International Content Marketing Awards 2018 The International Content Marketing Awards are the biggest night in the content marketing calendar. Agencies from across the world offer up their greatest work from the past 12 months for judgement by some of the biggest names in marketing. We are excited to announce that there are 24 categories available to enter this year, to win Gold, Silver and Bronze.  The winners from categories excluding individual awards (Editor, Designer & Rising Star) will be put forward for consideration for the ultimate Grand Prix award. For more information on the categories, please click here. KEY DATES Entry deadline: Friday 7th September 2018 Shortlist announced: Monday 8th October 2018 Awards evening: Tuesday 27th November 2018 LOCATION The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London NW1 8EH COSTS Ticket prices remain the same for the 3rd consecutive year. CMA Member Award Entry – £199 + VAT Non – Member Award Entry – £299 + VAT CMA Members qualify for Early Bird entry costs of £156 plus VAT per entry for a limited time. Get in touch for details. CMA Member Individual Award Ticket – £399 + VAT Non- Member Individual Award Ticket – £499 + VAT The ticket price includes entertainment, a delicious 3 course meal and UNLIMITED wine and beer HOST We are delighted to announce that this years host is the hilarious Rob Beckett! If you have any queries, please head to our FAQ page, here     Read more Key Content Marketing Trends in 2018 Earlier in the year, we published an article which highlighted the key trends it believes will shape content marketing in 2018. We suggested that brands would diversify the type of content they produce, and would also invest in developing multidisciplinary content teams. We predicted that GDPR would have a significant impact on the shape of content marketing and that social issues could come to the fore. I think that in many ways we have been more right than wrong in our predictions. Certainly GDPR is a catalyst for seismic change. With the quieter summer months looming we wondered what the companies who are at the cutting edge of content marketing in the UK thought of the way that the discipline has evolved this year. Overall around 20 companies took part with key executives offering their opinions. What we discovered was that content marketers have plenty to be concerned about from GDPR though to emerging social platforms, but they are overwhelming mostly focused on with producing quality content. The impact of fake news and GDPR It is hard to overstate the impact of the growth of fake news on brand communications. That isn’t to say that brands were ever in the business of tricking their consumers. The increasing scepticism with which consumers view social content however has meant that there has been a clear shift from filling platforms with large amounts of content to delivering high quality stories, videos and images that will engage consumers. This includes podcasts and longform, but on an everyday basis means that blog posts, listicles and social updates are more thought out, crafted, ruthlessly edited and rooted in strategy  than ever. Fortunately brands have an emerging ally in their quest for content that will chime with consumers – technology. Use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence continues to grow in content marketing, from helping brands to personalise content through to optimising the reach of that content. The other huge question for content marketers is to how to handle the fall out from the introduction of GDPR last month. Some companies have seen their email lists decimated, while others have started from scratch with new ones. Yet, as tricky as its implementation has been, GDPR presents brands with an opportunity. How can they both create and maintain meaningful relationships with consumers? The longest list of email addresses ever is pretty useless if no one opens the communications that the brand sends. So, it is fascinating time for content marketers of all types. Click here to download the report. Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA Read more Measurement Survey Measurement has been identified by our CMA members as one of the major issues facing the content marketing industry. So we have a set up a CMA Special Interest group specifically to assess and develop a “best practice” approach that can be used to promote and use in the future. Now, more than ever, content marketing needs to find a repeatable and robust method for measuring the value delivered to clients and together we would like to crack it! So with this in mind, we would like to gain some credible research from all content enthusiasts about current existing thoughts and processes on ROI and measurement. Please take 3 mins to complete the survey below. Your time is greatly appreciated, a full report will be shared in September 2018. To be in with a chance of winning £100’s worth of M&S vouchers, please fill in the data capture section at the end of the survey. The CMA’s next Digital Breakfast has speakers from Havas Media, Future plc, infogr8 & Progressive Content If you work for a brand, please complete this survey. If you work for an agency, please complete this survey.   Read more Five innovative examples of content marketing from the US The content marketing industry in the UK is buoyant. According to a recent-ish report from Yahoo and Enders Analysis, it will apparently be worth £349 million in 2020, up from £125 million in 2014. It seems like we are finally catching up with the US which has over recent years witnessed a massive surge in investment in branded content. In fact, according to a report published last November by market research firm Technavio, the global content marketing industry will grow at an annual rate of 16% per year through 2021, reaching $412 billion by the end of 2021. It would however be churlish of us not to admit that some of the best examples of how companies harness content come from the other side of the pond. So here is a selection of great examples to inspire you. SAP Hybris At first glance the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce looks like a standalone editorial site, and a great one at that. It is brimming with insightful thought leaderships articles and state of the industry surveys. The site, however, is an important lead generation tool for SAP Hybris, a company which creates customer engagement software and has partnerships with many of the world’s biggest enterprises. SAP Hybris’ strategy is to encourage potential customers to dip into the website’s high quality content and then to shift them along the funnel. Perhaps firstly to signing up to an email, but then moving them along to SAP Hybris’ more salesy content which they hope will create paying customers. The site is a textbook example of how to harness quality content and SEO techniques to creates sales leads. Away Travel One of the big questions the founders of startup Away Travel had to grapple with was ‘how do you make luggage interesting?’ How do you shift the dial from being perceived as a bag maker to emerging as a lifestyle travel brand. The solution for Away has been content and in particular its excellent content portal here. It’s a first class travel magazine that mixes advice – like improving your travel selfies – with guides, such as finding the best restaurants in Madrid. The content is short, pithy and engaging and accompanied by high quality images. In 2017 Away followed in the footsteps of Airbnb and ASOS and created a printed version of Here. It has a high ticket price of $25, but for that investment its readers are able to revel in some glorious photography and excellent long form content. First Round A few years ago Venture Capitalists realised that if they wanted to attract the hottest tech startups they would have to create great content to underline their approach and thought leadership. First Round does this on an almost industrial scale and is reaping the rewards for its diligence. It boasts a suite of nine online magazines, from sales through to fundraising, which offer insight and advice for growing tech companies. The quality of the content, much of which is verging on longform, is uniformly excellent. In the last year the company has also innovated ensuring it is where its customers are on social channels like Medium, but also creating First Search, a comprehensive database of articles about companies compiled from across the web. Users offer up a little information about themselves, and the search engine optimises the features it delivers to them. General Electric General Electric is a content marketing innovator which has over the years delivered a huge content portal, experimented with emerging social platforms and pioneered the use of technology such as drones in branded content creation. In many ways its flagship content site, GE Reports is the gold standard of branded tech content – an inspired mixture of forward looking technological articles and videos often illustrated by company case studies. The roundup of The 5 Coolest Things On Earth This Week which focuses on brilliant innovations from the world of academia, is unmissable. Tomas Kellner, the editor in chief at GE recently told Forbes that the quality of branded content has to be really high now to enable any kind of cut through with audiences.  “GE Reports’ competition isn’t IBM or Boeing or Intel,” Kellner says, it’s really The Wall Street Journal. His mission is to break through the noise and distractions of cell phones, incessant notifications, media saturation. It’s not easy. “People don’t set aside 10 minutes each day to read branded content,” Kellner says. Bloomberg One of the key issues for many established companies is ‘how do you change culture?’ There is often a clear demarcation, with the majority of the management teams from Generation X and employees being Millennials. Yet it is important that the attitudes and tastes of the younger employees are communicated, not just to the management, but across the business and indeed reflected to the outside world. And this is an issue that content can help address. A really great example is the Diversity and Inclusion blog from Bloomberg. It is an inspired mixture of help and advice for employees from all backgrounds on how to increase workplace inclusivity. So, for example there are articles on the power of mentorship, LGBT+ inclusion in Asia and why a multigenerational workforce is a competitive advantage. The content is helpful and insightful but sometimes challenging too with calls to action to Bloomberg employees to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. It will be interesting to see if other larger enterprises adopt a similar approach. Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA   Read more The importance of retention metrics Nearly a month ago the long awaited GDPR legislation was finally enacted in Europe with the threat that brands who transgress it could face what some have suggested are astronomical fines. A month on and some of the noise about GDPR has abated, though marketers are still dealing with the fallout of the changes, which for some of them has been hugely disruptive. One ongoing discussion which has come to the fore in the wake of GDPR is around retention. Surely GDPR ought to be a wake up call to brands to nurture their relationships with their customers. In our recent trends mega article – which you can download here – Dan Linstead, Editorial Director, Branded Content, Immediate Media argued that brands must now not take the loyalty of customers for granted. Dan said “The 25th May GDPR implementation marks a watershed for content – for the first time (in theory) everyone receiving a content email from a brand or organisation actively wants to receive that communication. Email lists will be dramatically smaller, but of much higher quality. So for the rest of 2018, and into the future, the pressure is on to reward the loyalty of those who have opted in with better, more relevant content.” Couple this with the decline in social usage – which was outlined in this Reuters report earlier in the week – and it is obvious that for brands cutomer and fan retention, especially on owned media, is once again a very hot issue. The wrong metrics? When it comes to measurement though many of the metrics that companies obsess over when assessing their online interactions are often about engagement and sharing. I wonder if the balance is now going to be shift a little and that brands are going to give retention metrics much higher focus than in the past. When it comes to website traffic the key metric is, in my opinion, one of the less sexy ones – bounce rate. To remind you bounce rate is when a person comes to your site and then only stays on one page before leaving. For the past decade content marketers and media analysts have been coming up with ever more intelligent ways to combat low bounce rates with varying degrees of success. Ironically sometimes low bounce rates can be driven by attempts to hook the reader into further levels of content via interruptive messages, such as subscriptions or email pop ups. There is a theory too that high bounce rates highlight that a specific piece of content has done its job properly. For example, if a user is searching for specific term and the content completely answers that question then surely it has been some kind of success? Except of course the average searcher typically looks at many pages. Also beyond a click on page the brand may well have achieved very little out of their interaction with the reader. A high bounce rate is a sign that a website is almost certainly not working to its full potential and it is a metric that content marketers should have sleepless nights about. I have found that in the past content marketers often ignore the bad news of their high bounce rates and focus more on the good stuff – pages viewed per visit. Sure this is a very important metric too, but personally I think it is less useful to gauging the effectiveness of content than bounce rates. Pages per view averages can be skewed, very skewed. For some brands customers lingering for a long time on their web pages consuming lots of content is the ultimate goal. Some, but not all. Surely the key is not necessarily to focus on page views per visit but to look the number of page views per person (and more) that the company sees as their objective. This might, for example, only mean three clicks – two content pages and then responding to a call to action. So, in some instances pages per visit, if it isn’t being tracked against KPIs that the brand has set, can be a largely redundant metric. The other less sexy retention metric which brands ought to be paying a lot more attention to is returning visitors. For too long  some brands have focused on the new and shiny and prioritised attracting new customers to their websites, often at the expense of growing relationships with existing customers and fans. For many companies returning visitors needs to be a key metric, as it underlines what a person actually wants from a brand. It shows that the relationship isn’t completely transactional and that there is some degree of loyalty. Personally I think that for most brands returning visitors is an absolutely key metric to focus on and tease apart. Fortunately we live in age of machine learning where there are already many programmes which will help companies to analyse this data and see how they can optimise their output to improve on it. The last thing worth saying about retention metrics is that they are really only useful if brands are prepared to act on them. Sure new business is important, but nurturing customers and fans has become crucial now. These are metrics which speak volumes about your brand and its content marketing approach – perhaps more than some of the other metrics you use. Marketers need to both look and act. The CMA is hosting a Digital Breakfast on content effectiveness and measurement in July. For more details go here. Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA Read more 5 steps to communicating your purpose How do you feel about same-sex marriage, climate change, or immigration? Companies have traditionally been wary of taking a position on such social and political issues. But things are changing now. Gone are the days when customers only bought what you were selling. Now, they’re buying what you believe in. Spoon’s Olle Lindholm explores what this means in the world of content marketing. Last week, Caitriona O’Connor, Global Social Media Manager at Skanska, spoke about the importance of purpose-driven storytelling. She challenged traditional views on business, encouraging companies to take position in matters that affect employees, customers, and the business as a whole. And the research backs it up. A recent Global Strategy Group study shows that 81 percent of Americans believe that corporations should take action to address important issues facing society. 88 percent believe corporations have the power to influence social change. Furthermore, 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that 75 percent of people believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profit and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates. But this era of activism poses new challenges for brands. With the recent missteps of Pepsi and Uber, it’s understandable why many brands stay quiet. Besides, trust in businesses is at an all-time low. To guide your efforts, here are five steps to communicating your purpose. They draw on Caitriona O’Connor’s insights, which she shared during last week’s breakfast seminar. 1. Know your audience Success comes from knowing your audience well. Where is the sweet spot between what your business stands for and what your customers care about? The issues must be relevant to both the business and the customers. Take Patagonia as an example. They have stood up for environmental causes since the company was formed. So when Donald Trump threatened to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah last year, the company released a campaign to defend public land. Customers welcomed Patagonia’s response. Patagonia’s position on the environment works because the company has been relevant and consistent with their messaging for the past 30 years. The audience knows what to expect from them. 2. Keep it real The purpose has to be anchored in the organisation, and expressed by those who work there. It’s the people who bring the mission to life. Portray the real-life work of your employees. Have the courage to stay radically transparent and be consistent with your values. Sure, this may indeed expose more cases of bad behaviour, but at least it will show you areas of improvement. Taking a stand on an issue must lead to action in the real world, an actual difference that can be felt, seen, and heard. Simple lip-service and cosmetic campaigns won’t work in the long-run. Your audience will see right through it. Instead, tell stories from the real world. They are more credible and powerful. 3. Move from what to why Most companies are good at communicating what they do, but few brands successfully communicate why they do it. The problem with ‘what’ is obvious. The competition is fierce and there are many brands offering similar products and services. Why you do it helps to differentiate your brand. It can be a certain philosophy or a unique approach that separates you from the rest. Further, it’s more difficult to copy a company’s ‘why’. Brands are currently making a transformation from communicating their ‘what’ to communicating their purpose (see e.g. Skanska and Gant). Many successful brands already know that a well-articulated purpose helps to attract and retain talent, partners, investors and customers. How about you, are you moving from what to why? 4. Take position on issues of our time Whether you like it or not, companies are encouraged to take position on issues. Some do it well, others are still learning. As an antidote to the Pepsi ad, Heineken’s social-experiment-turned-TV-commercial “Worlds Apart” brings strangers together with completely opposing views on hot topics of today (i.e. transgender, climate change and feminism). They complete a series of DIY tasks, without knowing about the other person’s views. These opposing views are later revealed and the participants are asked to either discuss it over a beer or leave. See what happens: Unlike the Pepsi ad, Heineken didn’t position their product as the solution to these problems. What Heineken managed to do so successfully was to enable a discussion about these topics. Another important factor contributing to the success of the campaign was the production itself. The reality-TV vibe made the situation more relatable to viewers and added authenticity and credibility. 5. Make sure the evidence is there Purpose can get political and difficult to balance when your community is diverse. It’s easy to overcommunicate your cause, which is why there must be solid evidence for why the company decides to take a position on an issue. It needs to be relevant for the key audiences (see Step 1), and well-established in the organisation (see Step 2). As an example, Skanska took a position in the housing issue in Sweden. The difficulty of finding a place to stay prevents every fifth person in their job and student careers, a stance which is relevant to both Skanska and their stakeholders. Without any evidence to back up the position, the attempts become cosmetic and futile. We have a unique position as communicators. One of the things I take with me from Caitriona’s talk is the responsibility we have as communicators to shape the discourse. We’re in a unique position to affect conversations and influence people’s actions. Consumers demand more and buy based on shared beliefs. Marketers must thus have the courage to be radically transparent, consistent, and relevant. To clearly articulate and communicate the brand’s purpose. It’s a challenge, for sure. Are you up for it? Olle Lindholm, Marketing Project Manager, Spoon  Read more How brands are using humour to show personality and gain trust It’s all about trust. As consumers, we are losing trust in the brands we buy from. With the rise of fake news, post-truth, the recent Facebook data scandals and the brand safety issues surrounding YouTube, this is all hardly surprising. So, what is it that brands need to do to win back the trust of their target audience? Of the many answers to this question, one of the most important is personality. Brands attempting to show their personality through their content reveal more of who they are and what makes them tick – creating a more genuine and loyal relationship with their consumers. Central to all of this is the subject of humour. When done right, adding humour to content can be the best way to reveal personality. However, as we all know, there is a fine line between being funny and head-in-hands cringe. If you’re not careful, humour can backfire terribly risking the ridicule of your social audience and an image that’s hard to shake off. So, how are brands using humour? Here’s a list of some of our favourite brands that are doing it well (and some that aren’t…) 1) New Zealand Tourist Board Famous for their self-deprecating sense of humour, this piece from the NZ tourist board is a great example of fun, engaging content. Showing that even their own Prime Minister has a sense of humour, this film sees a local private detective attempting to work out why New Zealand is disappearing from the world’s maps. 2) Hostelworld Widely applauded, the series of films from Hostelworld sees celebrities ‘slum it’ by staying in an American hostel, usually frequented by students and travellers. In this case, famously troublesome guest and super-celebrity Mariah Carey is pleasantly surprised by what she finds when her team mistakenly book her in to the wrong hotel. 3) SodaStream Along similar lines to the Dollar Shave Club factory walk-through, this is certainly one of the better recruitment films we’ve seen over the years. With a large helping of self-deprecating humour throughout, SodaStream definitely ensures we get to know the people and the brand as we are warmly welcomed to join the team. 4) Volvo An oldie but goodie. ‘The Epic Split’ features a fantastic pairing of the Swedish Volvo brand with the cool and composed Belgian, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Held up as one of the great executions of the last 10 years, Volvo creates a masterpiece that you just have to crack a smile at.  (The ‘making-of’ film is also well worth seeking out.) Note: the important role that music plays here to complement the film and enhance the ambience. 5) Yoti And finally, we’ve included this one as an example of how even serious issues can be dealt with cleverly using humour. The element of humour (here used to illustrate how easily someone can adopt a fake identity) is used to draw the audience into a difficult, yet important subject, and gently provide the shock needed to encourage the audience to take the issue seriously. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Of course, it’s not all good. It would be remiss of us to publish an article on humour without adding the very strong caveat that, with humour, things can also go very wrong. Humour is a very subjective thing that will touch the funny bones of some, but not of others. So, a word of warning, be careful how you use humour and be sure to test your idea out on as large a sample pool as you can before pressing the big, red ‘Live’ button. Here’s a couple of examples we feel simply miss the mark, but we’d love to hear what you think, or if you live in the countries these ads were aimed at, where the reception might have been very different from the one we’re giving them over here! 6) POM (USA) 7) Pizza Hut (Singapore)  Nick Hajdu, Co-Founder, Navigate Video Read more Content Creation for Beginners Marketers know content creation offers a wealth of benefits – for attracting audiences, developing a brand, increasing sales and standing out in the busy and ever-evolving internet. But as the demand for content grows, it’s important to know how to create useful assets that will prove valuable to your business or organisation. Our next webinar in June will walk you through the best practice examples of the content we create at Southerly, and by the end of the session, you’ll learn: Why content is more important than ever before Content creation challenges Content planning and researching ideas How to approach a new piece of content The session is pre-recorded, so sign up here to receive it directly to your inbox on Wednesday 27th June. Read more TCO launch The Mighty-Mighty, a new breed of outdoor and action sports agency The Mighty-Mighty’s launch clients include Telefonica/O2 and Nike across their Skateboard, Energy and Basketball categories. Phil Young will lead the agency, which will focus on delivering premium storytelling and events outside of more traditional sports categories. Phil has built a formidable reputation for delivering authentic content, events and marketing activations after establishing himself in the action sports scene as a lifestyle and sports presenter for Channel 4 and as a magazine columnist. He comes to TCO after three years as creative lead at Factory Media, where he developed the Selfridges skatepark with HTC, campaigns for Ford, Mini, Volvo and Nikon, alongside international activations and global launches for Nike. “TCO is one the most creative voices in youth and alternative culture,” Phil says. “The opportunity to join the team with The Mighty-Mighty and bring my action and outdoor experience to the business allows us to further deliver exciting brand storytelling to a content-driven audience. As our name implies, at The Mighty-Mighty we’re not afraid to reach for the sky and offer alternative takes on brand stories and activations.” TCO Co-Founder and Publisher Vince Medeiros adds: “Phil and I go way back. We have a shared history in action sports, and have always said we should work together some day. Well, that day has come. I’m beyond stoked to be able to marry TCO’s premium creative and execution with Phil’s talent, experience and unmatched credibility across actions sports and outdoor culture.” Q&A with Phil Young //Mighty Mighty – Why Now?// //Filmmaker and snowboarding pioneer Phil Young explains why 2018 is the perfect time to launch Mighty Mighty, his new action sports agency.// What is the opportunity for marketeers who want to get involved? The average age of someone who watches football on Sky Sports is 43 years old, and it is getting older every year. ‘Alternative’ or action sports offer a much younger and emotionally connected demographic to marketers.  Through Mighty Mighty we give an alternative view for marketers who want to do something different and more engaging targeting an often misunderstood audience. This is a space that offers huge potential to break new ground. Snowboarding is the most watched sport at the Winter Olympics, and the most anticipated new sports coming into the next sSummer Olympics are Skateboarding and Surfing. Why? Because not only are they truly exciting, but we know that with them comes a sense of freedom that oozes with cool and sticks up two fingers to the world. Who doesn’t want that? Lots of marketers talk about ‘authenticity’ as a key tool for engaging younger consumers. Do you see that as being a driver in people working with Mighty Mighty? Action sports have spent the last 40 years developing and maturing, and what we’ve seen is that these sports often don’t inherently have any rules. The only rule is actually authenticity. The sports themselves are by their very nature freestyle and creative. They are platforms for self-expression and creative exploration, not just in how they are performed but how their respective cultures resonate through street style and attitude. So if a brand can ensure authenticity by working with the right partner, they have an opportunity to do something fresh, new and exciting.  Marketeers may not be so easily connected to this world. How are you going to overcome that, and how do you see action sports fans behaving differently from a mainstream football audience? One of the key priorities for launching Mighty Mighty is to offer brands a credible connection to alternative sports, which we believe offer much higher engagement than traditional sports. If you’re watching a game of football, you are passive; you have an emotional ride but it is totally outside of your control. With surfing, skateboarding, bikes, snowboarding and the like, most fans are also participants. If they don’t land a trick or it doesn’t’ ‘click’ that day, they have a bad day.  They are solely in charge of the actions and of the emotions they generate. Ride smoother, link tricks, learn something new and they win. The rewards from action sports are immediate. Our audience are participants; they take the knocks; they have the highs and lows and they come back for more. Their emotional investment is far greater and so is their desire to connect with and see others get those highs and live vicariously through them. Read more The future of sports marketing Sports marketing is in something of a transitional period. The shift to social and digital is ongoing, but the evolution has thrown up as many questions as it has answers. Significant changes in American sports are sure to impact on marketers in Europe, while at the same time new technologies like Augmented Reality might soon create amazing new immersive opportunities for brands. Keeping on top of it all is tricky. Fortunately the CMA has a Sporting special Digital Breakfast on Wednesday 16th May. Here we invited the speakers, plus other significant commentators on the intersection of sports and marketing, to offer their views as to how they see their role developing in the coming months and years. The four participants are Jim Dowling, MD of Cake (an agency owned by the Havas Group which has a heritage in sports marketing), Andrew Ko, CEO & Cofounder @Personalyze (a data analytics company that has worked with some big sporting names), Chris Gratton Head of Sports and Entertainment at FleishmanHillard Fishburn (an agency that boasts many sports clients) and Ivan Lazarov, Group Head of Sales at Bridge Studio, the creative content team at News UK. What do you think has been the biggest change in sports content marketing in recent years? Jim Dowling, MD of Cake  – Ultimately, that younger audiences appear not to have the patience to watch live, televised sport. The average age of a live televised football watcher is over forty years old, and gets older by a year, each year. In addition, there appears a greater intolerance of ‘official’ media commentators and punditry. Fan generated content, through channels like Arsenal Fan TV, or alternative opinion or content through the likes of Copa 90 is breathing new life into football culture; which other sports will ape, follow or take inspiration from. Andrew Ko, CEO & Co-Founder of Personalyze – I think the biggest change in sports content marketing is the shift in using more and more data to determine what to put out there. It’s not just about putting stuff out there blindly anymore, but really understanding your audience and posting content that really resonates with your intended fan base. Chris Gratton Head of Sports and Entertainment at FleishmanHillard Fishburn – The explosion of video as a centrepiece and absolute staple within sports content marketing and in particular deals done with rights holders has been a huge step change. For a long time the contractual rights granted to brands had been focused on pure media value, mainly for on-pitch exposure (mainly boards and backdrops) however there has been a recent shift with most brands now looking for digital rights and in particular those that allow them to tell an authentic, credible story via consistent and continuous high quality content output. Ivan Lazarov Group Head of Sales at Bridge Studio, the creative content team at News UK –  The idea of building communities to engage people first. We’ve been working hard to get writers commenting and conversing with subscribers beneath articles to build this idea that you are part of a club, which hopefully means they are less likely to churn. This is an idea that spreads to marketing as well. I was listening to a podcast a little while back about how NFL stores in the US are increasingly places you go for an experience, AR/VR areas where you play in a match, meet your heroes etc and they don’t try very hard to flog things to you, they just want you to fall in love with the NFL because then they have you buying things for life. What is the biggest challenge in reaching out to sports consumers on behalf of brands? Chris Gratton – Due to the drastic increase in quantity of content available to an individual generally and in the sports arena, it has become increasingly difficult for brands to cut through with their output. The challenge is that you are competing against so much noise, which in some cases has significant paid support, that to stand out you need to be authentic, credible and sometimes disruptive. Tapping into cultural trends whilst staying true to both the sport and your brand is very important and the thing that is increasingly lost within brand content output. There is often a lack of true value add or differentiation by many brands within the sports arena who forget about genuinely what the fan wants to see, hear and in many cases love. Ivan Lazarov – Being authentic to your audience and creating a unique piece of branded content that is as watchable as if it was non branded and is true to both brand and publisher values. Jim Dowling – The same as it’s always been. How is your brand going to improve the sports experience for the consumer in a relevant way? Andrew Ko – Again, the biggest change in sports content marketing also becomes its biggest challenge as well. And that is trying to truly understand the target audience and knowing what kind of content to put out that gets the highest engagement. Posting engaging content on social, particularly, has become an arms race to see who can. Are social platforms still important? Or should brands be building their own content portals? Ivan lazarov – Social platforms are still important but it is vital to move away from clickbait headlines and create content that is original and true to our own values and not copying formats from other brands and publishers. It is also vital to understand the role of each social platform and create content that is desirable to our audiences in the way the want to consume it. Facebook seem to make promoting Facebook groups rather than pages and are now rewarding content that creates the most discussion in its newsfeed to show you more engaging content and less clickbait. The other thing that we are finding from a content point of view is that we have to offer far more than the facts, even if people go to you because you are a trusted source. Even when it comes to exclusive news they are only exclusive for so long, our strategy for The Times is to offer analysis of what is going on and say to people “we’ll make you understand it.” So if we can we try to make that clear in what we put out on social – be that the words or increasingly graphics or gifs that shout “this is analysis”. Part of this is because the biggest challenge for most people – especially during a World Cup, say – is the sheer volume of content kicking around. You may have the best article ever but getting people to see it is difficult. We support content that we think will resonate hardest via paid promotions and we also push our writers to tweet out stories that we think can take off but we do it sparingly – the reason people engage more with them than the brand is because they are authentic/genuine in how they act and we wish to maintain that. Jim Dowling – Sport fans are a part of the human race, and like the majority, their content journey generally begins when they pick up their smartphone, and tap the requisite social media icon. It’s where it begins. Brands should concern themselves first and foremost, with the quality of content they produce. Channels come next. Andrew Ko – Social platforms are definitely still important as the customer-base has already been built up. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are mediums to 2+ billion eyeballs globally, ready to consume whatever content is shown to them. And the best part of social is that it’s digital and, thus, should be better equipped to track ROI versus traditional media like TV and billboards. I say “should” because it’s not quite there yet, but I believe it’ll get there within the next 5 years. Chris Gratton – The old adage of ‘fish where the fish are’ remains true, particularly for brands in sports where the fan is more than likely indifferent about your brand and extremely passionate about the sport. Therefore trying to move individuals into a brand platform to consume content about their sport feels unnatural, disingenuous and inauthentic. In addition, a brand content portal attempting to host a considerable amount of owned content needs both extremely high quality credible content, continuous output and a lot of money to drive traffic to establish itself on the map which is why many brands do not even attempt this approach. Most will leverage social as a hosting platform to allow cross pollination of content from authentic sports channels to their own platforms. Many also use established players in the space to host branded content on their behalf, both to tap into the existing audience but also the feel of authenticity you gain from partnering with a trusted fan platform or destination. How do you see technology changing sports marketing and content in the coming years? Andrew Ko – I believe technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality will help sports brands find new ways in engaging with their audience. It’ll bring a new level of interaction to fans that could probably only occur in the sports venue in the past. I know Sky Sports tried this with their 3D broadcasts of some Premier League games a while back, but imagine sitting at home using VR to fully immerse yourself in games as though you were right in the stadium! Then think of the potential of turning that into a personal marketing channel to that individual. I think it will be game-changing. Chris Gratton – Technology is integral in sport and has been for a number of years both on and off the different fields of play, however it has with everything had varying levels of success often in early and in some cases arguably too early adoption, something very relevant at present with conversations around VAR in the Premier League. The most exciting technological developments however are really going to come in for the fan and in particular in terms of how they consume the sport both in the stadium and at home. The connected stadium is being built for the future and you can look at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta as the pinnacle with the Premier League following close behind. The new build for Spurs is almost complete and Crystal Palace, Chelsea and others won’t be far behind as everyone looks to push the boundaries when it comes to incorporating tech to improve all areas of the experience. From a content point of view, VR and AR both broke onto the scene a few years ago within sport again with varying successes in different areas so it interesting to see how this affects the fan experience when someone truly cracks it. A couple of football clubs, namely Liverpool  and most recently Man United have used VR to give fans a behind the scenes experience that they will never receive (particularly for overseas fans who may never get to the stadium) which is where something like VR at present has great strength. The investment in sports is vast so it is natural for tech development to be high in the space. Jim Dowling – AR is one to watch. Apple are investing time and resource into the AR capabilities of their handsets, primarily to drive education-based applications. However, if used smartly and creatively, AR could make a lively difference to the viewing experience whether on the sofa or in the stadium. Ivan lazarov – Technology is constantly evolving allowing us to understanding our audiences better and interpret audience data to write compelling content.  A further evolution in tech is within voice. AR/VR is fun but can be very expensive. Voice on the other hand is pretty cheap and easy and with Wireless radio we can create content easily which can be tailored for platforms like Google and Alexa. Do you think we take our sports marketing cues from the USA? Or we are doing things in a British/European way? Jim Dowling – It depends on what the sport is. We can all learn from each other. The US market have often have led us in the use of technology. Stadia and smartphone experiences, for example, are ahead of much of Europe. That said, the depth of UK fan culture; beyond the results on the pitch are often the envy of US sports. Andrew Ko – I’m Canadian so I think I have an unbiased view of this question. I think it’s a hybrid path that we are taking here in the UK. Americans like things that are really “in-your-face”. However, I don’t think that kind of tactic resonates with the British/Europeans. I mean, there aren’t even replays of goals scored at Old Trafford on the big screens! I think elements of the flashy American-way have crept up into sports marketing in the UK over the past few years, but I don’t think it will fully switch over as that would turn off a lot of Brits. Chris Gratton – The traditional US sports experience is very different to the one we know however many rights holders and brands are taking cues from the USA, in particular with regards to the on-site fan experience. Pepsi for example, have attempted to replicate the Super Bowl model of halftime shows within UEFA Champions League, pulling big artists like Alicia Keys and The Black Eyed Peas to play and elevate both the sport and their brand exposure as a result. As mentioned previously, new stadium builds are certainly taking the USA lead in terms of how they enhance every touchpoint for a fan on matchday whilst driving revenue. There are nuances and very stark cultural differences regarding what drives a fan not only from US – Europe but within every country and therefore everything must be tailored locally in some way to ensure relevance, credibility and authenticity. Read more about the Digital Breakfast and book tickets here. Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA Read more CMA Member Exclusive Discount on VR & AR Training Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) 1 Day Training Masterclass London Fri 29th June Background to this workshop By 2021, the combined market size of augmented and virtual reality is expected to reach 215 billion U.S. dollars. All around us we are now seeing examples of where both VR and AR can reshape existing ways of doing things- buying a new home, educating children, interacting with a doctor or watching a concert with VR and the recent launches of Apple’s AR Kit and Google’s ARC Core proves the tech giants continued investment in Augmented Reality applications. Some commentators now believe in the next 18 months that AR has a higher potential for growth than its more higher profile VR cousin. What is certain is that both VR and AR advances and price points decline enable these immersive technologies to offer incredible almost limitless creative opportunities ranging from experiences based to live-action, replicating traditional storytelling and filmmaking, pioneering 360 content production computer-generated content for learning and education and much more. About this 1 Day Workshop: On this 1 day workshop you be will introduce attendees to the fundamental pillars and creative possibilities of virtual reality and augmented technology which are disrupting the entertainment, engineering, property and healthcare industries. Attendees will learn how to create and manage immersive technology environments, design 3D scenes and be taught the essential element of interactivity using Oculus Rift and Touch technology Who should attend This workshop is designed for marketing professionals, creatives, technologists, storytellers, writers and film producers, senior strategists and entrepreneurs who wish to fully understand the core principles and practical applications of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology Training Venue: Wework Southcentral The workshop will be held at Wework Southcentral, 33 Stamford St, South Bank, London SE1 9PY: What you will learn by attending this workshop The workshop will include the following modules Introduction to VR and AR – A brief history of VR and AR, – The titans of VR and AR explained; Oculus/Facebook, Samsung, Sony, Apple and Google. – The essential ingredients of presence (Tracking, FoV, peripherals, haptics, foveated rendering, locomotion, 3D audio etc) – The continued rise of MR and AR (Inside-out tracking, MS HoloLens (I will try and bring one) and why it is so important. Content and Distribution – VR, AR and 360 content distribution platforms – What content is working and what is not – The commercial landscape – Software development platforms – Introduction to social VR – Creative tools VR production process explained – 360 degree capture – 360 video formats – Editing 360 content – Capturing 360 sound and core principles of 360 production – How to make a simple webVR app – Group 360 photo tour project, from concept to delivery Use cases for immersive technology – How immersive is revolutionising multiple verticals, from healthcare, recruitment, productivity to training. – Integration of VR into existing workflows – Practical applications of ARKit and ARCore The Future of VR and AR – The new 180 degree format – Volumetric video capture and photogrammetry – Making a simple VR animation (each person will need their laptop) – Artificial intelligence, 5G and IOT – what these will mean for immersive – Q  and A About your Virtual Reality Workshop Trainer- Jonathan Tustain Jonathan Tustain has been fascinated and deeply involved in the virtual reality and AR industry all his life and has been immersed in the industry since 2012. He is founder of London’s largest VR meetup group, VR Developers Meetup and is well known in London VR circles, writing for founding mobile VR company Proteus and freefly VR and acts as a consultant for many companies and agencies seeking to test VR applications and speaks at regular VR events such as 2018 recent Future Tech Now VR in London He has written features and stories for (for example – The future of digital actors), How it Works magazine and Yahoo and shoots video reports from VR events such as VRLO. Testimonials: Below are some customer feedback from attendees who have attended our workshops in 2017/2018: “I wanted to say that I had an EXTREMELY useful day at the VR Workshop – it covered all of the questions I had and I took away a lot of ideas as my knowledge about VR was greatly enhanced after this day. What I loved the most was the demo and examples given, the opportunity to play around with the equipment and to see the endless VR possibilities within a day. The VR Workshop has broadened my perspectives and awaken my imagination. A HUGE THANK YOU to both of you for organizing and running this great workshop – it will certainly make a difference to my line of work”  In-house Digital Executive- Knight Frank ‘As a producer for a production company I found this course incredibly useful. I was specifically looking for a workshop that was really practical and would expand my knowledge of the production process, trends and how best to use VR creatively. This course certainly delivered on these requirements and has inspired me to go learn more about this space’ Production manage- leading Ad Agency in London “We really enjoyed this workshop.  Jonathan clearly had a huge wealth of knowledge of the VR industry and was able to cover a lot of the positive aspects and pitfalls of VR.  It was an very interesting journey through the history of VR and also the different types of virtual media that existed. In many respects, this has given us more confidence in identifying the type of virtual media that would benefit a training solution we could offer in our area of business. We’re greatly appreciative to Jonathan for bringing some clarification to this from the huge range of VR choices. We made many notes of websites and facts concerning AR, VR and mixed reality that were really useful. It was also great that Jonathan had an understanding of the different range of tools that we could use to get started on VR. Jonathan also gave us some good leads on future VR training events, some of which we’ve signed up to already.” Digital Services Producer, The Police Cost to attend £450 is our normal retail rate Special rate for CMA members! Let’s Learn Digital are offering CMA members a special rate of £400 to attend our next workshop To reserve your place booking here: To redeem this offer, CMA members will just need to enter a code at the checkout. To get the code, please email: Please contact us on or call direct on 07989 985922 if you have any questions on the above course. Read more Read More News Articles »
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