Readers of this blog will be aware of the macro trends we see as we move into 2015; mobile first, identified and measurable distribution channels and the need to change behaviours both internally and externally in order to execute. Detailing out these trends, I have created a list of 15 predictions that need to form a key part of any strategy and plan for organisations as they look to lead and face an increasingly dynamic ecosystem of content creators, providers, publishers and consumers.
The 'publishing' in brand publisher will finally make sense. Overall 2015 will be a key penny-drop moment for world's finest marketers who will realize that instead of mere jargon it is a clear description of a process that has been adopted by newspapers, magazines and broadcasters for decades for the perpetual creation and distribution of relevant and exciting consumer content. A brand's publishing model will rapidly become as significant as its business model. Considerable time and revenue will be invested in process and planning for requisite organizational structures, new and more appropriate skills, global and local creative decision-making, distribution and measurement.
As organizations increasingly realize, with content they need to think culture first before they can bridge back to commerce. We are increasingly seeing that brands have a knowledge gap in terms of how people are consuming, shaping, or even creating culture. The brands that work to understand this insight area will steal a march over their rivals as they will have a better understanding of how to build true connection with their audience, by being what people are interested in as opposed to interrupting what they are interested in.
Partnerships and new ways of working will produce industry leaders. Collaboration will be key in 2015 -- brands will continue to cross traditional value chain and industry boundaries to partner with tech companies, publishers and other organizations to innovatively reach more of their potential audience, more consistently, more of the time. Tone of Voice, reach and relevancy will seldom be achieved in isolation in todays landscape of multi-device, multi-format, multi-platform consumption. Relevancy will become the key focus.
Consumers will find less distinction in the approach leading brands take from entertainment providers. Production houses, media capabilities and the heart of storytelling will finally converge in earnest to deliver short films, feature films, soap operas, sitcoms, recording artists to compete with the best traditional broadcast, film and online formats.
The desktop is dead. Between 2010 and 2013, time spent on Desktop increased by 7 percent. Mobile grew by 237 percent. Multi-device [Source: Comscore], multi-format storytelling will be essential in 2015 as 50 percent of content consumed is now mobile and half all content shared is in a peer-to-peer environment. Clever commerce will merge the creation of content with an interactive ability to purchase in a native mobile environment.
Data will get real. After an eternity of measuring success (or not) by views and impressions, brands will finally be able to get a more wholesome view of their audience thanks to the growing use of single sign-ons across device and platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google login etc.) The catch? Most of this data will lie in the hands of the tech giants of this world and it won't come cheap!
2015 will be the year that brands embrace "big data" to further their storytelling goals. Brands such as Spotify and Airbnb are already utilising customer data to create compelling and valuable narratives, focused on their customers, for their customers.
- Wear-ables and connected devices will change the landscape of mobile applications. With devices becoming more discrete, how we interact with them (and them with us) will change rapidly. A new type of device interaction (driven by the Google 'Physical Web' project) will provide a platform to deliver contextually relevant, personalized content to their audience. Brands who don't embrace this methodology will fall by the wayside in the increasingly important mobile space.
Brands will begin to understand the power of subculture influencers. These micro-celebrities will continue to produce regular content for their highly engaged niche audiences, and brands will finally realise the extent of their influence and seek to pursue endorsement deals with them.
Brands will learn how to adopt altruism. With user generated content and social impact campaigns ruling the roost in 2014, the public have shown mixed views on how they feel about been involved with brands teaming up with charities to promote their products. Is it possible for a brand to have a pure selfless attitude in their charity work; can they support causes without the rewards and public showcasing for their support? I'd like to think they can...
- Walking the walk. With so much content control in consumer's hands, brands cannot hide from the fact that the culture of the entire organization must act in a way consistent to the stories they tell. If not, the resulting negative sentiment could kill your content marketing stone dead. What consumers tell each other about your products, your values and your customer service are the most avidly consumed and trusted content types of all.
Content with Context. As audiences continue to become more sophisticated and their attention is increasingly fought over, brand campaigns that connect online content with a tangible event or community activity will be most successful at building lasting engagement and loyalty.
Ideally, 2015 would be the year that we finally manage to explain the difference between creating content and putting useful information online. True content has the power to empower, entertain, liberate and change cultures but needs dedicated vision. Attempting to marry both in a single 'ad' execution is like hooking up a caravan to an F1 car and still expecting to win the race.
The Rise and Rise of Video. The old adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words' has never been truer. Instagram now has 200 million daily users worldwide who share 60 million pictures. Emojis continue on their quest for world domination as their use now outranks that of hyphens or the number 5 on Twitter. Side-stepping the impatience of the TLDR sentiment, video delivers information quickly, without demanding too much of the viewer. It cuts through online noise, is more engaging than written content or still images and it's the perfect medium to tell a brand story.
- Brands will create Bespoke Social Content for each social platform. You may be thinking this is something that's already being done, and it is, but only by the game changers, and the brands who understand the purpose of Social Media and brand storytelling. For too many, social platforms have become dumping grounds for brands above the line comms including TV ads and print. For a user to go to the effort of following you as a brand, they want added value and a story into your brand so they know what you are about and feel a part of your brand. Recycling content for social media is just not going to cut it. More brands are waking up to creating bespoke content for each social channel, and they will be the future game changers of 2015 and beyond.
I would like to thank my colleagues at Adjust Your Set for their invaluable opinions in supporting in the collation of this list.
Lucy Cooper is Corporate Development Director at Adjust Your Set, A Digital Content Agency
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