How marketers tackle the content challenge and what this means for the media partners they work with was central to the roundtable debate, Marketing held, in association with integrated marketing agency Five by Five, at last month’s Media360 conference in London’s Excel.
Key marketers from Shell, the Prince’s Trust, Mondolez International, Tourism for Ireland and VisitEngland discussed how different types of content, platforms and media channels can help brands engage and keep the attention of consumers while there are more and more businesses trying to compete for that attention.
The over-arching trends influencing media consumption are clear but, for instance, as digital channels grow, how online media is accessed continues to change. By 2015, tablets and smartphones are expected to exceed personal computers as sources of Internet usage. Therefore, the huge increase in mobile media consumption is set to rise further still. How do marketers keep up with that, particularly as brands are producing more and more content?
"Everyone’s consuming content on the go much more than they were, and choosing that content as well. So there are loads of opportunities for us as marketers, but there are lots of disadvantages because the consumers are much more discerning (about what they consume and when)," says Charlotte Ridley, head of marketing partnerships of the Prince’s Trust.
How to meet more personalised consumer needs also powered much of the discussion round the table. One key question was how best to solve the challenge of producing successful mobile (and other) marketing content in a world where a huge number of different types of consumer are looking to consume content in very different ways.
Americo Silva, global media manager for Shell, says that marketers need to research their audience and tailor content specifically in order to be effective. Facebook, as a content and advertising platform, is helpful.
"Facebook offers us the possibility for very detailed segmentation, and it is able to develop very detailed clusters of groups of people for us that are exactly the type of audience that we want to reach. If you do your homework and you really understand your objective then you are quite effective, but if you just try to reach everyone then the effectiveness goes down."
You can compare content consumption to snacking, says Rob Ellison, media manager for the UK and Ireland at Mondolez Intl. "Short form content is becoming a really popular thing; (the mobile video App)Vine’s just started to take off and is massive in the UK. People are snacking on stuff (Vine enables 6 seconds of video production) and dipping in and out, and so if you can engage with them very quickly on something it can be quite meaningful, and it might be that the thing that gets them to read more."
Q: How do you currently find your consumers?
Brian Twomey, head of marketing and communications and content for Tourism for Ireland, says, "We’re fortunate that we seem to be a category that encourages participation, so our audience is very broad but it can also be very targeted. It can be very cost-effective on specific promotions as you can target the size of that audience in a cost-effective way."
As long as you’re prepared to pay for it you can drive scale through Facebook, Ellison thinks. "The algorithm says if you post to your fanbase only 14% of them actually see it, you have to pay for the other 86%. But when we were looking at a campaign primarily trying to target 16-34s, over 90% of them are on Facebook. So you can actually reach all of those if you’re willing to pay for it."
"When understanding your consumer, one size does not fit all," says Manasi Kumar, head of media at VisitEngland. "I’m often getting briefs saying that we need to hit everybody, but really you need to think about who specifically is coming to the destination - the ‘nicher’ you go the better."
"We’re being told to hit the general public, but who are they?" Ridley agrees.
Q: Is Facebook the best way to reach your audience?
It’s the trickiest way, says Martin Flavin, creative director of Five by Five. "It seems to present so much; so many people, such great analytics, and yet people go on there to look at pictures of other people’s cats. I think a lot of brands are completely disillusioned with it, some brands just aren’t right for it."
Ellison agrees: "it depends what your presence is on there. It’s just one of many ways that you can do it; you can do it through YouTube, you can do it through traditional media."
Press is still a very effective tool, finds Kumar, particularly when the need for long-form content meets a small production budget. ‘There’s this attitude that press is dying, but I was really surprised with the results of some recent content that we did where the motivation scores have skyrocketed."
But Twomey feels that, in general, press’ role is diminishing, as "people want content now, they want it to be topical, they want it to be current, and once it’s read then after a day it’s useless. Whereas if it’s digitally placed then it’s constantly live and constantly relevant."
It’s a privilege to be on somebody’s timeline, and unless you’re actually doing something valuable there then you’re annoying people, Flavin advises. "People have come to accept that they pay a tax to get to the things they want, so those five seconds on YouTube before I get to the video I want are the longest five seconds in the world, but that’s the five second tax I pay for a two minute movie trailer."
For Ellison that proves that good content is worth actively seeking out: "You’ll watch an ad to see a trailer, and a trailer is an advert itself, so you’re actively seeking out the advert. I do it as well, as long as it’s entertaining."
Q: How do you solve the challenge of placing content and making sure that the money you invest gives good ROI?
You need to take in to account how consumers use different types of media, says Ellison. "It’s really about understanding your consumers and what channels they actually operate in, and making sure your content will actually fit in that. If they’re not on YouTube then don’t stick it on YouTube, because they’re not going to find it."
It’s all about awareness, explains Silva. "If you do your homework on what you’re trying to solve and the challenges you face, that will help you decide what you need to do. The more you are able to articulate that clearly, the easier it will be to identify what needs to be done, rather than follow the gimmicks."
Flavin agrees that the lure of gimmicks can be dangerous for brands: "Some say just build it and they will come, but 20% of everything was created last year, so everybody’s creating content. You can’t just put things in front of people that they’re not interested in and aren’t valuable to them, because you’re just in the way."
From Ridley’s perspective it’s about ‘passion points’ and creating a love for the organisation itself to get people to share content they like.
"I think when you generate a passion for the organisation then you generate advocates who then push out content for you or tell people about you. That can bring difficulties trying to control that environment, but it’s absolutely about creating a passion for your brand if you want good content."
Entertainment needs to be informative, but there is room to experiment, says Twomey.
"Because you’re not under the same scrutiny as producing a 30 second ad, which can lose creativity as more people get involved throughout the production process, with short-form content you can explore greater boundaries and greater links in with the consumer, although it must be something they want."
Q: Do you think younger generations of consumers are the most discerning or choosy about what content they want?
As a representative of an organisation trying to convey a message primarily to young people, Ridley says yes. "Facebook, when it first set up, was a lovely organic space where people could share information, and as time’s gone on it’s tried to monetise and we’re
following that by trying to shove content at people, which is annoying them, which is sending them off Facebook. So then we’ve got to find the next place to run, but they’re (consumers) always one step ahead."
And, Flavin says, marketers have begun to capitalise on that. When it comes to pre-roll ads on YouTube, you now see ads that do the whole thing before they can be skipped. "It’s not a‘tax’ anymore, I’m just getting the ad for five seconds."
Q:What does success in social media marketing look like? Are Likes, for instance, a good metric and an indicator of success? What is?
"It’s different for everyone in a sense," says Twomey. "What we’re trying to get is a better return on investment, and so we’ve introduced what we call an SEAV (social equivalent advertising value) to really assess the value."
People don’t talk enough about what success will look like at the outset, says Ellison. "They’re focused on the idea whether it meets the marketing objective, and then it’s a bit of an afterthought with how to measure it."
For Ridley it comes down to acquisition, retention and income. "So how many more people are coming, either brands who want to work with us or young people that are interested in going on a programme; retention, how many volunteers are staying with us and proud to be with us; and then income, we need to generate over £55m a year to keep running, are we hitting that."
Another interesting metric is education, says Kumar. "We need to prove to people that there is a reason for doing things a certain way, that creating content is a good thing. But we can’t just preach that, we need to show our stakeholders that this is an efficient way of spending money, that there is a really good reason behind it."
Flavin, however, boils it right down to success as sales: "You can create a great piece of content and they can think you’re funny, but if they’re still not interested in your destination or your Crème Egg, well then you’ve set up a funny comedy channel but you haven’t achieved what it is that you’re supposed to achieve."
We have so many metrics for measurement these days, and success can’t just be about having a good score in all those metrics, says Silva, because not all of them drive activity. "People get so excited with all these metrics and numbers and KPIs, and the issue is how to distil this into two or three key points that will help us with what we want to know."
The Roundtable attendees
Charlotte Ridley, head of marketing partnerships of the Prince’s Trust
Americo Silva, global media manager for Shell
Rob Ellison, media manager for the UK and Ireland at Mondolez International
Brian Twomey, head of marketing and communications and content for Tourism for Ireland
Manasi Kumar, head of media at VisitEngland
Martin Flavin, creative director of Five by Five
Philip Smith, head of content solutions and studio, Marketing and Haymarket Brand Republic Group
To see articles on past roundtables, please click here