will 1

As inboxes, feeds and streams fill up with text, image and video, James Dunne, Senior Planner at Epsilon, asks whether brands, marketers and agencies are missing something fundamental about what content should be and do?

Speaking last week at the Festival of Marketing, James gave an impassioned talk on how that vast volume of content has come at the high cost of quality and people are drowning in mediocre work that they have no interest in engaging with, at the expense of the companies manically creating the content.

People still rely on brands as a means of navigating the world, they remain an essential element of how we live our lives. However, James felt that we have begun to over-indulge in technology, with companies and marketers championing platforms like Facebook as Gods- something which can come back to bite us when we find out they overshoot their video metrics by potentially 80%.

There is a current paradox in the content world right now: the platforms are in growth but brand interaction within those platforms is decreasing. Instagram has the highest brand engagement out of the major platforms last year at 2.2% (UK only), dropping from 4.2% the previous year. This is followed by Pinterest which has a mere 0.7% engagement, dropping from 0.4% in 2014- content volume is increasing at the high cost of engagemnt. And although only 30% of organisations see Content Marketing as effective, 77% of consumer brands plan on increasing their Content Marketing spends this year.

Most interestingly, 5% of all content generates 90% of all engagement online, the deluge of content being thrown out there isn’t sticking. As James put it, ‘’we’ve skipped the enlightenment era of content and heading straight to the industrial revolution’’. He refers to the top 5% of content as ‘the peak’ and the bottom 95%’ the glut’- the peak obviously isn’t the issue, it’s the low engagement with the glut that brands should be worrying about. Supply is outstripping consumers cognitive capacity, content marketing is being viewed by consumers as a DM discipline.

This isn’t helped by key metrics being quick, shallow, and temporal engagements. Clients demand the dangerous sugar high of an instant metric and media planning agencies love to deliver them- often at the cost of creative, long-term brand building work that actaully leads to long-lasting success.

Luckily, James gave three ways in which he believed we can overcome ‘’the glut’’.

1- Let’s build brand cathedrals – create fewer pieces of (i.e. hero) content that work on brand building, are slow burning and help develop a relationship between consumer and brand.

2- Stop optimising average content that does nothing for building your brand – we are too often constrained by content-calendar tyranny. There hasn’t been a Grand Prix at Cannes for branded content for a few years now- we need to rethink our content strategy ‘big idea’.

3- Balance out automation with emotional intelligence – Think carefully about the audience before distribution; reach vs relevancy.

James certainly wasn’t saying anything against the WCRS mantra, ‘’we create work that people love, choose to interact with, contribute to, share, and even spend their money on.’’

And with the plethora of Festival of Marketing awards sitting behind me it’s fair to say we are living by it. Different types of content are always going to serve their own purposes; brand building, driving traffic, driving action etc. But James’ talk highlighted the fact that most work isn’t engaged with, let’s not let ourselves fall into the glut…