When you consider that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish (an average eight seconds spent on digital content), that’s a challenge for anyone who has an important story to tell. Throw in the current issues around fake news, brand safety and ad fraud, it’s hardly surprising that brands are turning to trusted, quality content to get their message across.
There is both a consumer and business case. Users put their trust in content: 85% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic search results*. Meanwhile, content marketing has six times the power of traditional marketing for converting people into leads and leads into customers**.
For Festival of Media Global 2018 panellist Dominic Chambers, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Jaguar Land Rover, content marketing is the most exciting place to be within communications: “As a brand owner, our number one role is to protect the reputation of our brands. The environment [ads are placed in] and context is more important than we had recognised in the last five years. I think brands had allowed their advertising to appear in places they shouldn’t have been. Now we are migrating to quality and want to be associated with premium publishers and ensure that our content is seen in a place that is trusted.”
As we look specifically at shortlisted entries in the ‘Best Campaign led by Content’ category for the M&M Global Awards 2018, it’s clear that working with premium and trusted partners is something of a given when it comes to creating content. From National Geographic to the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times and the Guardian, work in this category has centred on partnerships that cover multiple platforms – both online and offline. Influencers also played an important role in most campaigns.
The category includes a vast spread of ad sectors from tourism, travel & leisure to FMCG, entertainment and technology, and geographically the reach is global. But one word that was repeated in at least half of the entries was ‘culture’, suggesting that brands are using content to tap into cultures, including music and fashion.
While all entries had a strong focus on digital, social and video content, we can’t ignore TV, print and OOH which all had a part to play in the content distribution plan.
Fellow Festival of Media Global 2018 panellist Rhian Mason, Content Strategy Director for IPG Mediabrands, said: “For me it’s all about the power of the planning process. It’s about driving trust through multiple interactions, so creating this seamless user experience where we are trying to move somebody from exposure to action. Content can help us do that, but you’ve got to be there at the right place at the right time with the right message. That’s where we find the value when we think about content and using content to drive trust for our brands. As the gatekeeper, really making sure that we’re thinking about all the right elements to make sure that our partners speak to that consumer journey.”
Another key thing to note was a notable shift in terms of KPIs when it comes to measuring the success of content campaigns with a greater focus on engagement, brand impact, effectiveness, purchase intent and consideration.
Mazher Abidi, Head of Social Media at Initiative, and judge at this year’s M&M Global Awards, said: “I definitely saw a shift away from using media metrics to justify success in the best cases. The stories that stood out are no longer using things like impressions or views (essentially media results that can be bought) in favour of real world results and outcomes that influence change. I think this is a positive thing.”
Some of the best work we’ve seen had put content strategies at the heart of the campaign from the very beginning. Marketers are not just looking at digital as a promotional tool but actually getting people to engage with their brand through content. For any successful content marketing campaign, the key is to create content that puts the audience and their needs before the brand, and then execute it in new and exciting ways to achieve business objectives.
We put the spotlight on two M&M Global Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:
Connecting Cultures | Star Alliance | Wavemaker | Global
Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Content, Tourism, Travel & Leisure
In today’s experience economy, “elite status” comes from doing stuff far more than buying stuff. Against this backdrop, Star Alliance’s mission to fuel cultural connections should be more relevant than ever. People who have international experience or a more international cultural background are better problem solvers and display more creativity. As a result, they are more likely to create new businesses, products, or be promoted.
Star Alliance and Wavemaker set out to design an experiential, digital and social programme that didn’t just talk about connecting cultures but inspired new ones. The ambition was to highlight the scale and benefits of the Star Alliance network by celebrating the stories of its travellers and the connections and adventures they had made possible. It rewarded the best cultural insights by creating 20 ‘air miles millionaires’. At the centre of the ecosystem was a crowd sourced, global mapping tool, of the most amazing cultural experiences. Ensuring that future travellers have the inspiration and utility needed to have their next cultural experience with Star Alliance.
To spearhead the campaign, the agency developed a partnership with two global media powerhouses – National Geographic and Wall Street Journal – because of their strong credentials in premium travel and global exploration, powerful reach of its target audience in key global markets, and a shared passion for making great story-telling content. Collectively, they created a rich celebration of 20 years of Connecting People and Cultures, firmly looking to the prospect of future cultural experiences and the endless possibilities they can open-up.
Google Pixel 2 & The Guardian: ‘The Chain’ | Google Pixel | OMD | UK
Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Content
Audience research indicated that fashion was a key passion point for Google Pixel’s target audience and, just like the smartphone category, the world of fashion itself was going through its very own revolution: the industry bible, Vogue, was changing editors, fashion houses were taking a stand against size zero, and supermodels were increasingly using their profile for social change. It decided to go where no other technology brand has gone before, teaming up with the Guardian, a powerful voice in UK culture who pride themselves on challenging the status quo, to make Google Pixel 2 a fashion icon in its own right and to disrupt the way phones are traditionally marketed.
“Ten people. Ten days. One phone.” Welcome to the Chain. OMD asked 10 “creatures of change” to use the Pixel 2 for a day. These changemakers shared the same values as Google and constantly asked more – more of themselves, more of the fashion industry and more of their smartphone. They were to document the places they went, the people they connected to and the things they were inspired by. Working with the Guardian, it would document the experience in real time, curating a series of branded content showcasing the Pixel 2’s values.
This content came together all within one month to form the first magazine created purely on a smartphone: The Chain. The Chain was a digital chain letter – 10 fashion icons, 10 days, and one phone documenting the world of fashion. The agency curated all the content in real-time to publish 46 articles, three videos and a pristine 32-page magazine.