SOMETECHFORTHEWEEKEND: Laser enthusiasts across the capital woke feeling a little cheated Friday morning, let down by the (£500million) Shard’s underpowered fanfare the previous night. The low-fi fiasco no doubt encouraged many of Europe’s tallest building’s potential suitors to slip a numb arm from beneath expectation, dress quickly and quietly, and slip out the door without need for a chat about the anticlimax that was their first date.
What should have ended in glory, and launched a wonderful relationship with London, only added to the comic tragedy of a very erect, but seemingly impotent statement of creativity and ambition.
The lesson for anyone trying to build a brand is to tell your story properly, and to make sure each and every climax is worth waiting for. If you promise a lot, and don’t deliver when it comes to the payoff, in these cruel cruel times, you’re going down, and going down BIG. Social media, led by Twitter and Facebook, made sure of that by 10.20pm.
In our ongoing mission to understand how tech, content and brands are working together to create a brighter future, Techcityinsider.net was at C21Media’s Propaganda Factory conference this week, where all parties in the value chain discussed the changing nature of media and came to one resounding conclusion; that telling an authentic story, rather than peddling messages that don’t deliver on expectation, matters more than ever in the connected world.
This is why many brands are now spending a significant amount of money creating content to tell their stories over time rather than rely on advertising that can be skipped or stunts that disappoint.
For example, Grant Little (left), head of digital at agency Upfront told Propaganda Factory that Burberry now spends 60% of its marketing budget on creating digital content rather than buying media. A significant shift in focus.
Turning products into stories has always been important Anders Plyhm, creative director at SapientNitro, demonstrated, noting that Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster (“Blacky”) sold at auction for £526,00, a half or million pounds or so more than the ticket price.
But, with so much competition in the digital world, and without a rock star always attached, the challenge to stand out with compelling narrative is ever-more demanding, and relies on better use of tech, married to content, to deliver.
Online video is the playground many brands are now turning to in order to capture hearts and minds and drive ROI. Graham Hodge, head of branded content at LBi reiterated the Forester stat that predicts 91% of all internet traffic will be video by 2015, and that V-commerce will become a considerable force.
In this environment, with ubiquitous connectivity “social media will become social broadcasting” added Alberto Barreiro, head of experience at ITV Digital. “The ‘Timeline’ as the disruptive paradigm is key in this world” he added, noting that how Facebook and Pinterest attract and return audiences will be adopted by other content platforms as a matter of course.
Retailers are starting to understand how best to harness this revolution. At Propaganda Factory it was reported that Littlewoods has increased the size of its online “basket” by 30% and increased online sales by 292% in the past year by creating web video content the feature its merchandise.
Another piece of potentially unfathomable research from Forester (in my book) concluded that ‘one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.’ No. Really!
Nick Hajdu, chief operating officer for Adjust Your Set, which launched the first fully integrated Facebook video player for Debenhams in 2010, has now introduced cross media video propositions for other major retailers including M&S, all of which are now becoming channels.
These high street brands now find that by creating ‘sharable original web video content’ they can achieve double digital sales growth, which proves that telling stories around brands is becoming an increasingly effective way to take products to market.
Paul Chard (pictured), managing partner at MediaCom, part of GroupM and one of the world’s largest media buyers brought it home, telling conference that his agency “now employs TV executives not media buyers” because brands want to create content not buy advertising.
Chard, who works with brands including Proctor and Gamble, Glaxo Klein, Warner Bros. Mars, Bayer, Ikea among many more said: “With the rise of smart TV and social, consumers want a dialogue. Attitudes are changing, there is declining loyalty, a cult of the new, and consumer are more savvy, more cynical and more demanding.” Quoting Wendy Clark, Coca Cola’s head of integrated marketing and communications he said: “A ‘like’ is important but a ‘share’ is more important. We have to hold ourselves accountable for creating content that is sharable.” And he’s a media buyer. What are the content creators thinking?
The summary of Chard’s (and we are talking Chard not Shard) view to the future of persuasion is that technology is changing the way we consume content, consumers want dialogue, brands want engagement, everything is digital, social media is the glue, and everyone in the equation needs to find a new business model and way of funding the ecosystem that supports all forms of life in the value chain.
As Salman Amin, CMO at PepsiCo, famously said: “It’s all about the content, and great content equals great storytelling. Don’t bring me media plans, bring me amazing stories, insights and ideas. I need amazing ground breaking stories that capture consumers.”
And whatever you do, if you’ve got Europe’s tallest building, have Europe’s biggest laser show, or keep quiet until you get your story right.
By David Jenkinson