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Content Marketing’s Age of Enlightenment

Content Marketing’s Age of Enlightenment

David Benady

David Benady

March 2, 2018

Journalist David Benady looks at some of the innovations driving content marketing forward.

From Red Bull to Lego and from GE to GoPro, brands are forsaking overt sales messages in favor of persuasion through creative leadership. Content marketing has grown into one of the great marketing trends of the decade, as each brand seeks to build a distinctive personality in the congested online world. But social media and search marketing have become crowded environments, where it’s hard to stand out and even harder to achieve results. There’s so much content that is bland, uninspiring, and too similar. Today, many question the purpose and success of content marketing, which is entering what Gartner describes as the “Trough of Disillusionment”.

So how can brands climb out of the trough and take their online presence to the next level? Content needs to be extraordinary to leap out and grab attention. Anything that is simply “good enough” will be consigned to the dustbin. To get ahead in content marketing, creatives need to keep abreast of the latest edgy, experimental tools to help connect consumers with brand messages.

Let’s look at some of the innovations that are driving content marketing forward.

"The digital environment is blurring the line between advertising and content."

Micro-influencer platforms are replacing celebrity endorsements

Social media is buzzing with talk of Instagram micro-influencers, as brands look to forge partnerships with social players who have under 100,000 followers—and more likely under 30,000—rather with than the biggest celebrities, who have millions. Automated, app-based influencer platforms such as TapFusion, FameBit, and TRIBE allow marketers to hook up with social influencers and commission them to create campaigns.  Brands such as adidas and Sony, and companies including Unilever and Moët Hennessy, have created micro-influencer campaigns with these platforms. This marketplace approach is bringing down the costs of influencer campaigns and allowing brands to target ever-more specific.

Augmented reality will augment advertising

Another hopeful area for content marketing lies in augmented reality. This took off last year with the launch of Apple’s ARKit developer tool, fueling futuristic content marketing strategies such as the IKEA Place app. Open the app on your smartphone, use the camera to scan any room, select a piece of furniture from the IKEA, list and see how it will look wherever you place it.

Amazon AR View also allows users to visualize products in situ. Imagine if this takes off and you get a call from Amazon saying they want to feature your product in AR View next week, so please send over the 3D-ready images. Brands will need to have their products shot in 3D, and their ad agencies are creating libraries of these images so if the AR moment arrives and that call comes, they will be ready.

Meanwhile, hyper-personalization is coming to content marketing with developments such as YouTube’s Director Mix, which allows brands to create thousands of tailored pieces of content by uploading one set of creative.

“Transcreation” goes global

For the global market, “Transcreation” is the new buzzword. That means going further than simply translating global brand content into different languages for each country, by allowing each local marketing operation to recreate the content to chime with their culture.

This avoids embarrassing mess-ups such as “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” being translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” It also allows content marketers to be more locally relevant.

This is all progress away from one-size-fits-all marketing, and toward to a more personalized and relevant form of connection.

The digital environment is blurring the line between advertising and content. To find the formula for success, the ad industry needs to engage in constant experimentation with new channels and platforms. This will pay off when brands get it right—for successful examples, look at Snapchat Stories and one of the imitators it has spawned, such as Instagram Stories, which has featured campaigns from the likes of Airbnb and ASOS.

Content marketing’s trough of disillusionment will soon be followed by a slope of enlightenment, which is what we seem to be ascending to.

From Red Bull to Lego and from GE to GoPro, brands are forsaking overt sales messages in favor of persuasion through creative leadership. Content marketing has grown into one of the great marketing trends of the decade, as each brand seeks to build a distinctive personality in the congested online world. But social media and search marketing have become crowded environments, where it’s hard to stand out and even harder to achieve results. There’s so much content that is bland, uninspiring, and too similar. Today, many question the purpose and success of content marketing, which is entering what Gartner describes as the “Trough of Disillusionment”.

So how can brands climb out of the trough and take their online presence to the next level? Content needs to be extraordinary to leap out and grab attention. Anything that is simply “good enough” will be consigned to the dustbin. To get ahead in content marketing, creatives need to keep abreast of the latest edgy, experimental tools to help connect consumers with brand messages.

Let’s look at some of the innovations that are driving content marketing forward.

"The digital environment is blurring the line between advertising and content."

Micro-influencer platforms are replacing celebrity endorsements

Social media is buzzing with talk of Instagram micro-influencers, as brands look to forge partnerships with social players who have under 100,000 followers—and more likely under 30,000—rather with than the biggest celebrities, who have millions. Automated, app-based influencer platforms such as TapFusion, FameBit, and TRIBE allow marketers to hook up with social influencers and commission them to create campaigns.  Brands such as adidas and Sony, and companies including Unilever and Moët Hennessy, have created micro-influencer campaigns with these platforms. This marketplace approach is bringing down the costs of influencer campaigns and allowing brands to target ever-more specific.

Augmented reality will augment advertising

Another hopeful area for content marketing lies in augmented reality. This took off last year with the launch of Apple’s ARKit developer tool, fueling futuristic content marketing strategies such as the IKEA Place app. Open the app on your smartphone, use the camera to scan any room, select a piece of furniture from the IKEA, list and see how it will look wherever you place it.

Amazon AR View also allows users to visualize products in situ. Imagine if this takes off and you get a call from Amazon saying they want to feature your product in AR View next week, so please send over the 3D-ready images. Brands will need to have their products shot in 3D, and their ad agencies are creating libraries of these images so if the AR moment arrives and that call comes, they will be ready.

Meanwhile, hyper-personalization is coming to content marketing with developments such as YouTube’s Director Mix, which allows brands to create thousands of tailored pieces of content by uploading one set of creative.

“Transcreation” goes global

For the global market, “Transcreation” is the new buzzword. That means going further than simply translating global brand content into different languages for each country, by allowing each local marketing operation to recreate the content to chime with their culture.

This avoids embarrassing mess-ups such as “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” being translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” It also allows content marketers to be more locally relevant.

This is all progress away from one-size-fits-all marketing, and toward to a more personalized and relevant form of connection.

The digital environment is blurring the line between advertising and content. To find the formula for success, the ad industry needs to engage in constant experimentation with new channels and platforms. This will pay off when brands get it right—for successful examples, look at Snapchat Stories and one of the imitators it has spawned, such as Instagram Stories, which has featured campaigns from the likes of Airbnb and ASOS.

Content marketing’s trough of disillusionment will soon be followed by a slope of enlightenment, which is what we seem to be ascending to.

David Benady is a freelance journalist working in London. He specializes in technology, media and advertising.

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