Content evolution - catch up on the present, and prepare for the future


Content, content, content - that’s all we hear these days, but what’s actually happening in this space? Oscar Lie, from our Story Lab team, takes a close look at current trends and future possibilities...

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As with many aspects of the media world, digital is disrupting the way we work and the way clients look at their media spend.

In The Story Lab our digital spend has grown by 16% since last year, but this is very much a generalisation as digital feeds into all forms of media and this can be seen as digital disruption.

We can see this in the way that digital powerhouses such as AOL and Amazon are changing the whole way commissioning models work; they are spending millions on creating new shows exclusive to their platforms and Amazon is piloting some using their users' ratings to decide on which shows get commissioned for full runs.

Amazon even offers people online tools to submit scripts/storyboards to create their own shows. This will allow them to predict successful shows and also overlay shoppers' habits to provide great consumer data for marketers.

Even platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are realising that their platforms are nothing without content. This is why they are partnering with a number of content producers to create content specific to their platforms, which we can see with Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ tool and Facebook’s ‘Anthology’ programme.

On the other hand, Google (clearly a strong market leader in many areas) really falls behind in the content space. They really don’t have any presence in this area and have little control over the creation of content that lives on their mass distribution platforms.

The real opportunity with Google is the rise of the MCN’s (Multi-Channel Networks) such as Maker, Rightster and Channel Flip. They have better content, organic distribution and talent which has seen them become the drivers behind the explosion of the vloggersphere.

With digital partners disrupting the commissioning model and new platforms disrupting content creation, the likes of Genero and Talenthouse are disrupting the way brands connect with the creative community. Talenthouse challenges a global community of creatives to answer their briefs and Genero has access to over 300,000 directors, animators and visual storytellers in 180 countries which they use to produce high quality AV for clients.

We can even see the way that disruption is happening across the more traditional areas. In broadcast sponsorships the offerings have evolved a lot more, with top tier properties selling after competitive pitches, and the winners are those who have the ambition to activate across all touch points and using digital channels to engage audiences and enrich viewing experiences.

Channel 4 are jumping ahead of the curve with C4 Shorts, their digital offering and attitude to client content. You don’t even have to buy the broadcast sponsorship any more to be a part of the hype and get your brand involved; we can see this with Very and X Factor’s licensing deal which unlocked talent and content, giving Very a plethora of digital sales touch points to sell from.

Publishers are becoming more open to sharing their data, content, tools, research and reporters with brands. We can also see the disruption happening with the likes of Mashable and Buzzfeed who are legitimising their content offering and moving away from just lists or tech.

Even radio is disrupting the marketplace when it comes to content and creative solutions by redefining themselves as asset owners and selling themselves to us more as entertainment companies. We even see podcasts on the rise again with Acast being the first company to monetise it for brands.

The final trend we’re seeing is the explosion of content formats. No longer do we operate in a world of AV and articles to tell our brand stories, with the likes of Vines, cinema graphs, and even emoticons getting in on the act. The next challenge? Cracking the internet of things – wearable tech.

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