; and I didn’t want to wait three months until the next quarterly printed magazine… Skip forward a decade… I’m on my fourth bike – a super-cool little Sportster Iron! I’ve ridden to a European event every year, sometimes leading a group. A Harley-Davidson Authorized Tours ride in South Africa resulted in a marriage proposal on the back of an elephant; my husband and I have customised five bikes between us; and road trips have become our escape and our passion. Dialogue’s work with the Harley owners Group includes video, event management, social media, email communications and printed assets. As a member of HOG, I now receive a monthly email with all the latest news, tips, event reports and tales from the world of H-D, with UK-specific content (other market editions are available too); the quarterly printed magazine is also digitised with even more members’ images in the digital edition; an online gallery website publishes every single image that is submitted (there are more than 100 every week!) – it’s also linked to an app that facilitates easy upload while on the move. HOG EMEA has a page on a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, which communicate daily on really cool stuff – particularly around the big events. These platforms have really come alive with the use of 360 and VR technology, taking the whole immersive experience to a whole new level! As a member, I’ve never felt closer to this global community of Harley owners. And it’s never been easier to keep an eye on my team! While working with Harley-Davidson has clearly given me many opportunities to indulge my passion for riding, being a customer as well has clearly influenced the ideas and initiatives I’ve worked on with our client over the years, which in turn has led to even greater engagement between the brand and its community. Zoë Francis-Cox, Agency Director, Dialogue Read more iProspect Voice search on track to Drive Business Performance Research study by leading performance marketing agency iProspect finds that voice search adoption is set to grow in importance Global performance marketing agency iProspect unveils a new study exploring the rise of voice search adoption among UK customers. Findings deliver new insight into the factors shaping the adoption of voice activated technology and the future impact it will have on consumer commerce. Key findings: Despite predicted trends on the rise of voice search (50% search being via voice by 2020, ComScore), only 15% of adults in the UK are using voice search today Although the predominant voice behaviour is broad information seeking, 25% of voice search has purchase intent behind it (find a store location, purchase or order something, research something you want to buy) 35-54 year olds are as likely to use voice search as 18-24 year olds Over 10% of 65+ use voice to search in the UK Men are twice as likely as women to purchase using voice Download the full report here  The 2017 research project, based on an online survey of 1,118 UK consumer respondents, reveals that although voice search is on the rise, it is still far from the predominant method of searching. This creates clear implications for brands today and tomorrow. We have focused on the today; the 7M+ people in the UK using voice search in 2017. Utilising the research to identify opportunities for brand to leverage voice search to drive business performance. Stefan Bardega, CEO iProspect UK & Ireland commented: “As technology powering voice search gets smarter, consumer adoption will increase exponentially. This will have major implications for businesses as they’ll have to re-imagine their search strategies if they want their products to be discovered and purchased across all interfaces. Like social and mobile before it, voice activation is disrupting the digital ecosystem for brands. Those that are ready will remain relevant to their customers.” “As consumer expectations and behaviours shift, brands will need to evolve how they converse,” says Caroline Reynolds, Head of Product at iProspect UK.  “The year of voice has not quite arrived, but developing a voice-optimised keyword strategy through understanding the questions consumers are asking, whilst considering how voice search supports omni-channel journeys will set brands up for longer term success and maximising short-term performance from search.” Read more Customer magazines: hardy, perennial performers Hidden amongst a general decline in magazine sales, customer magazines continue to shine brightly. CMA consultant editor Dominic Mills looks at why the category performs for readers and brands. The decline of print magazines is an ongoing story. With a few newsstand exceptions – notably current affairs – last month’s ABC figures showed most titles and sectors are down. There’s digital growth, sure, but it fails to match the slump in print. Yet look carefully at the top 100 titles, and there’s one type of title that continues to outperform the market – those old faithfuls, the customer magazine. And many of them are produced by CMA members like Hearst, SevenC3, John Brown and Cedar. Collectively, they defy the conventional wisdom that digitisation is eating into print. There’s Asda’s Good Living, produced by Hearst, with a circulation of 1.79m; Vitality magazine, published by SevenC3, has a circulation of 570,000, and Sainsbury’s Magazine and Weight Watchers (both paid-for, too) recorded circulations of 166,158 and 100,297 respectively; Cedar’s Tesco Magazine has a circulation of 1.96m; and John Brown’s John Lewis Edition (JLE) and Waitrose Food, with circulations respectively of 487,075 and 690,058. Of course, as Andrew Hirsch, chief executive of John Brown, is quick to note, customer titles are (mostly) free and pushed out through stores, and thus spared the pain of newsstand distribution and sales. Equally, however, he points out, they survive because they deliver for both readers and clients. “They’re still there because readers pick them up and because they work. They don’t get a free ride. They deliver incremental sales and they keep customers coming back to buy,” he says. “If you take Waitrose Food, our job is to get customers to buy two or three items they wouldn’t otherwise have bought.” As an example, he cites Tilda Brown Basmati and Quinoa (so Waitrose), which experienced an uplift of 189pc after featuring in the title. Vitality, produced for the insurance company Vitality Health, represents a significant investment, says SevenC3 chief executive Sean King. “Their ROI from content marketing is in branding, customer engagement and retention. Vitality’s specific proposition is all around healthy living. We produce content across all channels for them, but the magazine brings it together in a way digital alone cannot.” Reward, loyalty and inspiration Driving extra sales is clearly the end game for customer magazines, particularly retailers, but to achieve that, they also need to do other things along the way. Reward, loyalty and inspiration are key aims for any brand, and most have metrics to keep a handle on these softer measures. All three are built in to the DNA of customer magazines. Reward and loyalty are essentially two sides of the same coin. “Making a magazine available to your customers – regardless of whether it is free like JLE or linked to the store card like Waitrose Food – clearly defines the magazine as a reward,” says Hirsch. That in turn engenders loyalty, driving repeat visits or more purchases. According to a survey of readers, 36pc say the magazine alone makes them more likely to shop in the store. This works through to the shopping basket, says Hirsch. “Waitrose Food readers spend five times more money a year in the store than non-readers”. One simple way to achieve this is by inspiring them, whether this is via fashion as with JLE, or food as with Waitrose Food. The aim with Waitrose Food, says long-standing editor and TV personality William Sitwell, “is to position the store as the quality retailer. Every recipe – and we test them all in our own on-site kitchen – must inspire readers. They need to be useful enough for good cooks, but not impossible for novices either.” Figures bear this out. Waitrose says 70pc of readers have cooked at least two recipes, and 44pc cook featured recipes once a month or more. Sainsbury’s Magazine and Weight Watchers also aim to inspire but, as paid-for titles, start from a different place. “They are branded magazines, but operate on the newsstand model, relying on copy sales and advertising revenue to earn their keep,” says the titles’ publishing director Kirsten Price. The magazine acts like a home base for other branded activities, including awards and seasonal paid-for supplements such as the upcoming Bake, timed for the TV baking season. Emotional ingredient Some may be surprised that, in an age of digitisation, readers are more than happy to consume print magazines. Print’s appeal may vary by sector and demographic, but there’s no doubt that when it comes to food and fashion – and which may explain why online fashion retailers like ASOS and Pret a Porter are also print publishers – it can punch above its weight. Hirsch’s theory is that print can also drive an emotional reaction in a way that online publishing cannot. When it comes to engaging the senses – touch, sight, smell – print connects. And as Amazon threatens to steamroller over one retail sector after another, this will count. “I think a part of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods – and don’t forget it’s a physical entity too – is about getting some emotional engagement,” he says. It may be therefore that, to bulwark their defences against Amazon and other online plays, retailers will find that print that engages the readers’ emotions has a role to play. “If JLE can get readers to engage more with the store – whether buying fashion or home products – and make it as convenient to buy from John Lewis as an online retailer – then it is doing its job,” says Hirsch. Price says that for brands that are looking to inspire and engage, then print is the medium. “If you think of food and recipes, a magazine can deliver something unexpected and make it look beautiful and inspiring.” Matching quality One lesson that shines through from customer magazines is that, if they are to compete with newsstand titles, they have to be just as good at grabbing and retaining the reader’s attention. Indeed, Sitwell starts from the point that Waitrose Food doesn’t just compete with other food magazines. William Sitwell picking up Gold in Editor of the Year at the 2016 International Content Marketing Awards “I’m naturally competitive,” he says, “I want to get exclusivity with big-name chefs. I want scoops that generate PR. But I’m always aware that we compete for our readers’ time with everything else – it could be the Sunday Times magazine, it could be others, it could be TV. The magazine has got to be worth picking up, and it’s got to reward readers for the time they give it. I want the title to be better than the competition, and the fact that it is a customer title is irrelevant as far as that is concerned.” So, while customer magazine editors will look to use the same skills as their newsstand peers, they also use similar targeting or profiling techniques. “JLE represents the whole store,” says Hirsch, “but we have one type of target reader in mind – the fashion-interested 35-50-year-old woman – and that’s why 70pc of the title focuses on that area.” In this, he says, JLE follows the targeting principles adopted by newsstand magazines. “If we didn’t, JLE would be a broad church, and the risk is it could become bland.” And here’s an interesting twist in the tail, a theory advanced by King. “If there’s a decline in traditional newsstand titles covering areas like cars, food and fashion, then there are opportunities out there for brands to fill the gap with their own publishing efforts.” But they certainly won’t succeed if they’re bland. Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more Design Council turns to Cedar to solve a monetisation challenge When it wanted an agency to help devise a monetisation strategy, the Design Council worked with the Content Marketing Association’s Advance client-agency matching service. The result: a union with Cedar. CMA consultant editor Dominic Mills tells the story As a marketing consultant to the Design Council, Claire Round was handed an interesting brief: find a way to monetise a pan-European, EU-funded, website called Design for Europe for which the Design Council was the lead partner. The good news was that the site, whose aim is to promote and support the economic and societal benefits of design-driven innovation, had built up a healthy community amongst design practitioners, influencers and public and private sector organisations for whom design is important. This comprised a 100,000-plus connected and engaged audience, as well as a legacy of almost 150 events and workshops. The less-good news was that – entirely unconnected to Brexit, we must note – EU funding for the three-year programme was about to end. “We’d made a lot of progress spreading the word,” says Round. “We couldn’t let it all disappear just because EU funding had come to an end. What a waste that would be.” For Round then, a marketer with a background in the arts and book publishing, the obvious place to start was with the content. “Whether published or live, we knew we had — and could produce — great content,” she says. “But what we didn’t know was whether – and how – we could monetise the content in order to keep Design for Europe going.” First call: the CMA As luck would have it, Round knew and understood content marketing. Better still, having judged its awards, she knew the CMA. “As soon as we started asking ourselves the key questions, ” she says, “it was clear to me that we needed a CMA agency – first, because they understand content, and second because they have market expertise that we don’t. Those questions centred on finding the best commercial route. Would advertising work? What about subscriptions? Was membership viable? Pay per download or a free-paid hybrid? Who were possible commercial sponsors and partners? What would they want in return? And to find a model that aligned with the Design Council’s charity status. “We soon got to a place,” says Round, “where we were talking as much about what we might do as we were looking for a strategy to make monetisation happen. But we were quite open as to what the answers might be.” It was clear then that the Design Council needed a content agency to do the hard thinking, and the best way to find the right one was to use the CMA’s Advance service. It is a free one-stop pitch shop that allows marketers to put a brief out to CMA members (anonymously if they choose), set the required agency criteria, and then select a short list for more detailed responses. Those criteria were tight: knowledge of the design and innovation sector; B2B or charity experience; and a track record of commercialising content or platforms. Since launching in 2015, Advance has put nearly 20 brands together with a CMA agency including, earlier this summer, Eurostar with Cedar. Could Round have done this without the CMA Advance? “Yes,” she concedes, “but I would have spent a long time doing the research to find an agency, and then just as long managing the process. It would have been long winded and time consuming.” Seal of quality In addition, she says, there were other good reasons to go through the CMA. “First, it was immensely helpful to be able to talk to someone like [CMA managing director] Cath Maskell. She’s a marketer herself with over 20 years experience. Second, having someone else facilitate and hustle the process through was a weight off my mind.” Round continues: “Third, we had a real range of agencies reply, and I liked the varied perspectives they brought. And last, going through the CMA meant I knew I could trust in and be confident of the ability of any agency that responded.” After detailed face-to-face sessions with two agencies, the Design Council chose Cedar. The process was speedy too — from initial circulation of the brief to appointment, the time taken was less than two months – an important consideration given that Design Council funding had replaced the EU money. “What really came through was that they understood design in the widest sense of the word, they showed – via clients like Tesco and BA – that they knew about, for instance, service design, and they demonstrated how they could make it meaningful to commercial partners,” says Round. Advance also works for the agencies. “For Cedar, the CMA Advance service has become one of our strongest sources of high-quality content briefs, attracting a wide range of exciting global brands all looking for a new and better way to achieve their goals,” says Cedar’s chief executive, Clare Broadbent. “What sets Advance apart is that the marketing opportunities are always really well scoped. This is gold for us as an agency — it sets the right parameters for us to develop a really game-changing commercial content solution.” Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more Augmented Reality – a technology whose time has come? Part of the genius of Apple is the way it takes nascent technologies, which have in some instances been written off, and with a little design and innovation magic propels them into the mainstream. There were MP3 players before the iPod, but it took Jonathan Ive’s iconic design to create a world beating product. Similarly there were touch screen phones before the iPhone, but again Apple created something new and innovative by making that interfac more effective and elegant than anything that had been available previously. This autumn we could be seeing Apple pull off its party trick yet again in reviving a technology that has never quite made its mark – Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality, or AR as it is commonly known, has been around for a long time, I remember discussing it first more than a decade ago, and as far back as 2010 AR was being positioned as a magic bullet for print based customer publishers. Back then companies like Layar and Blippar had developed platforms that enabled users to point their phone at the written page and access bonus digital content. It was a smart idea, but has never arguably fulfilled its potential. There are however a trio of reasons why Augmented Reality could well be the most talked about technology of the latter months of 2017. Firstly there’s a gold rush going on. Developers still remember the enthusiasm which greeted the arrival of the AR-powered Pokemon Go game a year or so ago. Sure it was a craze, and the numbers playing it have dropped, but it underlined some of the potential of Augmented Reality and crucially emphasised that there was a mainstream audience ready to get excited about it. In turn Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram have all been experimenting with AR via various lenses they offer users. Secondly there is perhaps a feeling that Virtual Reality needs something of a kick to establish itself in the mainstream and AR is a way of helping the technology do this. The two are, let’s face it, in the minds of many consumers, and industry people too, fairly interchangeable. The difference is that AR augments the real world, whereas VR takes the user into a wholly virtual world. Another difference is that unlike most VR, AR doesn’t always require additional hardware to make it work effectively. It can be experienced via existing phones and apps. The third reason is that earlier in the year Apple announced its ARkit which will take the experiments of Snapchat and Facebook to a much higher level.The theory runs like this. The company has reached the point where it is having trouble differentiating its hardware from rivals like Samsung and LG as most smartphones are very similar. AR could then be the killer app which gets people excited about owning an Apple phone again – which is very useful given that the iPhone 8 is likely to launch in September/October. The AR features will be baked into the next iteration of the Apple iOS – 11 and it will be accessible not just on the new phone but some older models too. If you haven’t yet experienced some of the potential of the upcoming AR features then check out this YouTube video. The AR experiences range from useful – the ruler is a very sensible and useful idea through to the downright bonkers – look at some of these demos. Ultimately what this means for brands is a chance to take another look at AR and work out whether there are experiences that take engagement to a new level. AdWeek recently rounded some ideas for brands which range from virtual test drives through to ‘beautifying’ uninteresting spaces. Those experiences doesn’t have to be limited to the phone either but also there is an opportunity to take real world products and enable them, via the technology to interact with phones in an unusual and intelligent way. A good example is the Virtuali-Tee from enterprising Brighton company Curiscope which enables users to take a view of another person’s internal organs in an educational way after they have activated the app and pointed it at a dedicated t shirt. There are likely to be lots of other examples of smart uses like this as the months go by. So Augmented Reality really ought to be on high on your list of things to mull over in the coming weeks. There is a going to a be a huge new market hungry for new apps while at the same time the cost of developing the apps has dropped significantly. AR really is a technology whose time has arrived. Commissioned by The CMA Read more Is creating video for social platforms becoming too complex? Over the last few weeks, one of the most important upgrades in social media that’s likely to happen this year has been rolled out. After making an announcement in February, Facebook finally seems to be adding sounds to videos embedded in news feeds which are seen from its mobile phone apps – though not via the web. Put simply if you hover over the video it starts playing, as it did previously, but this time not silently but with sound. It is a controversial move and one that has already sparked a fairly significant social media backlash. Critics of the move have taken to Twitter (of all places) to announce that they are now deleting the Facebook app and only accessing the platform via the web. They cite instances from a decade or so ago when MySpace, and many other sites, delivered autoplay ads with the sound up. That didn’t end too well for the company did it! The move has accompanied the creation of a new service called Facebook Watch in which the platform attempts to assert itself as a key place for short form professional video. Rolled out in the US last week Watch features content from as many as 30 partners and is being positioned as a rival to content from Twitter and Snapchat. It seems as if the platform is finally making good on a promise from a few years back that video would be the heart of the platform. In theory this should be good news for brands as it opens up yet another way of creating engaging videos. In reality it is likely to be an issue that they don’t consider or even just ignore. That’s because online video on platforms is now starting to get extremely complex. Of course, if you hate the idea then there are ways round hearing the audio. You can obviously turn the sound on your phone. Alternatively you can access Facebook Settings and turn it off. That isn’t the point though. The interesting part for Facebook and brands is to see how many people will actually make the efforts to tame the sound. There is evidence that a lot of tweaks to social media are initially hated by users, who as times goes by grow accustomed to them. Ironically the move has largely been driven by brands. Facebook knows if it wants to broaden its video advertising (and video is so such an important part of its strategy) that it needs to be able to offer autoplay sound from the off. So it needs to get its users accustomed to auto play sound. Yet most of that ad content was originally created for other platforms – like TV – and is being repurposed for Facebook, and isn’t necessarily native to the platform. The move does however have implications for video content creators, especially those who focus on Facebook video. Sound has arguably been a lower priority for some content creators as they seek engagement on the platform. For many having a viewer watch a few seconds with no sound on auto may has been enough to promote a message. It has meant though that the start of videos have been optimised to grab the viewer’s attention and then they have been hooked in with the moving images and the subtitles. The next Digital Breakfast will cover how to use short video formats to attract, engage and drive loyalty Now the question is how should content creators approach Facebook video? Does it make sense to make the most of the addition of sound and use that as an initial hook. Or keep to the established way of doing things without sound initially and with subtitles? The grammar of Facebook video production could be set to change, but only if Facebook users respond in a certain way. It may simply be that the majority of videos are still watched on Facebook on autoplay with the sound down. The future of video content on social platforms seems to be in a constant state of flux. Snapchat recently allowed its users to record six videos at a time while dropping its ten second limit on recording. Meanwhile, Instagram is experimenting with a feature that enables two people to stream content at the same time via split screen. For brands social networks remain at the heart of their video distribution strategies. The only problem is the proliferation of platforms, different methods of presentations and customisation options are now starting to cause real headaches. Video is the future for social networks, but brands scan very easily get stuck in the past. Commissioned by The CMA Read more Read More News Articles »
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