The future of content marketing and its ability to fulfil its potential or merely survive in 2015 will be shaped by how brands deal with the saturation of content.
There is a much-overused and damaging phrase in the content marketers’ lexicon at the moment - ‘always-on content’ – which is exacerbating this saturation issue.
Whilst content does allow brands to have a presence that extends beyond the length of a campaign’s normal media spend, it should never be created with ‘always-on’ as the primary rationale.
We need to be encouraging our clients to approach content through the lens of ‘always-relevant’.
But with the saturation issue only getting worse (over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!), brands will have to focus on three key areas to help combat this: creative, distribution and technology. None of these elements are more important than the other; they are intrinsically linked.
It’s an obvious one: if your content is good, people will consume it, and if it’s really good they may even share it. Good content should be what people are interested in, not interrupting what people are interested in. The perceived need that brands should be ‘always-on’ coupled with the desire to be reactive and as real-time as possible, means that sometimes creative quality goes by the wayside, when it shouldn’t. Never compromise on the quality; if you don’t have the time or resources to maintain the quality consumers expect from your brand, then be creative in what is achievable. As the content market matures in 2015 I personally would like to see brands put the same money and resources behind the creation of content as they do for above the line advertising. Some brands already do this but I think we will begin to see more doing so in the future.
Be creative in the application of your distribution strategy too. Content is nothing without distribution, so your distribution strategy is as important as the content itself. The right content delivered to the consumer at the right time and in the right context is a hugely important weapon to combat the saturation. Data is the bedrock of good distribution and taking the time to understand where your consumers are, what they are doing and what device they are using, will mean that you can be more creatively and contextually relevant than ever before. 2015 will see content distribution becoming more sophisticated as technology allows us to access more data and innovations in distribution platforms and methods – we need to be ready to utilise them to our advantage next year.
This is an area that probably holds the most opportunity for the future of content next year. Just look how far mobile phone technology has come in a relatively short space of time; the smartphone is probably the single most important content consumption device that exists. If we look at wearables as an example, it is likely that they will follow the same path. Right now it’s hard to see the opportunities but their usefulness will evolve quickly and they will become as important as the smartphone is now. Marketers will need to evolve their content capabilities to stay abreast of this, as the way we interact with our different devices (for example, through speech or movement) will affect the content we create in the future. Additionally, technology will give us more access to, and better quality of, behavioral data. This in turn will be fed back into the creative and distribution processes, further accentuating the relevance of the content delivered to the consumer.
What binds all of these three elements together is innovation; it’s important that marketers are innovative in the way creativity is applied in conjunction with innovations in distribution methods (driven by data) and the evolution of technology.
We live in an increasingly connected and convergent world and the future of content marketing will be defined by how brands anticipate, flex and adapt to the evolution of every factor that affects creation, distribution and consumption of content. This is not something to be scared about; on the contrary, it’s a massive opportunity in 2015 because if harnessed correctly, content becomes the currency of the convergent world and will help brands connect in culture. When a brand transcends the category and extends its cultural presence, true impact occurs.