Guest Column: How to adapt to the 'brave new world' of content ecosystem? – Shailja Varghese
As content and media experts, we are the key architects of this Brave New World. Now is the time when we need to make the brands ride on the bullet train into the future of content marketing solutions. The question to ask is are we ‘ourselves’ ready for this Brave New World before we guide our clients and partners? Writes content specialist Shailja Varghese
We are the FOMO generation (fear of missing out) which has led to craze of keeping pace with change, a change happening at an exponential rate due to the technological development. Technology is transforming our everyday life and we can expect humanity to change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 200 years. No doubt science fiction movies like Minority Report, Matrix, Back to Future are a reality today with consumers and technology increasingly converging.
However, for a better future, we need to disturb the present and build a vision of the impending ‘brave new world’ ahead. A vision which will enable us to plan the future with imagination and wisdom. First and foremost, in order to have a vision, we need to unplug from here and now and look beyond the familiar and mundane.
Do you agree the best way to predict the future is to create it? This can be done by spending at least 15-20% of our time on what might be. This is what marketers yearn for from content experts and media houses, to be true change agents and torchbearers of transformation for them to make sense of the complex content and media eco system. We all know its mayhem out there, and speed of change has flabbergasted all. Media owners acquiring business and distribute. Clients create and own channels. Consumers control and create content. Its predicted that next few years will be of acquisitions and buy outs. Earlier this year we saw a start to this trend when Verizon bought over Yahoo for 4.8 billion; NBC Universal doubled its investment in Buzzfeed by another $200 million investment; Time Warner bought 10% stake in Hulu, valuing at $5.8 billion.
It is a super dynamic world. So, let’s pause to look into the 3 key pillars of ‘Brave New World’ of content eco-system by the year 2020:
o Pillar No 1 Consumer
o Pillar No 2 Technology & Data
o Pillar No 3 Brands
Pillar No 1 – Consumer
Consumers have come a long way from the era of appointment viewership to sharing and creating content in digital space to now publishing content in communities to garner social equity. This major change has happened because consumers are immersed in what drives their passion, be it digitally or physically and brands need to find the right balance of these aspects to drive salience. Content is everywhere, and there is a rise of individual and social consumption driven by smartphones and tablets which has put an end to content scarcity as digital distribution achieves ubiquity. In a more complex ecosystem like this, in future, content will come from anywhere, anyone; but content will have to find consumer.
By 2020, 2.5 billion population will be younger than 18. Who will be connected to the internet by birth; 25% of their lives will be in front of screens; 74% on mobile screens; 60% of them will want to make a difference. They will be collaborative, resourceful, liberal, creative, future-focused and realists.
It will be interesting to see what solutions we as content experts will have to communicate with this iGeneration!
Pillar No 2 Technology & Data
By 2020 almost ‘Everything’ will be a screen and 65% of 9 billion population will be on net and smart phones will become our external brain. Internet connected devices will outnumber humans three to one (40 billion connected devices).
Above stats clearly indicate, going ahead we will live in exponential time when technology will grow faster than human mind and also get cheaper. Technology has already made buying stuff made easier through mobile wallets powered by biometric technology. We are already addicted to hyper-connectivity, studies by RadiumOne show that interacting in social media releases dopamine in the brain, the same rush one feels during workouts, eating and other pleasurable experiences. Youth hangout online for richer social media interactions. Massively fragmented niche user groups are easily defined and identified by big data through their online behaviours. Collaboration & crowdsourcing will further increase virtual co-creation and remote collaboration will be more ingrained into people’s work. Ideas will flow freely from different sources. Technology will further help to better manage the digital persona, enabling consumers to move into more private spaces for interaction (ex. Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram stories, etc.)
Pillar No 3 Brands
Power has already shifted to the consumer. With consumers increasingly seeking experiences & digital continuing to penetrate their daily lives, brands will have to augment the real world with experiences & payoffs keeping both of these aspects in mind. Driven by technology, brands will increasingly give seamless experiences by many different two-way conversations with many different and relevant people, creating meaningful, long-term relationships with them. Marketers will have to keep ‘consumer journey’ at the pivot of planning. Brands are gradually evolving to tell authentic stories that are inspiring, entertaining and most importantly valuable to a more discerning audience.
No wonder off late we have seen some key brands embody great storytelling and stand for a larger purpose. Where brands are carving identities and creating communities to harness the relationship with the consumer, emboldened by new purpose.
My recent favourite content initiative by brand Microsoft redefined traditional mediums for brand experience for their product X-box for their new game Tomb Raider. It won Gold Cannes at Lions Entertainment 2016
· 8 minutes average dwell time (vs. 8 seconds for a regular billboard)
· 1000 weather votes per hour
· £3.8 million in earned media
· 11000 viewers for 22 hours straight
· 3.5 million views
· 32000 comments in 22 hours
My second example is Lions Entertainment Grand Prix winner ‘Displaced' for The New York Times. It shows going ahead, tech will be the backbone of many great things to come. We must watch out for more cool campaigns like, this virtual reality experience, signaling VR's arrival into the mainstream.
Another really nice animation short film by Paper Boat which brings nostalgia and simplicity by emotionally connecting with the audiences.
To summarise the above 3 key pillars (consumer, technology and brands) will build a Brave New World of content eco system where:
1. Consumer will be publishers striving for social equity.
2. Rise of big data; wearable-tech; virtual reality; augmented reality; 360 videos and many more new screens.
3. Increased role and usage of digital Influencers.
4. Blurring of offline and online experiences.
5. Brands evolve their purpose to meet changing consumer and tech landscape.
6. Content part of product experience.
7. Consumers more hyper-connected, hyper-efficient and more purpose-driven.
In the new content ecosystem, content will come from anyone and anywhere.
As content and media experts we are the key architects of this Brave New World. Now is the time when we need to make the brands ride on the bullet train into the future of content marketing solutions. The question to ask is are we ‘ourselves’ ready for this Brave New World before we guide our clients and partners? Think!
(The author is a Content Specialist and was a jury for Lions Entertainment at Cannes Lions 2016)
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