Recently, Ed and Tom wrote reflective posts that explore the discoveries of last year. In contrast, I wanted to explore the year ahead, not just for the tree but for the content industry as a whole. As we say around the office, it’s good to be interesting and interested.
Branded content has becoming so intrinsically linked with customer purchasing that almost every major publisher or broadcaster in the UK today has a branded content division.
From Channel 4 and ITV Productions to Bauer and The Times, they’ve all had to diversify and offer more engaging and creative branded content as more traditional advertising fails to inspire real time ROI as it once did. Indeed, in the last couple of days we’ve seen the Independent go digital-only as a response to precisely this.
Companies across the market are waking up to the exciting opportunities that innovative content-driven marketing can unveil. As an example, friend and former colleague Steve Forsdick, Key Account Director at Brand Republic stated:
“Here at Brand Republic we’ve found the need to shake things up with our commercial offering as we try to add real value to our members and agency supporters. Agencies just weren’t building the same relationships with our readership through advertising alone, that’s why we’re now driving more engaging, influential and interactive content solutions for our customers”
So what can we expect from the marketing landscape in 2016 and what other buzzwords will people be banding about in the coffee shops of Shoreditch in the months to follow?
My Five Things to Look out for in 2016
- Social Optimisation
It’s been a while in the making, yet this year will see an increasing shift from SEO to Social Media as customers use social channels more effectively to obtain product and service insight.
Search engines will very much still be the main port of call for search, however customers are likely to shift their attention to social as they expect more visually stimulating content, can easily assess pier ratings and gauge sentiment of other online shoppers. Businesses should no longer just obsess on how they are going to be found on Google but how they can get found on Google and social.
- Social and Content Converge
What’s now commonly called ‘Real Time Content Marketing’ is going to take pride of place within powerful customer focused marketing strategies in 2016.
Social media and content itself will collide giving marketeers real time insight on what customers want and what’s working, which intern allows them to create content on the fly, relevant to the communities they operate within.
We’re blessed with social tools such as BuzzSumo that allow increasingly insightful real time insight. Real time marketing helps form valuable customer relationships, identify new customers and audience segments as well as better identify brand advocates and influencers.
- Having a 360 Degree Perspective
Oculus Rift, Sony VR and other VR and augmented reality technologies are going to redefine the way marketeers plan user journeys. Moreover, the advent of 360-degree video will redefine customers’ interactions with a brand.
Fully branded VR is a little way off, however the importance of this new media can be seen by consumers’ thirst for interactivity and personalisation. Done well, interactive video would allow a consumer to move from being a passive viewer to an active participant. Personalisation connects with customers in a way digital has often failed to previously.
On a recent walk through Spitlefield I watched a highly successful M&S pop up enable consumers to build their dream living-room, then walk around and interact with it using Oculus. Incredible interactive sales-focused content marketing!
According to the investment firm Nomura sees the VR industry reaching $10.4 billion by 2020. 2016 will be year zero, so you better have eyes in the back of your head.
- Only the Finest Things Will Count
Fast-passed, easily-consumed content has dominated the digital landscape in recent years. 2016 will be the year of quality over quantity. Move aside grainy vine videos of cats, say hello to quality.
With increasingly powerful technologies and super HD devices, smart content creators will factor in preference for luxurious videos and image to match. Online consumers of content are showing real preference for informative and useful content over blatant sales efforts, and for custom content over shared content. It is important to note that these preferences exist in the B2B sector as well as the B2C sector.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 67% of companies with an active blog will drive more leads than those that don’t, it’s the quality of this content that will count.
- Invest in Better, Long-form Editorial
We’ve been noticing for some time that our clients’ longer form editorial content performs up to 72% better online than is miniature cousins. Moreover, with Google’s Knowledge Graph and instant answers really coming into its own, users are able to gain long-tail search terms that really add value to their search experience.
2016 will also see digital assistants like Siri and Cortana offering something similar which delivers more sophisticated answering provisions driving down click wastage and improving relevance. In short, the more complex and in-depth the editorial content, the greater the opportunity for being seen across search, and the more likely it is to be shared on social and really have a chance of penetrating the social white noise.
The year ahead is bound to throw up some additional opportunities for marketing, but the above five points are certainly enough to be getting on with for the time being. With new tech like VR heading to market, and new directions for content, we here at the tree are extremely excited and appreciative to be working with some great clients to deliver some unreal content.
If you’d like to chat about how we can help you get ahead of the curve and deliver your audience something remarkable, get in touch.
Here’s to looking ahead.