How can your content stand out?

November 13th, 2017

There is now so much content being generated by publishers, brands and consumers that getting your work to stand out is becoming increasingly difficult.

How you achieve excellence and virality for branded content was the key topic of the digital breakfast held in the first week of November.

The first of the four presenters was Stefano Marrone, Managing Director, Nucco Brain. Stefano runs the visual storytelling studio working in the VR, animation, illustration, visual development and motion graphics field, creating high-quality cross-media content for brands and agencies alike.

He kicked off by asking the question “how do we get our audience to binge watch branded content?” In other words, how do we do get them to watch branded content in the way that they would watch Netflix?

Stefano explained that his company, which works mainly with B2B and corporate clients, sees the competition for his content as not just from rival companies, but as the entire media landscape. He argued that content “needs to be attention grabbing, as appealing as a Netflix show.”

Stefano then showed how people digest information which he likened to a sales funnel. He stressed the importance of a hook for the content, but lamented that some clients want to move the fine print to the top of the funnel. He believes that the most important thing is how to generate the hook and the level of awareness.

Stefano also believes that one of the enemies of content creation is insistence on perfection. He said this often leads to a campaign panic mentality. Rather content should be created in a sustained and ongoing way.

He highlighted that the key conflict in content creation is “budget vs quality of good content,” arguing that we need to learn from the old school with a format for each target audience/segment.

For Innovate UK the company created a series of strands targeted at different segments, with different level of quality and pacing. They also undertook an optimised production approach – asking ‘how can we squeeze as much content as possible from this?’ Stefano exhorted the audience to think about platforms, keeping in mind all the possible uses of content that they can do.

Creating digital scarcity

The second presenter was Seth Jackson, CEO, Landmark, a location-based experiences platform – the Pokémon GO for branded content is how the company describes it – powering branded, global campaigns for companies including Sony Music, Showtime Networks and CeX.

Seth took as the theme for his presentation – kinetic currency and creating digital scarcity.

Seth began by arguing that 2017 has been a year that has been characterised by movement in the currency markets. From the emergence of Bitcoin, through to the dollar jumping up and down like a yoyo and the Euro and pound volatility.

Another currency is kinetic currency, which Seth describes as physical movement in return for a reward. To illustrate this he talked about a Stormzy gig his daughter recently attended. Her kinetic currency included sharing that she was going to the gig on channels like Whatsapp, as well as actually walking to the show.

Seth added the kinetic currency was not a new concept either, adding that stores have used it and it is common in festivals too.

He then began to discuss the issues around experiential content acknowledging that “experiential doesn’t ‘scale, yet digital can scale beautifully, but it has no scarcity.”

He argued that if we can create digital scarcity people will care.  So can it add value in tandem with kinetic currency? Seth believes that a year ago people would have said no. Then Pokemon Go came along, which proved that you can get people move from physical content to an experience.

Seth explained that a massive opportunity for brands in the future is that people are doing things to actively participate in a digital experience.

He cited Nike Snkrs as being a recent example of how his concept works. With Snkrs people want to have the limited edition shoe. To facilitate this Nike created virtual Snkrs in digital locations – people turn up and open up their phone in that location and then buy the shoe.

Seth explained that Landmark wanted to explore idea of a playground for marketers with concepts of digital scarcity and kinetic currency. They wanted it to be a web based platform incorporating AR.  The platform, which can be white labeled, allowed brands to place digital content in the real world in real time.  He argued that if you “create a level of scarcity you see interesting results.”

To illustrate this Seth cited a concept that was developed for Homeland Surveillance Mission – which turned the streets of NYC into an interactive walking tour. People engaged with the content as they walked around the city.

In other words if consumers have delivered their kinetic currency they get a reward – something worthwhile. Another example was for the singer Shakira. Content was placed in different hot spots. Different tracks were hidden in different places – and it was only when the content was found the tracks were added online. Seth explained how fans worked together to discover this content and deliver it to the rest of the world.

Seth finished by asking – can scarcity work? He said he thinks it can, but there needs to be a lot of experimentation first.

Harnessing AI in branded content

The third speaker was Alex Vaidya, CEO & Co-Founder, StoryStream, a content marketing platform helping global brands to deliver the content most likely to engage and convert customers across every digital channel.

Alex began by explaining how StoryStream is a content marketing platform powered by Artificial intelligence (AI), and is an innovation in how people will work with content and data. Alex described AI as the latest evolution in tech to help humans communicate.

He then ran through how technology had helped people communicate in the past; from cave painting through to the mobile phone. He pointed out that we live in an age of information overload and that 90% of data has been created in last two years. “We have reached the content crunch, what do we do?” he asked.

“Those who adopt new innovations first have competitive advantage,” stressed Alex. “We are awash with data but not using it –AI is the new era of human communication.” Alex added that AI will help humans process data and help us to make decisions about its conclusions.

Alex then highlighted four areas that brands can use AI in content marketing

1 Visual recognition – looking at sets of images and then making predictions about future ones. A key area is visual search.

2 Language – natural language processing-  understanding the context of text and language, for example chatbots. Alex added that this was an example of the way AI can give humans more capacity.

3 Decision making – making recommendations as to how people use the platform. For example, videos you like on Netflix.

4 Data analytics – looking at the data such as web traffic etc and spotting trends.

“Data is like oil. AI helps you find the good stuff,” argued Alex.

“AI needs to be part of a brand’s marketing armoury. AI can’t do imagination – it frees up time, so we can focused on creative part – storytelling

Alex then ran through a use case of how brands can use AI to solve interesting problems – unlocking social data

He explained that for humans alone this was a non-starter as, for example, it would take 11 years of work to analyse 110,000 pieces of  content. Using AI it is possible to identify trends in the content quickly and easily.

To illustrate this Alex spoke of social tribes and of a certain type of owner of Mini cars. These are women between 20-25 who own Minis and take images of the car’s key with their manicured nails. AI image recognition can be used note and identify this tribe.

As Alex said “the audience create the tribe themselves, once you know the tribe, you know where they are and what content they engage with etc. You are able to build a sophisticated profile of your tribe. You can aggregate the content around the brand and then apply AI and tag it, and you can group content together.”

The power of audio

The last speaker of the day was Clare Chadburn, Head of Development, Wisebuddah – who focused on how brands can engage through audio

Clare ran through a series of slides which highlighted how audio can engage with consumers in a unique way.

Her first case study was the creation of a radio station called Last Pirate FM on behalf of a group of charities who want to encourage people to leave them money in their will.

Clare explained that her company was presented with two challenges. Firstly to bring together the voices of 183 charities, and secondly to connect with a certain audience of people who grew up in the 60s who listened to pirate radio.

WiseBuddah created a narrative around an original pirate radio DJ from the 60s – Emperor Rosko – and billed him as the last pirate on his final stint. DAB licences were created in five areas and the content was available via Mixcloud, 24 hours 7 days a week.

The campaign was very successful in creating both a noise and a legacy for the charities.

Clare also cited the success of podcasting pointing out that in terms of engagement and attention it is the opposite end of the scale of the goldfish spectrum. She cited recent research that showed podcast listeners to be within the ages of 25-44 and many listened to podcasts for more than two hours per day.

She highlighted how podcasts such as This American Life, Serial and others were successful because of their informal, relaxed style and the way that they enabled people to share the type of stories that they might not share on traditional radio formats. She featured a snippet from Attitude Heroes, a podcast series from Attitude magazine which  celebrated the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. The podcast was created in conjunction with car brand Jaguar.

Clare explained how savvy brands are now starting to create podcasts citing Virgin, Mr Porter and Microsoft as being examples of companies who have created successful and engaging podcasts.

Clare finished by stressing the reasons for creating audio content. These include:

  • Tell a different story
  • Generate shareable content
  • Humanise your brand
  • Gain a new audience and consumers
  • Be authentic
  • Offer thought leadership
  • Create a community
  • Whilst keeping production costs low

She finished by pointing to the future and the growth of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and how these might create new demand for audio content.

Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA

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