The March Towards Audience Appreciation: What Content Will Look Like in 2013 [GUEST]

About the author:
Bradley Werner is the VP of Production & Series Development at Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG)

Without question, 2013 is going to be wildly entertaining. The trend of brands adopting and enacting content strategies, which we saw towards the end of 2012, is going to take a sharp turn up and to the right this year. Even now, brands are more aware than ever (and finally embracing the notion) that they have no choice but to be purveyors and producers of great content in this attention economy.

This year will not be the year the 30-second spot dies (that will happen on May 18, 2043). This is the year creatives get hip to the fact that the canvas just got infinitely longer – allowing brands to create and curate more engaging content that speaks to, entertains and informs their enthusiasts. Brands will continue to become more and more comfortable with moving away from traditional ad messaging (“You need to be X, our product will help you become X”) and enthusiastically start stoking their social conversations with content they (and in turn, their audiences) feel is worthwhile. The messaging strategy is becoming “Our company and our products are all about Y – and as such, we wanted to introduce you to this awesome video (story/game/YouTube personality/etc.) we made/found and enjoy. What do you think?”

Based on a simple gaze up from my iPad (to see everyone else on the subway watching, playing or reading something on their own phones and tablets [which is a far cry from say … avoiding eye contact with each other by looking at the ads]), 2013 feels like the year brand-backed content (content that is either produced by, or found and distributed by brands) will overtake traditional advertising – because that’s where the eyeballs are now …and where engaged eyeballs are, brands need to be.

Look at Coca-Cola’s Content 2020 videos, which detail their across-the-board commitment to brand-backed content over standard ad methods, or how Red Bull spent a few million dollars to prove gravity still exists (and ended up capturing the most extended, engaging and uncluttered brand exposure ever). The lesson here being that, “if you sell sugar water, you have a lot of money,” but also that the brands who do some of the best and most market trend research see storytelling (and sharing) as the right strategic direction.



Other brands are also doing a remarkable job of offering their customers reasons to appreciate their tastes. Burberry has over 40 beautifully-but-simply shot acoustic sessions on their site of up-and-coming bands that fit their company’s image, capture an emotion and are immensely sociable. For a brand that sells (iconic) scarves and is dependant on image and perception, curating a virtual concert of high-quality, on-the-cusp-of-pop-culture bands has translated to helping consumers discover Burberry in a new and surprising way — while simultaneously increasing their market’s overall brand exposure time (which if you subscribe to the old Marketing 101 brand funnel, can be a powerful driver for moving people from awareness of a brand, to interest in a brand).

In some ways, the trend this year will appear as if the brands that have supported TV channels since their infancy are now becoming competitive channels of their own – but of course, they’re not. And TV isn’t going anywhere – it’s just learning to compete with storytelling that better fits a brand’s personality, can be distributed through brand-initiated social conversations, and/or as content on appropriate websites and apps, and can be targeted through traditional ad vehicles via all the touchpoints and mediums agencies have at their disposal.