The Content Arms Race: Why Brands Are Screwed
The Content Arms Race
This piece was taken from Andrew’s presentation at the Seattle Interactive Conference on “The Content Arms Race: Why Brands Are Screwed.” and was subsequently published on The Drum.
Wait. I thought brands were doing well in the branded content space?
We keep hearing about Red Bull, GE, American Express, Intel, Adobe, and others who have supposedly mastered this content marketing opportunity and created efficient content production engines that are driving results.
Well for starters, those brands are considered the top 1%. No, not the 1% you are thinking.
The top 1% of brands that have a proven content strategy, sufficient resources and budget, appropriate goals, and above all else, can point towards consistent and measureable success.
Don’t fool yourself, this 1% still faces challenges. They have just gotten a head start in a race - a content arms race - which is becoming increasingly more difficult for brands.
Here are five reasons why I believe brands need to pay closer attention to their plans for branded content and the expected outcome of their efforts.
1. The Consumer Has Choices
According to DOMO research, 277,000 tweets, 2.4 million Facebook posts, and 216,000 Instagram photos are shared every minute of every day. The consumer has an infinite amount of content choices at their disposal.
Whether through traditional media (TV, radio, etc.) methods, social feed discovery, or a referral from a friend, our targeted consumer has quality and relevant content items to choose and consume. Unless they are interrupted and disrupted by a brand’s content piece, they will rarely choose a branded piece of content over the other options presented to them.
2. Production is Exceeding Consumption
One common solution to this problem is to create more content. More content will surely provide more results for our brand. Wrong. The content consumption capabilities of consumers are going to flat-line over time while the production of content will continue to rise at a rapid rate. Simply put, consumers won’t have enough time to consume the amount of content produced. This helps generate a quality-over-quantity argument when determining increasing the volume of content.
3. Publishers Have a Stronger Position to Capitalize
One of the most prevalent competitors to brands in the content space are publishers vying for audience attention as well. Think of Vice, Complex Media, Fast Company, and other publishers that create content at a rapid rate to help support their business models. These publishers are better positioned to capture this attention with their dedicated staff, formalized process to production and loyal social audiences to help amplify the content.
4. Content Creators Are Removing Subject Matter Expertise
As niche content creators continue to emerge, think of unboxing a tech product or doing makeup tutorials on YouTube, the brand begins to get squeezed out of their industry or subject matter expertise. If a content creator has developed a loyal audience without the burden of driving sales or business results, it will be difficult for a brand to add certain topics or points of view to their list of content targets. The consumer is more likely to seek out an individual with authentic content in comparison to product focused branded content.
This reduces their content opportunities and increases the importance of understanding what topics they can product around and the conversations they can have with their audience.
5. Brands Aren’t Equipped or Prepared to Win
With all of this competition, brands are forced to invest (media budget, resources, tools/platforms, etc.) to compete. Some of the brands listed above have done that effectively. However, most still lack the documented strategy needed, the production resources, the company buy-in, the process to combine media and content together, and the appropriate data and measurement plan needed.
Yes, brands will face an uphill battle when it comes to being successful at branded content. They will need to be aware of their own specific challenges, the state of their industry and what their audience inherently wants to consume.
It won’t be easy, but if a brand can research, plan, and invest in a long term plan, they will be moving in the right direction.