In the 1950s television advertising became a force in the media. Over the next half century, television commercials were the main medium for corporate brands to drive consumerism to new heights. But things changed. The internet, social media and now digital devices, fragmented the medium and attention spans along with it.
Today, consumers can control what they want to hear and watch. They can turn off the TV and watch their favorite show online, without ads. They can read web magazines and block ads. And when they see ads on different devices and then visit the store, they expect consistency. According to a Percolate2016 Trends paper, “In the age of the hyperconnected consumer, brands have to design customer experiences that ensure they meet customer expectations and provide a seamless experience on all channels.” Content plays a central role in that customer experience.
With so much noise, so many messages and so many media formats vying for the customer’s attention, advertisers and marketers now need to tell a compelling story about their products if they want to be heard. Consumers want authenticity. They want relevance. They want to buy from companies that uphold their values. And they want to be delighted and humored in the process.
It is a difficult endeavor and content marketing has been evolving to answer the challenge. Corporations are making the transition in what is probably the most significant shift to the marketing profession in decades. Brands are experimenting with infographics, educational videos, mobile ads, native advertising and other creative formats to try and reach audience segments. It is an expensive process as well, given that content creation takes time and talent.
NewsCred CEO and Cofounder, Shafqat Islam explains, “Now, businesses are seeing real results from their efforts and are realizing that content isn’t just a piece of the marketing puzzle, it’s the fuel that keeps the marketing engine, and the business, growing.” This is certainly true for most B2C sectors, but as Scripted CEO, Curtis Kroeker, explains, “Regulated industries like healthcare and finance are adapting slower due to the need for more stringent review and approval prior to publishing.”
This focus on content has been evolving over the last five years and is now reaching a peak as some brands are hiring a Brand Editor or Editor in Chief to create and manage their own content creation teams. Companies are hiring former journalists to showcase their values, their perspectives and their mission inside a rich and engaging story. Rivaling publishers and traditional media, companies like Coca Cola,IBM, and other giants and even startups are creating their own publishing arms, with editors who manage teams of creatives and writers. Just like a newsroom, these teams must agree on writing style, tone and content formats, while also managing the websites, magazines and other distribution channels that are run by the company itself.Contently’s Editor in Chief, Joe Lazauskas, believes that “The trend of brands launching serious content studios will explode fivefold.”
With in-house content creation teams popping up and new content creation startups setting up shop, the natural question is what role do media and PR agencies play? Presumably their staff is also being courted by these in-house teams and their services may be in flux as alternatives crop up. Agencies have decades of experience working with brands and according to Islam, “They are helping produce quality content as well as ensuring it gets in front of the right people.” While old-fashioned advertising pitches may decrease, Kroeker adds that “The value of an agency’s strategic guidance and execution bandwidth is more important than ever.” For now at least, it seems there is a role for everyone to play in the future of branding.
Bheemesh Chowdary Kacharagadla is Founder and MD at Kacharagadla Media Corp. He can be reached at email@example.com