CMA Winners 2017: Real Stories, Real Emotions & Lots of Tech As the winners of the CMA awards enjoy their time in the spotlight, consultant editor (and judge) Dominic Mills looks over them and finds plenty of common themes. At first glance, there might not seem to be much that binds together the 2017 gold winners. They are a mix of the long-established blue-chip content marketers like BA, Waitrose and Land Rover, as well as newer names like the Army, insurer Allianz, Adidas and a Norwegian quango. Indeed, on one level the awards underline the glorious diversity of the landscape, with all kinds of clients – some with large budgets, some with minuscule ones – using content for a wide variety of purposes. It should be said also, since the CMA International Awards are unique for their focus on effectiveness, all paid off handsomely in terms of results for their brand owners. The full list of winners and entry summaries is here. But look deeper and there are several common themes that also bind them together. First is the use of real people telling real stories. I suspect this is down to the journalistic roots that underpin content marketing. Journalists instinctively know that the way to drive reader engagement is through the human stories that draw us together, and there was plenty of storytelling going on. Advertising, by contrast, favours more artificial constructs and often places actors or celebs in confected scenarios. The second is through emotion, with many of the stories genuinely tugging at the heartstrings. Many of the winners first sought to understand the relevant emotional drivers behind purchase decisions, and then find ways to express them meaningfully. Much of this was done through data mining allied to intelligent interpretation to find genuine insights. In this, content marketing and advertising are marching closer in step, as more brands downplay the rational in favour of what we now call System One thinking, first popularised by Daniel Kahneman. If the ad industry was quick to understand the power of behavioural psychology, content marketers have now also embraced it. And third is the increasingly sophisticated use of technology – not just to drive reach, of which there are plenty of examples – but to build proprietary systems that permit both data mining and insight, but also drive efficiencies of production, allowing content to be easily repurposed (multi-purposed might be a better descriptor), scaled, targeted and, in some cases, personalised. The power of real people Let’s start with the Grand prix winner, for the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (NLIA) by Geelmuyden Kiese (it also won Best Video-Singular and Best Specialist), which made a star out of Anna Gorzynik, mother of Polish truck driver Lukasz. Anna, who goes on a road trip through Norway with Lukasz, epitomises the real people, real stories, theme. You can see the full case study film here. Thousands of foreign truck drivers, mainly East European, enter Norway every day. The NLIA wanted to educate them about local driving and employment regulations. They are both hard to reach (they’re on the road constantly) and typically resistant to authority bodies. But in a genius piece of insight, the NLIA understood that they listen to their mums, so Anna was invited to join Lukasz in his cab. She is, as you might expect, the classic mum – nagging, worried, loving. “Jesus,” she tells Lukasz, “slow down”. But she’s a star. Utterly natural, utterly compelling. The film went viral, and has now been subtitled for drivers from eight other nationalities. Less ordinary, but nonetheless real, are the Para and abled Olympians who featured in campaigns for Allianz insurance by MediaCom (Best Finance and Best Video–Series) and Bridgestone tyres by We are Fearless (Best Automative) respectively. Apart from being low-interest, functionally-driven, apparently-rational, categories, tyres and insurance don’t ostensibly look the same. But thereafter both brands share similar ground: common emotional values – safety, reliability, support; a common goal to drive awareness; the recognition of the pain and struggle Olympians suffer to achieve their goals; and the harnessing of the latter to tell gripping, human stories that resonate with all of us. Allianz’s ‘Dare to Believe’ films featured seven Paralympians, among them a one-armed swimmer and, Al Jawed, a legless powerlifter. It’s hard not to be moved by their willpower or inspired by their triumphs. Bridgestone similarly sought to focus on perseverance and effort, with 17 films tailored for different European markets, and pushed out over every conceivable channel, from social to owned media to earned. Its film for UK medal diver Chris Mears exemplifies the message, showing how he overcame a life-threatening ruptured spleen to take gold. Tech rules It’s a given that tech plays a key part in data acquisition and content distribution these days, but what impressed me was the way winners used tech for other purposes, including scaling, re-purposing and personalisation – all of which also drive efficiencies. And much of the tech is proprietary. For RBS (Best B2B), Progressive Content built the ContentLive system, which combines a commissioning and content creator platform, a bespoke CMS that supports multiple sites, and custom-built web sites and apps to give each of the RBS Group brands its ‘own channel’. This underpinned RBS’s ‘I saw this and thought of you’ campaign, which allows business banking frontline staff to follow-up customer contacts with specially chosen and relevant content that addresses their business needs. Via apps, staff could easily find the right content and distribute it themselves. Created once, the content could be used many times. You can see a NatWest example here. You can also see similar tech platform/hub concepts as the building block of Cedar’s multi-brand, multi-language, work for BA and its sister IAG airlines (Best Content on Owned Channels), where the AEROLab dashboard allows Cedar to becnhmark performance of different content across its brands, as well as test out new ideas on a 1,000-strong panel. For the Army, Karmarama’s ‘This is belonging’ (Best Data and Insight) recruitment campaign put tech at the core. Joining the Army is a life-changing decision: often taken over many months; involving a complicated customer journey; and, at root, employing different emotional motivations. Army recruitment is thus well-suited to content, but demands genuine data analysis and insight. Here’s a snapshot of its digital eco-system, which takes data from successful recruits and seeks to match it with Karmarama’s proprietary Continuum Pool of data on 48m UK adults. The data uncovered key motivations for joining the Army and also time-stamped interactions with Army messaging. The first gave up the insight that allowed Karmarama to build an over-arching emotional motivating theme – the desire for recruits to ‘belong to something greater than themselves’. The second allowed it to target potential recruits and then serve up different content at varying points along the decision route. The new and the classic One of the joys of the awards is the way it shows how content marketing accomodates both the new and the classic. In the new corner, we have Iris’s work for the launch of the adidas GLITCH boot, a mobile-only, content-only campaign – ie none of the usual massive TV campaigns featuring highly-remunerated superstars that are common in this category. The GLITCH is a modifiable, customisable boot aimed at so-called ‘free-style’ footballers. It can only be bought via an app, and then after referral by an existing GLITCH wearer who passes on a one-off referral code. In other words, it’s an exclusive club led by influencers who helped design the boot and whose community provides peer-to-peer advice and UGC.  See more here. And finally, let us celebrate  the classic — in both senses of the word: classic print for a classic car, the Land Rover Defender (Best Use of Print within a Multi-Media Campaign), the last of 2m cars having rolled off the production line in 2017. Produced by Foxtrot Papa, it’s a limited-circulation, high-price coffee-table book, celebrating the car through owners’ stories. And it’s glorious, to read, look at and touch. Solid, yet silky and luxurious: you just want to keep rolling your hand across the book. And the content’s not bad either, part nostalgia, part celebration. I’m not the slightest bit interested in the car, but I read this and I wanted this book on my table. It’s a reminder, if we need one, of the enduring power of print and its ability to stir those emotions. Now let’s see what 2018 brings. Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA             Read more Grand Prix Triumph for Scandinavian Agency Geelmuyden Kiese at the 2017 International Content Marketing Awards The Content Marketing Association (CMA), the industry body for the content marketing industry, announced the winners of its eighth annual International Content Marketing Awards last night at a glittering ceremony at The Roundhouse in London. The International Content Marketing Awards are the most competitive content marketing awards in the world, and this year saw a record number of entries from a record number of agencies. The 2017 awards also introduced four new categories – Best Content Campaign, Best Use of SEO, Best Video – Series, and Rising Star – to reflect the developing trends in the industry. This year’s awards received over 400 entries from 135 different agencies in 23 different countries, with winners coming from agencies spread around the world, from Norway and The Netherlands to Hong Kong and Australia. Indeed, it was Scandinavian content agency Geelmuyden Kiese that walked away with the coveted Grand Prix for ‘The Truck Driver’s Mother’, created for The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. This compelling film was commissioned to educate overseas truckers about the hazards of driving in Norway and their rights as workers in the country. Featuring a Polish truck driver and his mother, the film was seen over 5.1m times, with tens of thousands of shares and comments from its target countries of Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Germany. “The film’s synergy with the brand is perfect,” said the Grand Prix judges. “It addresses a longstanding communications challenge in an engaging and innovative way, and is an idea that’s completely out of the box, yet so logical!” Other winning agencies on the night include Cedar, who took home Best Annual Content Strategy, Best Use of Content on Owned Media Channels, Editor of the Year and Designer of the Year, as well as MediaCom, who won three awards for their work with Allianz and Canesten. Catherine Maskell, Managing Director of the Content Marketing Association, said: “This year the list of award winners puts the ‘International’ into the International Content Marketing Awards, with winning agencies coming from all corners of the globe. It truly reflects what a global industry content marketing has become and the huge amount of creativity and planning that goes into every campaign. All winners are a shining testament to the power of content marketing and the fantastic results they can give a brand. Congratulations to them all!” Other notable winners include the UK’s John Brown Media and Australia’s Medium Rare Content Agency. John Brown Media won the Best Retail Consumer award for Waitrose Food magazine, and Best Internal Company Engagement with The Roger Collective for Virgin Group. Meanwhile, Medium Rare won the Best Travel award for Qantas Magazine & Travel Insider, and Best Use of Monetised Content for Coles Supermarkets. The full list of winners of the 2017 International Content Marketing Awards are: Best Automotive Chase Your Dream – No Matter What – Bridgestone –  WeAreFearless Best FMCG Count Your Chickens – Birds Eye – Inkling Best Finance Dare To Believe – Allianz – MediaCom Best Travel Qantas Magazine & Travel Insider – Qantas – Medium Rare Content Agency Best Membership Supply Management – CIPS – Haymarket Network Best Retail Consumer Waitrose Food – Waitrose – John Brown Media Best Non-Retail Consumer Direct Advice For Dads – HBF Health – Mahlab Best Internal Company Engagement The Roger Collective – Virgin Group – John Brown Media Best Specialist The Truck Driver’s Mother – The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority – Geelmuyden Kiese Best B2B ContentLive – RBS – Progressive Content Best Real-Time Activation The Show – Matalan – ITN Productions for ITV AdVentures Best Distribution Strategy Women In STEM – Various – Mediaplanet Best Use of Data & Insight This Is Belonging – The British Army/Capita plc – Karmarama Best Annual Content Strategy British Airways: Pathfinder – British Airways – Cedar Best Use of Content on Owned Media Channels IAG Portfolio – International Airlines Group – Cedar Best Use of Monetised Content Coles Supermarkets – Coles Supermarkets – Medium Rare Content Agency Best Content Campaign 1066: Year of the Normans – English Heritage – English Heritage Best Use of Innovation adidas GLITCH – adidas GLITCH – iris Best Use of Print Within a Multi-Media Campaign ICON – The Official Story of the Series Land Rover and Defender – Land Rover – Foxtrot Papa Best Social YESLDN  – Social Influencer Video Campaign – Youth Employment Skills London – JBH – The Content Agency Best Use of SEO Are You Sitting Comfortably? – Canesten – MediaCom Best Video – Singular The Truck Driver’s Mother – The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority – Geelmuyden Kiese Best Video – Series Dare To Believe – Allianz – MediaCom Best Use of Illustration Broccoli & Brains – LighterLife – Made By Sonder Best Use of Photography Kenya Airways and Msafiri inflight magazine – Kenya Airways – G+J Custom Content Editor of the Year Tim Hulse – British Airways – Cedar Designer of the Year Steve Ellul – Cathay Pacific – Cedar Rising Star Tom Cornish – MEC Wavemaker Grand Prix The Truck Driver’s Mother – The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority – Geelmuyden Kiese For a full explanation of all the winning entries and judges’ comments, click here.   Read more Newhall Publishing A Day in the Life of… Richard Woolliams, Business Development Director for Newhall Publishing Richard joined the Newhall team in 2014 bringing more than 25 years’ experience, as a Director of Marketing and Communications, Business Development and Client Services Director in content publishing, to launch a new content publishing agency within a long-established publishing house. It’s an exciting time in the world of content marketing and publishing as clients grapple with the digital vs print debate and the best media to ensure effective customer engagement, deliver value for money and provide the all-important ROI. 4am alarm goes off. In honesty, it doesn’t –  I’ve been waiting for it to go off for at least 15 minutes and turn it off just before it disturbs my wife. Quick shower and shave and I hit the road for a 4.5-hour drive to work. Yes 4.5 hours. I obviously don’t do it every day – just once a week to travel from Norwich to the North West where our head office is located. No early morning swim to clear the head for me or half-hour bike ride to blow the cobwebs away. No posh coffee, no first-class travel, no early morning breakfast meeting – no just the long drive to work. ‘Mad’ I know, but the reason I spend 4.5 hours driving to work is I love what I do. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t. Our business has grown considerably since the formal launch of our content publishing agency in September 2014 and we are proud of our growing client list, working with great people, so it really is worth it. The day I have chosen to write about was one that didn’t have a 4am start. In fact – and despite it being a Monday – it started at the usual time, 6am, with the opportunity to pursue my other passion, horse riding. I’m lucky that our Norwich office is only 25 minutes from home, so it gives me the opportunity to take the horse out during the week. I have always admired former colleagues who get fully involved with client activities. This is true for me with our growing equestrian portfolio – it really does make a difference to the clients if you share the same passion and enthusiasm for the sport or sector that you are creating content for or developing a brand in the marketplace. It provides that extra insight and experience to create engaging content for the target audience whether membership, retail or business. Back to the day in question. After 45 mins on the horse, check emails, wash and brush up and into the car, delivering two of the children at school on the way. After totally confusing the youngest on her weekend’s French vocabulary homework and a short but fascinating insight into tectonic plates from the other, I realise I do have a full-on day ahead starting with a team photoshoot for a new promotional brochure and website. I’m first to arrive at the hotel. Check emails (again) and meet the photographer before colleagues arrive – Anita Comerford, Group Editor, Gareth Evans, Art Editor, and Gerallt Davies our Business Development Manager. We have a good laugh as Tracey Pocock, our Picture Editor, tries to keep control. Job done and then into the Norwich office for the 11am Media Sales team meeting to see what’s been happening and the plans for the week ahead to hit those all-important revenue targets. The team are upbeat having closed a new title 12% over target on the previous Friday. I had been tipped off by our Media Sales Manager, Dean Brown, on the Friday night… the client will be pleased and so are the team as commission kicks in! Leave the office for the 5-minute walk to catch the 12-noon train to London. The train is empty, so I can spread out and put further thought into the two meetings ahead. While on the train the family What’s App is busy as my eldest daughter has seen a friend’s post who has some Cockapoo puppies for sale. Everyone very excited, but sorry ‘It’s a no from me’! Arrive into Liverpool Street station on time and meet up with our Managing Director, Christine Blackford, and head off to the first of two client meetings. First stop, Costa Coffee as all the client’s meeting rooms are all booked. No problem – hot chocolates all round. This first meeting is to review a show magazine. Anyone who knows me knows that we are open and honest and say it as it is. It saves so much time. In this case, the product was excellent, but sales were a bit disappointing – not due to effort I hasten to add, as our new Event Sales team did a great job, but the punters just weren’t interested! You can take a horse to water etc. The client is a real character and fun to work with and appreciates that we are working in partnership to break the mould of the usual Show Guide model and create a publication that is more engaging and has longevity – something of real value. After a short discussion, we tweaked the approach and are now all set for the next event. Client happy. Tick. Short tube ride (how did I manage to do this every day for nine years? I really don’t miss it) to the next meeting to explore a new approach for a long-established event in the Spring of 2018. Last year’s publication was tired, and the organisers were not convinced it was being used or even being read at, or after, the event. We discussed the need to satisfy the inclusion of having the usual content – exhibitor listings, daily timetable, site map and so on. But we want to inject something different – content that would engage and truly add to the overall experience. Our discussions went around in circles for a bit as we explored several different ideas. Understandably it will come down to cost and the product needs to be cost appropriate while fulfilling the brief. As I write we are still in discussion but will need to crack on as time will soon be against us! It’s then back on the tube (grim – it’s rush hour) across London to the hotel to get the DJ on and off to The May Fair Hotel for the Condé Nast Johansens Excellence Awards. Earlier in the year we were invited to become the CNJ in-print publishing Hospitality Partner and as a result Christine and I are down to present two awards on the night. As we arrived I give Dario – The May Fair’s sales manager – his birthday card. He was chuffed that I had remembered after meeting him earlier in the year. It’s a simple thing but it makes a difference – we pride ourselves on always trying to inject the personal touch into what we do. It was a great evening surrounded by some of the best hoteliers across Europe. Christine and I present the Awards for Best Luxury Value Hotel, UK & Ireland and Europe. Met some of the winners and secured two follow-up meetings to discuss projects for 2018. They all have a story to tell and we are here to help them craft that story in the form of a bespoke magazine, book or brochure. Who said print is dead? A quality product in people’s hands just can’t be beaten and it has longevity – it’s not a flick on an iPhone. Sent my only Tweet of the day before leaving the hotel at 11.45pm. An early night was needed as we had to be up early to get the train to Rugby to meet other colleagues for a big pitch the following day. However, I made the mistake of turning the television on when I got to my room. A repeat of The Graham Norton Show lit up the room – it really didn’t help with getting to sleep but it was hilarious. 12.30am Check my phone again. How many times … we are still not buying a puppy. Happy Christmas! Newhall Publishing, the content publishing agency, offers a complete integrated marketing and communications service through intelligently written and beautifully designed multi-channel branded content. Newhall is a family-owned company, grounded in tradition but young in spirit, with a team of over 100 talented and dedicated people. Now based in two locations in Hoylake, on the Wirral, and Norwich in Norfolk. The agency works with clients across the country to bring a refreshing approach to working with businesses and membership organisations, gaining greater engagement and sales for clients. Richard can be contacted on 07903 700485 or Read more The case for brand communities: 40% say they would spend more… A couple of weeks ago we previewed our new report, The Benefits of Brand Communities, at an event which also featured a panel discussion hosted by Catherine Maskell, Managing Director of the Content Marketing Association. The discussion was based on the findings of the report which shows how important being part of a brand community is to consumers, and for marketers how it benefits both spend and loyalty. It included speakers from Harley-Davidson, Metro and City AM, Porsche Club GB and the Department of Psychology at the University of East Anglia.  Looking at the detail of the report, 40% of people we surveyed in the UK this summer said that being part of a brand community meant they’d be likely to spend more money on that brand’s products and services, and that rose to well over half (58%) of consumers aged 25 to 34. We all know that consumers are constantly seeking inspiration and information, but sometimes the marketing industry’s over-reliance on tech-focused tools can mean that brands are communicating in a way that is intrusive, blunt and ultimately ineffective. Our research shifts the emphasis from a data-or-nothing approach to cultivate long-term relationships, brand advocacy and boost sales. One of our event panellists, Dr Charles Seger, who leads the Social and Embodied Cognition Research Group at the University of East Anglia has endorsed the report’s findings with his own analysis of consumer behaviour, telling us that: “Belongingness is one of our basic human needs. We are motivated to both assert our group identification and our individuality. Brand communities can allow us to fulfil these motives. People will stay loyal to brand communities that provide a unique experience, allow us to express our self-concept, and engage us with a meaningful community.” In total, 1,200 UK consumers were surveyed by Censuswide on our behalf, exploring attitudes towards brand community, loyalty and communications, with a focus on the luxury, automotive and travel sectors. When it comes to specifying how important brand communities are in specific industries, 25- to 34-year-olds lead the way: 57% of millennials think that brand communities are important in luxury; 56% in the travel sector agree and 55% in the automotive sector. The average is 41% for travel, 36% in luxury and 34% in automotive. Other key results include: 37% of respondents are more likely to stick with a brand than switch to competitors if they are part of a community Quality of service turns consumers into brand advocates in the travel sector, according to 41% of respondents Quality of products makes consumers brand advocates in the luxury (44%) and automotive sectors (37%) In luxury, respondents most value discounts and offers from brand communities (47%), followed by invites to exclusive events (25%), receiving exclusive products (22%) and access to exclusive online content (19%) Email is the consumer’s preferred channel for communication with brands, with social media and magazines the next most popular channels. Commenting on the report for us, Chris Seaward, General Manager of the Porsche Club GB, and a major advocate of brand communities said that “reaching a new lead is an expensive thing for a brand to do. Through a community like the Club, the Porsche brand can connect with people already engaged with the brand, and tapping into this existing community becomes cost effective. There is additional value for members and the brand as enthusiasts are regularly invited to visit the Factory in Stuttgart to see latest designs and development.” Catherine Maskell’s view of the relationship between content and communities is equally unequivocal.  “Community is best enjoyed when the relationship is a two way-street – if you empower, engage and integrate with your customers you ultimately make them feel special, and subsequently they will feel encouraged to give back. Which is why so many people agree that they spend more and are more loyal to brands when they are part of their community. When interacting with these communities it’s easy to be blinded by focusing on the technology used to deliver branded messages however this can lead to not enough time being spent on generating genuinely useful content and real human engagement.” The findings and analysis in The Benefits of Brand Communities provide invaluable insights that I hope will encourage brands to consider the relevance of community-based marketing. Developing a strong brand community can create a viable, long-term advocacy mechanism, increase the lifetime value of existing customers, and provide potential customers with an honest, open and inclusive window on a brand, product or service. The full report, The Benefits of Brand Communities, is now available as a free download from our website, or you can get in touch with me to obtain a hard copy or discuss content and communities further. Download the report here. Zoë Francis-Cox, Agency Director, Archant Dialogue     Read more 2017 – The Year in Content Marketing Quiz On Wednesday 6th December the CMA’s Digital Breakfast will be taking a long hard look at 2017. Our panel of experts will showcase what they think have been the major innovations of the last twelve months while offering some predictions for 2018. In the meantime though you can discover how much you have been paying attention this year by taking our content marketing 2017 quiz. Get 100% correct and you can win 2 tickets to a future Digital Breakfast, be careful though some parts are a tad tricky. Send a screenshot of your score to Have a go and see you on the 6th. There are more details about the last Digital Breakfast of the year here. Read more How can your content stand out? There is now so much content being generated by publishers, brands and consumers that getting your work to stand out is becoming increasingly difficult. How you achieve excellence and virality for branded content was the key topic of the digital breakfast held in the first week of November. The first of the four presenters was Stefano Marrone, Managing Director, Nucco Brain. Stefano runs the visual storytelling studio working in the VR, animation, illustration, visual development and motion graphics field, creating high-quality cross-media content for brands and agencies alike. He kicked off by asking the question “how do we get our audience to binge watch branded content?” In other words, how do we do get them to watch branded content in the way that they would watch Netflix? Stefano explained that his company, which works mainly with B2B and corporate clients, sees the competition for his content as not just from rival companies, but as the entire media landscape. He argued that content “needs to be attention grabbing, as appealing as a Netflix show.” Stefano then showed how people digest information which he likened to a sales funnel. He stressed the importance of a hook for the content, but lamented that some clients want to move the fine print to the top of the funnel. He believes that the most important thing is how to generate the hook and the level of awareness. Stefano also believes that one of the enemies of content creation is insistence on perfection. He said this often leads to a campaign panic mentality. Rather content should be created in a sustained and ongoing way. He highlighted that the key conflict in content creation is “budget vs quality of good content,” arguing that we need to learn from the old school with a format for each target audience/segment. For Innovate UK the company created a series of strands targeted at different segments, with different level of quality and pacing. They also undertook an optimised production approach – asking ‘how can we squeeze as much content as possible from this?’ Stefano exhorted the audience to think about platforms, keeping in mind all the possible uses of content that they can do. Creating digital scarcity The second presenter was Seth Jackson, CEO, Landmark, a location-based experiences platform – the Pokémon GO for branded content is how the company describes it – powering branded, global campaigns for companies including Sony Music, Showtime Networks and CeX. Seth took as the theme for his presentation – kinetic currency and creating digital scarcity. Seth began by arguing that 2017 has been a year that has been characterised by movement in the currency markets. From the emergence of Bitcoin, through to the dollar jumping up and down like a yoyo and the Euro and pound volatility. Another currency is kinetic currency, which Seth describes as physical movement in return for a reward. To illustrate this he talked about a Stormzy gig his daughter recently attended. Her kinetic currency included sharing that she was going to the gig on channels like Whatsapp, as well as actually walking to the show. Seth added the kinetic currency was not a new concept either, adding that stores have used it and it is common in festivals too. He then began to discuss the issues around experiential content acknowledging that “experiential doesn’t ‘scale, yet digital can scale beautifully, but it has no scarcity.” He argued that if we can create digital scarcity people will care.  So can it add value in tandem with kinetic currency? Seth believes that a year ago people would have said no. Then Pokemon Go came along, which proved that you can get people move from physical content to an experience. Seth explained that a massive opportunity for brands in the future is that people are doing things to actively participate in a digital experience. He cited Nike Snkrs as being a recent example of how his concept works. With Snkrs people want to have the limited edition shoe. To facilitate this Nike created virtual Snkrs in digital locations – people turn up and open up their phone in that location and then buy the shoe. Seth explained that Landmark wanted to explore idea of a playground for marketers with concepts of digital scarcity and kinetic currency. They wanted it to be a web based platform incorporating AR.  The platform, which can be white labeled, allowed brands to place digital content in the real world in real time.  He argued that if you “create a level of scarcity you see interesting results.” To illustrate this Seth cited a concept that was developed for Homeland Surveillance Mission – which turned the streets of NYC into an interactive walking tour. People engaged with the content as they walked around the city. In other words if consumers have delivered their kinetic currency they get a reward – something worthwhile. Another example was for the singer Shakira. Content was placed in different hot spots. Different tracks were hidden in different places – and it was only when the content was found the tracks were added online. Seth explained how fans worked together to discover this content and deliver it to the rest of the world. Seth finished by asking – can scarcity work? He said he thinks it can, but there needs to be a lot of experimentation first. Harnessing AI in branded content The third speaker was Alex Vaidya, CEO & Co-Founder, StoryStream, a content marketing platform helping global brands to deliver the content most likely to engage and convert customers across every digital channel. Alex began by explaining how StoryStream is a content marketing platform powered by Artificial intelligence (AI), and is an innovation in how people will work with content and data. Alex described AI as the latest evolution in tech to help humans communicate. He then ran through how technology had helped people communicate in the past; from cave painting through to the mobile phone. He pointed out that we live in an age of information overload and that 90% of data has been created in last two years. “We have reached the content crunch, what do we do?” he asked. “Those who adopt new innovations first have competitive advantage,” stressed Alex. “We are awash with data but not using it –AI is the new era of human communication.” Alex added that AI will help humans process data and help us to make decisions about its conclusions. Alex then highlighted four areas that brands can use AI in content marketing 1 Visual recognition – looking at sets of images and then making predictions about future ones. A key area is visual search. 2 Language – natural language processing-  understanding the context of text and language, for example chatbots. Alex added that this was an example of the way AI can give humans more capacity. 3 Decision making – making recommendations as to how people use the platform. For example, videos you like on Netflix. 4 Data analytics – looking at the data such as web traffic etc and spotting trends. “Data is like oil. AI helps you find the good stuff,” argued Alex. “AI needs to be part of a brand’s marketing armoury. AI can’t do imagination – it frees up time, so we can focused on creative part – storytelling Alex then ran through a use case of how brands can use AI to solve interesting problems – unlocking social data He explained that for humans alone this was a non-starter as, for example, it would take 11 years of work to analyse 110,000 pieces of  content. Using AI it is possible to identify trends in the content quickly and easily. To illustrate this Alex spoke of social tribes and of a certain type of owner of Mini cars. These are women between 20-25 who own Minis and take images of the car’s key with their manicured nails. AI image recognition can be used note and identify this tribe. As Alex said “the audience create the tribe themselves, once you know the tribe, you know where they are and what content they engage with etc. You are able to build a sophisticated profile of your tribe. You can aggregate the content around the brand and then apply AI and tag it, and you can group content together.” The power of audio The last speaker of the day was Clare Chadburn, Head of Development, Wisebuddah – who focused on how brands can engage through audio Clare ran through a series of slides which highlighted how audio can engage with consumers in a unique way. Her first case study was the creation of a radio station called Last Pirate FM on behalf of a group of charities who want to encourage people to leave them money in their will. Clare explained that her company was presented with two challenges. Firstly to bring together the voices of 183 charities, and secondly to connect with a certain audience of people who grew up in the 60s who listened to pirate radio. WiseBuddah created a narrative around an original pirate radio DJ from the 60s – Emperor Rosko – and billed him as the last pirate on his final stint. DAB licences were created in five areas and the content was available via Mixcloud, 24 hours 7 days a week. The campaign was very successful in creating both a noise and a legacy for the charities. Clare also cited the success of podcasting pointing out that in terms of engagement and attention it is the opposite end of the scale of the goldfish spectrum. She cited recent research that showed podcast listeners to be within the ages of 25-44 and many listened to podcasts for more than two hours per day. She highlighted how podcasts such as This American Life, Serial and others were successful because of their informal, relaxed style and the way that they enabled people to share the type of stories that they might not share on traditional radio formats. She featured a snippet from Attitude Heroes, a podcast series from Attitude magazine which  celebrated the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. The podcast was created in conjunction with car brand Jaguar. Clare explained how savvy brands are now starting to create podcasts citing Virgin, Mr Porter and Microsoft as being examples of companies who have created successful and engaging podcasts. Clare finished by stressing the reasons for creating audio content. These include: Tell a different story Generate shareable content Humanise your brand Gain a new audience and consumers Be authentic Offer thought leadership Create a community Whilst keeping production costs low She finished by pointing to the future and the growth of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and how these might create new demand for audio content. Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more Is Personalised Content Getting Smarter? Technology can be transformative, making lives easier and less stressful. However, if there’s one topic that seems to always raise the blood pressure of marketers it is tech-driven personalisation of content. Content marketers not only have to think about ROI on the content they produce for their own platforms, but also invariably optimise it for social media too. Personalising it for individuals seems like an additional task that they really could do without. However there are figures that suggest that companies that do optimise the content for their visitors are much more likely to have successful outcomes whether that’s brand awareness or direct sales. For example in 2015, technology market researcher Gartner published a statistic that suggested that by 2018, companies that have “fully invested in all types of personalisation” will outsell companies that have not by 20 percent. That’s a fairly significant margin. Many online retailers have already achieved huge success with personalisation.  Amazon has offered suggested additional purchases based on personal behaviour for many years now. There’s also a significant amount of personalisation in both online display ad words and in social platforms. So why not content too? The good news is that the increasing sophistication of Artificial Intelligence has helped spawn a new breed of startups which in theory should make personalising content a lot easier and significantly more automated. How personal? Much of the way that the content is personalised depends on the data that is generated by a person. The task for brands is to interpret this data and then come up appropriate solutions. Brands can learn much about a person from not just the content they choose to read or view, but also other factors, such as the time of the day they visit, the length of time they spend reading the content, the device they use and their previous interactions with the site. All this data can be harnessed to ensure that the content that is delivered matches the expectation of the visitor and ensures that they engage with the brand in a way that is meaningful for both parties. At the moment a lot of the personalisation of content is at a fairly basic level. So, for example, brands will use the data they have on a visitor and make the call about where they are on journey. Then serve them pop ups or boxes highlighting additional content, offers, subscriptions etc. Pioneering startups Content personalisation is however likely to become a lot more sophisticated thanks to a new breed of startups who are harnessing Artificial Intelligence to take the concept further. Liftigniter recently announced that it has raised over $6 million to help websites of all stripes to personalise the content they serve readers. “Our customers’ websites are living and breathing things, and the connections between every piece of content is changing,” co-founder Adam Spector told TechCrunch. “The articles you write today could be super relevant to an article that’s five years old. The relevance may change over time. The world is constantly in flux, the idea of having a hard-coded, static list of connections doesn’t make sense.” Liftigniter uses AI to look at a variety of signals to determine a person’s journey and the intent they might have in visiting a site. It then delivers the most appropriate web page. The there’s Dynamic Yield, an Israeli startup which has raised a very significant war chest of around $50 million to enable brands to streamline and automate the personalisation journey. It is not just web pages that are personalised in this way either. Clinch is a startup that has developed personalised video ads. The technology could however be used to deliver personalised video content too. If you want to know more about personalisation of content then the Digital Breakfast this Wednesday (8th) is focusing on the topic with views from a range of speakers from both technology companies and agencies. More information here. Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more The Sweet Spot Where Content, Influencers and Social Meet There’s a growing industry consensus that the point where content, influencers and social platforms interact is a sweet spot for brands, says consultant editor Dominic Mills. The trick is how to take advantage of it, manage it and maximise the return It’s one of the jobs of a consultant editor to roam the landscape, gathering and sorting truffles for the audience to consume. Not too shabby, as jobs go. Let’s start with influencers, a hot subject. At last month’s Festival of Marketing the subject of influencers was near-ubiquitous. What influencers do is create content. Not ads, not marketing collateral, not material necessarily aligned with the top or the bottom of the purchase funnel, but plain and simple content. So…first stop is October’s CMA breakfast on ROI. Of the many nuggets on show, one comment from Jules Lund, founder of the Tribe social influencer agency, caught my ear. Pointing to his smartphone, he noted that the current models came packed with camera-enhancement tools – filters, AR and so on – that made the posting of near-professional quality content incredibly easy. Combine that with a) a profusion of platforms – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc – b) a millennial cohort with an appetite for recording and making public every aspect of their lives via video or image (including their interactions with brands) – and c) a whole new aspect of content marketing opens up. As Lund sees it, these forces are ushering a whole new age, that of the micro influencer. Micro influencers are members of small tribes,  he says, and are replacing celebrity influencers. What they lack in reach, they more than make up for in the engagement they can drive. “The smaller the tribe,” says Lund, “the more personal the contact, the greater the trust and the higher the engagement they drive.” According to Tribe figures, influencers with reach of 3-50,000 followers achieve an average engagement of 4.12pc. Those with 100,000+ achieve about 2pc. Rise of visual platforms Truffling around elsewhere last month, I met Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C, a tech-based outfit that manages social campaigns and helps advertisers sync between social and broadcast. (By the way, 4C offers content marketers a new three-letter acronym to impress: SUR or swipe-up rate. Use that and feel epic.) 4C’s latest figures show the near-vertical rise of ad content on second-generation platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Some of that ad content, assuming it is properly labelled – which is important and failure to do so is potentially a fly in the ointment – is influencer generated. What these platforms have in common is that: a) they have particularly large user bases amongst millennials; b) they are predominantly visual; and therefore c) fertile ground for easy-to-make content of the type produced by influencers. As Goldman notes, they have different characteristics. One that he highlighted was Pinterest, which he described as the most “intent-driven” platform. This makes sense. Search may offer the first signals of intent, but when people start pinning images intent has jumped a gear. This potency is intensified as the platforms add new facilities, such as Pinterest’s visual search mechanic. Emily Kramer, senior media services director at data giant Merkle, describes this as “a capability so compelling that a brand like [US retailer] Target is building the offering into a native app – putting consumer experience at the forefront of the engagement.” On Instagram, immersive full-screen capabilities on the platform’s Stories facility reinforce the value of quality content. Says Kramer: “Content reigns supreme and vertival video provides brands with a full-scale canvas to message their offering.” The Nissan way So what does this mean for brands? Over at last month’s Festival of Marketing, Nissan gave delegates a best-in-class and detailed breakdown of the way it uses content from influencers. The Nissan principle is simple: align its influencer strategy to each stage of the customer journey, integrating it into the broader comms plan. The result is that Nissan now has one comms plan and one budget, out of which comes influencer content. And that content is judged on KPIs that are aligned to the brand objectives – in other words the same as any other part of the comms plan. The mechanics are a little more complicated. Nissan breaks the customer journey into four – See..Think..Do…Care – but the priorities are different for each model in its range. Thus the Qashkai is more about the ‘See’ in order to build reach, while the electric Leaf model is more about the ‘Think’ to drive trust. It has three categories of influencer, from from celebs in the top tier, high-reach individuals in the middle, and lower-reach ‘advocates’ at the bottom. Nissan’s influencer efforts, therefore, are no small beer. Managing them and the process is a big task. All told it works directly with almolst 200, and watches the efforts of 600. This requires an in-house team of four full-time staff. The role of content agencies So, if all these influencers are producing tons of content, where do content agencies fit in? In many places, I’d say. Few clients are of the size of Nissan, capable of funding an in-house unit, and even in-house units need support from outside agencies. One starting point is devising an influencer strategy, which is pretty much an offshoot of constructing a content strategy. What does the brand need, where and when? What role does that influencer content play at different points in the customer journey? Left to their own devices, this is not the sort of thinking influencers offer – and why would they? Managing the process is equally complex and requires both specialist knowledge and an innate understanding of what makes good content. Going down the micro influencer route clearly expands rthe scope of the task. While platforms like Tribe ease the process, there still has to be some quality control and distribution skills applied. Again, these are both areas that fall naturally into the remit of content specialists. Third, staying on top of the rapid developments in platform capabilities is a job that requires experience and expertise. Understanding the different roles of the platforms demands a deep knowledge of the landscape. Again, this falls naturally to agencies. Those working across multiple brands have a better view. Last, there are the issues of measurement and optimisation. Agencies are better placed to understand benchmarks and norms for content engagement KPIs, and then the ability to iterate or optimise content to seek the maximum return. And of course, content agencies are damn good at creating content themselves. Any brand that relies solely on influencers might be taking too great a risk. Just as the confluence of technology, influencers and social platforms offers brands a whole new world to play in, so it does for agencies. Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA Read more Living The Brand In a departure from our usual A Day in the Life column, we’ve invited Zoë Francis-Cox, Director at content agency Dialogue, to tell us how she is living the brand every day with key client Harley-Davidson. In the context of my work, I’m often met with surprise when I say I didn’t ride a motorcycle before Dialogue started working with Harley-Davidson… responses include “you actually learned to ride a motorbike for your job?”. The answer is simple: yes, I did. As I browsed through the brief for a magazine for UK members of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) with the team in early 2007, I half-jokingly said that I’d learn to ride a motorcycle if we won this account. Not something I’d ever considered before, but all of sudden it seemed like a cool idea. Skip forward 12 months and we were working on our first issue – not of a UK magazine, but a localized and translated magazine for six EMEA markets. And with female riders a clear outreach target for the brand, it was only natural that I learned to ride and reported on the experience for our first issue. At the time, Harley-Davidson had a Riding Academy based in Wales; the test in the UK was far more relaxed than it is now, but an intensive course and two attempts later, I was the proud owner of a ‘big bike’ motorcycle licence. More importantly, I was now a customer. I bought my first Harley-Davidson, a 2007 Street Bob in Denim Black, just three months later, and by autumn I was on a road trip to Belgium with my partner (I bought him a CBT test for his birthday so he could come too!). As we published our first issue, I was learning fast about the lifestyle associated with this brand. There were events across the country, the EMEA region, and the world, that all sounded amazing. Riders were very proud to wear their apparel and the H-D badge proudly… and they LOVED taking photographs of them, their bikes, and the great places where they rode them. And now I do too. Dialogue’s Agency Director Zoë Francis-Cox rides with 1000s of other Harley-Davidson owners in Croatia. I wanted to be able to share my photos with fellow members, and see other members’ images; I wanted to learn about the best places to ride, the best places to stop for coffee, the best hotels, advice on how to look after my bike, and how to learn to ride better; and I didn’t want to wait three months until the next quarterly printed magazine… Skip forward a decade… I’m on my fourth bike – a super-cool little Sportster Iron! I’ve ridden to a European event every year, sometimes leading a group. A Harley-Davidson Authorized Tours ride in South Africa resulted in a marriage proposal on the back of an elephant; my husband and I have customised five bikes between us; and road trips have become our escape and our passion. Dialogue’s work with the Harley owners Group includes video, event management, social media, email communications and printed assets. As a member of HOG, I now receive a monthly email with all the latest news, tips, event reports and tales from the world of H-D, with UK-specific content (other market editions are available too); the quarterly printed magazine is also digitised with even more members’ images in the digital edition; an online gallery website publishes every single image that is submitted (there are more than 100 every week!) – it’s also linked to an app that facilitates easy upload while on the move. HOG EMEA has a page on a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, which communicate daily on really cool stuff – particularly around the big events. These platforms have really come alive with the use of 360 and VR technology, taking the whole immersive experience to a whole new level! As a member, I’ve never felt closer to this global community of Harley owners. And it’s never been easier to keep an eye on my team! While working with Harley-Davidson has clearly given me many opportunities to indulge my passion for riding, being a customer as well has clearly influenced the ideas and initiatives I’ve worked on with our client over the years, which in turn has led to even greater engagement between the brand and its community. Zoë Francis-Cox, Agency Director, Dialogue Read more Read More News Articles »
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