Wasn’t life easy in the old days? A few TV channels, a small number of radio stations and a selection of newspapers, meant that the battle for the attention of viewers, listeners and readers could be understood in simple terms.
Then came the internet! And with that has come the rise of the content and brands realising that the old rules of advertising are changing at a rapid pace. In those bygone days, setting down a media plan was straightforward, as was getting the ad agency to create the beautiful TV spot or billboard poster. But those old rules are gone and now a new battle has emerged – the battle for eyes and ears. For brands have realised that in order to reach consumers, old style advertising isn’t enough. Content has become part of the new marketing landscape. And that means marketing teams are having to figure out what content to make, where to put it and how to get audiences to engage with them.
Successful content creators have placed themselves at the heart of your content habit
But the landscape is complicated by the fact that the battle for eyes and ears is now seeing brands coming up against the big beasts of content, the people who understand how to engage and entertain an audience and keep them coming back time after time. I am of course talking about the companies who’ve been creating content for decades and understand it inside out – the broadcasters and publishers. For them, content is all they do. They are the masters of the content universe. For what the broadcasters and publishers such as the BBC, MBC, The Economist or Star TV have always understood is how to create products that people come back to day after day or week after week. They know how to create a habit in an audience and through the power of that habit build an ongoing relationship for their brands.
For the marketing world, the approach has often been the opposite. Create a campaign that gains a lot of attention in a short space of time, so as to build brand recognition and then repeat this campaign approach every now and then as a means of reminding consumers of the brand. Which might explain why for many marketing brands, there is a struggle to understand content and to identify the right agencies and partners to create that content with. Ad agencies are brilliant at creating 30 second spots or beautiful posters that communicate a marketing message succinctly and quickly. But the creation of content, on-going content, that repeats week after week, is a different skill, mindset and creative approach. It’s a mindset that few ad agencies have (even though they all have a “content team”). And part of that struggle is because they’ve failed to learn from the real experts of content – the broadcasters, publishers and production companies.
The resource is there, now the mindset needs to follow
That approach of being able to develop a habit with an audience is something that is still evolving (look at how Netflix’s “binge” approach has changed the game) but which is at the heart of successful content. On-going, repeatable online video series, podcasts, social media entertainment or TV shows are at the heart of successful content. Think about the radio show you tune into every day, or the last TV or podcast series you downloaded, or the website you visit every morning. Those content creators have placed themselves at the heart of your content habit. The challenge is now on for brands to learn from this behaviour and do the same.
Brands too, have the potential to be masters of content. The marketing budget of Pepsi far outstrips the programme commissioning budget of most TV networks. So the resource is there, now the mindset needs to follow. The mindset that aims to place the brand within a consumers content habit. Which means learning from the experts – the broadcasters and publishers, and using the agencies and production companies who are already excelling in these spaces.
For audiences, there need be no distinction whether great sports related content comes from Nike or BeIN – the challenge for the Nikes of this world is that the measure of success needs to be not how many people have downloaded their latest video, but how many will download the next one, and the next one after that.
Only when brands finally succeed at repeatable, returning content can they truly say that they’ve learnt from the broadcaster masters and understood the rules of content.
Article written by Steve Ackerman, MD, Somethin’ Else for the World Media Awards. Find out more about the awards here.