The Challenge Of Dynamic Experiences: How Brands Can Compete In An Ever-Evolving Landscape
Content, irrespective of its form, medium or channel, has become one of the most important influences of consumer engagement. Without relevant and eye-catching content, you offer nothing for your customers to read, listen to, view, learn or share, and thus forge no link between your brand and audience.
Unquestionably, content is beginning to go beyond traditional mediums and channels. Consumers now supplement their consumption of visual and auditory content with evolving user interfaces and experiences. They engage with wearables, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and voice systems on a more regular basis. Brands must recognize that these new platforms and devices nearly hum with untapped potential as consumers begin to fragment their attention across this spectrum of emerging media touch points.
However, based on our experience on both the client and agency side, it seems to be a recurring theme (especially at the C-level) that many companies have little understanding of the components needed to deliver value-creating, dynamic brand activations (DBA). For marketers, the fluidity of consumer behaviors and dynamics requires a purpose-driven brand, experimentation and a new way of working. Without such, the salience of the brand is in jeopardy.
We believe that brands must utilize emerging media and content forms as stepping stones toward future forms of dynamic brand activation. However, they must not be too quick to shed the tried-and-true tactics that stem from more conventional media touchpoints, given that their ability to provide value to consumers may be limited if they do. It’s also especially important to note that the data brands receive about user behavior may not necessarily correspond with what they actually find most relevant or valuable from a marketing strategy standpoint. Content plans must continue to evolve and be developed with thought given to customer empathy, cultural relevance, and a value-creating approach.
More concretely stated, We believe three components yield the greatest opportunity for brands:
- Constant experimentation with emerging content forms to keep pace with customer behaviors
- Artificial intelligence-driven content optimization for real-time personalization
- Brand journalism to breathe purpose into brands
Experimentation With Emerging Content Forms
Sustainable marketing innovation is only possible when brands are steeped in a culture of experimentation, discovery and learning.
Even a perfunctory examination of consumer behavior — the splintering of consumer attention across channels, the adoption of new technology and social platforms, the increased emphasis on visual and video content and the migration to more mobile experiences — indicates that content diversification is key to remaining relevant in the face of profound change.
Brands must be able to clearly address the following questions:
- Which content forms can deliver the most value to my customers?
- Which mediums allow my brand to participate in culturally relevant stories and storytelling?
- Given that users are inherently less likely to share low-quality content, when and where should we place our budgetary bets?
- If each form of content has a different shelf life, what is the longevity and role of each one?
AI-Driven Content Optimization For Real-Time Personalization
Brands now have the opportunity to deliver personalized content at scale, regardless of the change sweeping the digital ecosystem.
There are new dynamic creative optimization technologies that generate personalized videos, ads, websites, email and other digital experiences in real-time by using collected data about the user. These highly customizable experiences are driven by a number of data fields, including a user’s location, behaviors, purchase history, context, demographics and previous brand interactions. There is an AI-based engine underlying these technologies programmed to generate real-time content and optimize the brand’s desired key performance indicator. Thus, it eliminates the expensive and labor-intensive approach previously utilized by brands and creative agencies to solve the same problem.
Other paid media technologies, such as brand optimization tools (Full Disclosure: One of our agencies is a player in the video ad-tech space), allow for media optimization and thus ensure that all ad placements are contextually relevant, appropriate and brand-safe. Unmistakably, brands must continue to make an impact without annoying their customers.
Brands must clearly address the following questions for the best chance of success:
- How are we deploying and optimizing content in relevant spaces across our digital ecosystem?
- Which tools and processes must we adopt to actualize tech-enabled creativity?
- How can we deploy our content production and media spending more efficiently?
Brand Journalism To Breathe New Purpose
Brand journalism allows brands to become more than just products. It enables people to see themselves reflected in the brand and catch hints of their own personality, voice, or beliefs in its content. More importantly, however, brand journalism allows for brands to gain a sense of engaging purpose.
One way to approach brand journalism, which we see a lot of successful brands take, is to blend the best filmmaking techniques with a diverse mix of producers, writers, designers and creatives to create timely and culturally relevant stories. Brand journalism allows brands to authentically immerse themselves into the conversations people care most about in a way that feels assimilative to the current cultural moment rather than disruptive.
To succeed, brands must be able to clearly address the following questions:
- How can our content allow us to authentically assimilate our brand into timely conversations?
- How do we develop a voice and platform that is both culturally relevant and in tune with the conversation today? How can we identify these opportunity-rich cultural moments?
- Which mediums can help provide the most impact, and how should we be defining the role of each medium and channel?
Adroit marketers already recognize that brand entropy can set in if they don’t immediately apply technology-enabled creativity and content to their communications mix. The marketers attempting to continue operating in the same as they’ve always done so invite failure. Avoiding this fate requires an introspective examination — one that evaluates the processes, tools, ways of working, and channel mix that play into the brand’s content strategy. This examination will ultimately lead to solutions that go beyond fixing surface-level connectivity problems to reforge a brand’s relationship with consumers and to establish brand salience during the moments that matter most.