‘You create great content, and they’ll love you. You offer an ad message, and they’ll switch off’. – The Drum
What have we learned about Content in 2016?
Well, it’s still the saving grace of marketing right now, ever since it was hailed as King back in 2015. But Content is not the same beast as it was last year. Or at least, it doesn’t come with the same motives.
The most important aspect of a great content campaign is our ability to analyse and implement real findings on consumers to improve their experiences. Keep them hooked and the stream of valuable consumer insight will keep flowing in. What works and doesn’t work is wholly as a result of the algorithms and behaviours of your consumers data. From this, you can complement their online experiences by feeding more and more of what they like and altering the stuff that they aren’t responding to. A good example of this is streaming service Netflix, who operate their findings from what consumers watch, and then what they follow it up with. In comes recommendations, targeted promotions and more; advertising to consumers without it feeling like advertising.
And you can imagine the fountain of knowledge a great content creator like Snapchat is in command of. From locations, most tuned in content and even buzzwords from captions, it creates an interesting profile of its users’ entertainment preferences. Of course, Snapchat has the bulk of their solid content created externally, but that makes it ever easier to plan home-grown creative like, say, the selfie skins. Somewhat revolutionarily (and ironically) millions of people are choosing to layer dog features over their own. Snapchat knew they would. We can only assume why.
It is arguable that data profiling and planning has led to good story driven content like Always’ ‘Like a Girl’ campaign too. Social experiment content is currently at its nexus; having gone through a series of jaw dropping (and sometimes obnoxious) video uploads that leave the consumer with a hypothetical moral wallop and - Oh, by the way, we’re selling you trainers. And that’s how content has become myopic in its need to serve social credibility to the brand.
Walking (the right side of) the Line
Johnnie Walker, however, has released a socially conscious video series on the islanders of Lesvos in their courageous efforts to save drowning refugees. Fishermen, old ladies, a haunting image of lifesavers stacked up like a wall, and only at the very last minute do you see the famous Walking Man. Barely the maple tint of the content gives way that a whiskey brand is talking to you. And as a member of their demographic (we’re going first person for a moment), I found it hard to understand why they’d create a campaign like this. Like everyone else I agree with the core message but it didn’t feel like a branded advert (like the Gentlemen’s Wager campaign before it). But it also managed to stay stuck in my head for over a week. Their brand association is honourable and it makes me happy (as an occasional consumer) to be associated with their product and brand values. It isn’t insight into consumers that drive this content; it is insight into present context gathered from a variety of channels. It’s what’s in to talk about - for want of a better explanation. This is where 2016 has triumphed over its more naïve predecessor: giving brands a solid cultural relevance to implement into their content. We’re not only measuring what consumers like; now we know how they feel. We’re finding more and more human context to our numbers.
It’s a surprise the Presidential campaign and ourd social media woes haven’t appeared yet.