Content Marketing Trends For 2018

Gilad de Vries
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The holidays are upon us, so it’s time for my annual predictions for what I think would be the main trends in Content Marketing in 2018. While many of my predictions for 2017 will continue to be relevant next year, here are some new trends that we’re noticing in the market:

New Formats

To keep up with Millennials consumption patterns Marketers will need to tailor content to different platforms and experiences and make them much more engaging and relevant for the audience. Creating content for just for your site or blog or for your social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Snap and Twitter) is just not good enough anymore. I think we’ll see much more adoption of nontraditional old and new formats and platforms like:

  • Branded Podcasts (for example in collaboration with Gimlet Creative who developed shows for eBay and Virgin Atlantic)
  • Custom Publishing (for example from the NY Times’ TBrandStudio or Time inc’s TheFoundry)
  • Interactive engagement modules (for example from PlayBuzz)
  • Placing content inside social feeds of premium publishers (check out Pretty Social)
  • And broadcasting Live!

Live!

Very few brands today are actually taking advantage of broadcasting on live channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Of course, there are many challenges, especially around approval processes, but when done right it can drive a significant impact.

A live stream research found that live video is more appealing to brand audiences: 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.

What kind of things can be broadcasted live? Behind the scenes of the shooting of a campaign for example. Or broadcasting from several angles from the latest sponsored event. Live broadcasting interviews with brand ambassadors or senior leadership. Or live broadcasting of PR events.

Dunkin Donuts live streamed their “test kitchen”, showing how it creates new products for Valentine’s Day season, attracting tens of thousands of viewers.  Sephora hosted a live broadcast with folks like Christophe Robin Paris for a 30-minute block where they would casually provide advice about trends, products and best practices. Adidas live streamed Real Madrid soccer star James Rodriguez signing the deal with them.

Live broadcasting to one channel can be easily done using a good smartphone and great WiFi. For a more robust solution which enables simultaneous HD broadcasting to several platforms (for example: the brand’s website, Facebook and Instagram at the same time), you can use the amazing LiveU portable device which connects to any camera and turns it to a broadcasting hub (Full disclosure: I was part of Viola Ventures who are invested in LiveU)

A great read on how to get started with Live broadcasting is “Don’t Let These 5 Things Screw Up Your Live Content Strategy” on SocialMediaToday.

Amplifying Long Form Video

Longer form content is proven to impact engaged audiences much more than 15-30 second interruptive video ads. Short ads are great to get your logo in front of people but are not going to change their mind.

Google researched the impact of long form content on brand results in collaboration with Mondelez International. While Ad Recall was highest in short form ads, Brand favorability was much higher with longer form.

Many brands have started to create longer form, more engaging, videos but are facing the challenge that amplifying longer form videos at scale is very challenging. Long form videos can not run in standard programmatic or non interruptive media channels so most amplification dollars go into promoting short form video ads.

Measuring and optimizing for viewability or cost per view of short form videos don’t change the basic fact that these ads are interruptive to the consumer experience and have little (if any) emotional impact on the viewer.

But I think this is now starting to change. The old school thinking that you drive emotion in TV and results in digital can’t hold anymore, when over 50% of our youth and millennials simply don’t watch linear TV anymore.

I think brands will demand their media strategies to be more innovative and find ways to promote their long form video content to drive real emotional impact in digital. (Full disclosure: Outbrain is releasing a unique solution for brands to amplify long form content)

From Content Campaigns To Content Living

The Content Marketing category is continuing to grow fast, and that’s great. But the problem is most brands still invest in projects and not in always on strategies. They do a partnership with a large publisher and check the box: “Here’s my Native Advertising Activity”.

Most brands still treat their content marketing like advertising. And that’s a problem.

For content marketing to truly work, it must be differentiated and consistently produced over a long time. Only real commitment to an always on strategy, producing content every day, every week, every month will drive learnings, optimizations and real measureable return on investment.

If you want to truly engage with Millenials you need to not only create content. You need to live it.

Your content needs to be tightly connected to everything you do as a brand. It needs to cut across management, product, media, creative, PR, social, customer care, customer success and any other group in the company that is engaging with the outside world.

Take an hour and view this awesome lecture by Jeff Fromm, author of “Marketing To Millennials”. In this video, Jeff covers expert strategies and lessons for how to market effectively to the largest and most influential demographic group. According to Jeff, telling a story a not enough, “Brands will need to provide demonstrable proof that they’re living that story every day” if they want to win (Min 15:40).

Conclusion

The market is changing at an accelerating pace, we all feel it. This revolution, from low tech high interruption push advertising to personalized value adding tech driven pull marketing, is happening. It’s changing everything we know about how marketing organizations at brands look like, what’s the role of the creative or media agency and how to influence consumers.

Yes, I’m super excited about what next year will bring. Are you?

Gilad de Vries

Senior Vice President of Strategy, who previously led the brands and agencies team at Outbrain. Gilad brings more than 19 years of experience in the digital media and technology fields. Before joining Outbrain, Gilad was VP of Digital Media and Principal at Carmel Ventures, one of Israel's top-tier venture capital firms, where he was highly engaged in Carmel's investments in digital media, Internet and mobile startups. Before Carmel, Gilad was a Senior Director of Marketing and Product Management at Comverse Technology, a leading provider of value-added services for Telco Providers. Gilad holds a B.A. in economics and business management from Bar-Ilan University and a Global MBA cum laude from the IDC Herzelia. Gilad is also a first lieutenant (reserve) in the Israeli Army’s technology unit (Mamram).

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