tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/content Latest Content content from Econsultancy 2017-06-15T15:30:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69165 2017-06-15T15:30:00+01:00 2017-06-15T15:30:00+01:00 Brand as publisher: Is Anheuser-Busch InBev's investment in beer magazines savvy or risky? Patricio Robles <p>For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, runs a venture arm called ZX Ventures that has quietly funded a number of beer websites, including RateBeer and Pitchfork's October. The latter is owned by Conde Nast.</p> <p>ZX Ventures' investment in RateBeer was apparently made in October of last year, but only became widely publicized last week <a href="http://goodbeerhunting.com/sightlines/2017/6/2/ratebeer-zx-ventures-acquisition-minority-stake-anheuser-busch-inbev">by Good Beer Hunting</a>, an unaffiliated craft beer website, after some LinkedIn sleuthing.</p> <p>RateBeer bills itself as the "most in-depth, accurate, and one of the most-visited source for beer information." With a focus on craft brewing, it offers its users the ability to rate and review beer as well as businesses that serve beer, such as bars and breweries. It also operates community forums and publishes news stories.</p> <p>The revelation that the world's largest brewer now owns a piece of one of the web's most popular craft brewing sites sparked a lot of controversy. Joseph Tucker, RateBeer's executive director, was forced to make <a href="https://www.ratebeer.com/forums/ratebeer-investment-announcement_296260.htm">an announcement</a> about the investment and his rationale for taking it. He attempted to reassure RateBeer's users that "ZX Ventures has the utmost respect for the integrity of the data and the unbiased service we offer to the entire community and industry."</p> <p>But perhaps not surprisingly, this hasn't satisfied many in the RateBeer community. A number of craft brewers whose beers are listed on RateBeer <a href="https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/craft-breweries-want-their-beers-off-ratebeer-afte.html">have even gone so far as to request that their listings be removed</a>. One craft brewer, Sam Calagione, who runs Dogfish Head, <a href="https://www.dogfish.com/blog/message-sam-current-ratebeer-changes">even suggested</a> that the investment has caused a violation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics.</p> <p>"It just doesn’t seem right for a brewer of any kind to be in a position to potentially manipulate what consumers are hearing and saying about beers, how they are rated and which ones are receiving extra publicity on what might appear to be a legitimate, 100 percent user-generated platform," he stated. "It is our opinion that this initiative and others are ethically dubious and that the lack of transparency is troubling."</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6800/october.png" alt="october" width="615" height="316"></p> <p><em>The October website</em></p> <h3>Savvy or risky?</h3> <p>While Anheuser-Busch InBev's interest in RateBeer is easy to understand, the reaction to it demonstrates that the wisdom of such investments is subject to debate and here, it would appear that the brewing giant's investment might prove to have been more risky than it was savvy.</p> <p>For brands considering similar investments and hoping to avoid similar situations, it's worth asking the following questions before investing:</p> <p><strong>Could the investment reasonably create a perceived conflict of interest?</strong></p> <p>If the answer is yes, brands should tread very, very carefully. While not necessarily a deal breaker – it's hard for brands to invest in a content producer without there being some concern over the potential conflict of interest – some perceived conflicts are likely to be more problematic than others and this should be taken into account.</p> <p><strong>Will the investment create concerns about competition?</strong></p> <p>The most problematic perceived conflict of interest relates to competitive concerns because in today's environment, many consumers are upset by few things more than the specter of a huge corporation using its might to unfairly crush smaller competitors.</p> <p>In the beer industry, giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev are trying to grapple with the rise of craft brewers, which has in large part been fueled by consumer demand for high-quality beers that aren't produced by mega brewers. In response to the growing popularity of craft beer, Anheuser-Busch InBev has purchased a number of craft brewers. It has also <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/anheuser-busch-inbev-shuts-out-craft-beer-brewers-by-hoarding-hops-2017-05-11">been accused of hoarding hops</a>, causing some to suggest that it is acting in an anti-competitive fashion to shut out smaller players.</p> <p>Here, the competitive concerns that would be raised by the company's investment in a site catering to the craft brewing community were not hard to predict.</p> <p><strong>Will the investment be disclosed publicly?</strong> </p> <p>In most circumstances, there's a strong argument to be made that brand investments in content producers should be transparent. There are a number of reasons for this. Chief among them is the fact that transparency gives the websites in question the opportunity to explain the investment and lay out in detail how it will affect them. As part of this, sites can detail how editorial independence will be protected and what data could be shared with the investor.</p> <p>In the case of RateBeer, the fact that ZX Ventures's investment wasn't disclosed for eight months and was disclosed only after it was discovered by another beer site make it appear that the investment was kept hidden intentionally, which only exacerbates the concerns above.</p> <p><em><strong>More on brands as publishers:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68974-four-examples-of-brands-using-educational-content-marketing/">Four examples of brands using educational content marketing</a></li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67426-why-the-brands-as-publishers-trend-is-utter-nonsense/%20">Why the brands as publishers trend is utter nonsense</a> (a controversial view)</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69174 2017-06-15T09:44:00+01:00 2017-06-15T09:44:00+01:00 Four brands pushing the boundaries of content strategy Richard Jones <p>As a result, brands are exploring how best to expose their content in different ways to suit particular channels and new applications. Here I take a look at four of the best examples.</p> <h3>The Economist</h3> <p>It’s very difficult today to know which new technology will gain traction and where to focus your attention and effort. The Economist has taken an innovative approach to this dilemma by reengineering its core systems to support microservices.  </p> <p>As a result the media organisation is able to present its content to a vast array of external systems. From the same core content, they can now serve very different outputs, tailoring that content to suit a wide range of platforms – from Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles, to Apple News and Snapchat. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6784/ECONOMIST.jpg" alt="economist microservice integration" width="800" height="450"></p> <p>This approach, lead by CTO Mark Brincat, means that the organisation can react quickly to new opportunities and, importantly, can <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68313-marketing-attribution-how-many-are-actually-doing-it/">measure the effectiveness of each new channel</a> before deciding if it’s of value to the organisation.</p> <p>The Economist is of course a subscription-based model so it’s interesting to see how they’re engaging with channels that might not be the immediately obvious choices. The media organisation has reported significant success in targeting news to Snapchat and has also created a bite-sized news service known as ‘Espresso’ to target audiences with an appetite for The Economist coverage, but little time on their hands.</p> <h3>William Hill Labs</h3> <p>The purpose of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67093-lessons-from-william-hill-adapting-to-modern-customers-in-a-traditional-industry/">WHLabs Accelerator</a> is to identify and develop technology innovations for the gambling and gaming industry that deliver new and exciting customer experiences. WHLabs is a highly innovative digital division that exposes system APIs to third parties so that they can develop their own applications using William Hill data. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6785/whill_labs.jpg" alt="william hill labs" width="615" height="384"></p> <p>The UK bookmaker recently ran an incubator competition encouraging development teams to submit innovative application ideas that made use of detailed betting and pricing data. </p> <p>Winner <a href="https://developer.williamhill.com/betgame-winner-william-hill%E2%80%99s-industry-first-accelerator-programme">BetGame</a> now has WHLabs’ support in bringing its new betting product to market, while William Hill – always on the lookout for the latest innovations – has enjoyed the advantage of working with some of the latest innovations and most pioneering start-ups</p> <p>By choosing to open up its services to developer partners, William Hill has paved the way for innovative applications and experiments. </p> <h3>Strava</h3> <p>Strava is used to collect exercise data – predominantly from users’ cycling and running activity. Via the application programming interface (API) you can download, analyse, and manipulate your data in far more depth than is possible using the online tools Strava provides.   </p> <p>This has encouraged integration with fitness trackers and health kit applications, along with highly innovative use cases such as 3D video recreations of your cycling experiences with the relive.cc application.</p> <p>By opening-up this data, Strava is enabling third parties to add value to their services in ways that go beyond the capabilities and competencies of Strava’s core business.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6786/strava.jpg" alt="strava api" width="615" height="503"></p> <p>The above is a screenshot from a very basic app that uses data from the Strava API. The Predict My Ride app (disclosure: built by my digital agency and consultancy Inviqa<a href="https://inviqa.com/blog/predict-my-ride-building-scala-cycling-app-scratch"> as part of a training exercise</a>) uses an individual’s data from Strava to show how long it would take them to complete the Tour de France (or any other route of their choosing). </p> <p>This is a very simple example but it shows the ease with which brands can effortlessly extend their value to users through third-party channels and applications.</p> <h3>Royal Mail</h3> <p>The Royal Mail collects a great deal of data in its day-to-day operation. One such dataset is its redirections database which is used by customers to automatically re-route their post when moving house. </p> <p>Recently the Royal Mail opened up this data for an online tool that allows users to <a href="http://www.royalmail.com/redirection-moving-map">visualise migration across the country</a> – a unique use of the dataset that gave an interesting perspective on what redirections really mean, along with a nice viral tool that reminded people of this all-important Royal Mail service.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6787/royal_mail.png" alt="royal mail map" width="615" height="288"></p> <p><em>This interactive redirection-moving-map uses Royal Mail content</em></p> <h3>What to consider when opening your content</h3> <p>As businesses race to reach new audiences on new devices in a cost-effective way that carries minimal risk, it’s fascinating to see how companies are innovating with APIs to expose their content to new content-consumers – from health trackers to smart fridges.</p> <p>The end goal, of course, is to monetise content across these channels, which is particularly tricky with the likes of news aggregation platforms. This has lead to some high-profile experiments, <a href="https://digiday.com/media/guardian-pulls-facebooks-instant-articles-apple-news/">as well as exits</a>, from platforms such as Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. </p> <p>Most of these exits, however, are simply a sign of brands refocusing their efforts towards other channels where media organisations can better serve their strategic goals. But how that success is measured will of course differ per channel. The Economist’s focus for Snapchat, for example, might be more about attracting a new generation of readers than generating ad views.</p> <p>What’s clear is that this is a fast-evolving marketplace where the simplicity of the mobile-tablet-desktop model no longer applies. Content providers need to be ready to react and experiment with new channels and consumers. </p> <p>But equally they need to be ready to measure and disengage from those channels that are not helping them achieve their business goals.</p> <p><em><strong>Econsultancy subscribers can download the following reports:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/implementing-content-strategy-digital-best-practice/">Implementing content strategy: Digital best practice</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4147 2017-05-02T12:45:00+01:00 2017-05-02T12:45:00+01:00 Social Media Best Practice Guide <p>According to research by GlobalWebindex, <strong>93% of internet users have at least one social media account</strong>. With social media touching so many areas of an organisation, the process of getting social media right has never been more important.</p> <p>This <strong>Social Media Best Practice Guide</strong> contains actionable, real-world insight with detailed explanations to help you start and improve your performance on social media platforms.</p> <p>In order to enable you to quickly access the information you need to start improving your marketing efforts, the guide is available as two individual reports:</p> <h3><strong>1. <a title="Social Media Strategy Best Practice Guide" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-strategy-best-practice-guide/">Social Media Strategy Best Practice Guide</a></strong></h3> <p>The aim of this research is to identify <strong>best practice approaches, techniques, measurement considerations, challenges and opportunities for creating your social media strategy.</strong></p> <p>As social media platforms continue to evolve at a rapid rate we also cover some of the exciting developments taking place in social media.</p> <h3><strong>2. <a title="Social Media Platforms Overview" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-platforms-overview/">Social Media Platforms Overview</a></strong></h3> <p><strong>We've updated our social media platforms overview guide in 2017</strong> to account for the rapid developments occurring in this space. This report's purpose is to provide <strong>a snapshot of the major social media platforms and the most pressing considerations for marketers looking to generate the most value from social media</strong>.</p> <p>It provides a summary of the main features of these platforms, and outlines some of the options available to marketers when developing a paid, owned and earned strategic approach to social media marketing and communications.</p> <p>From Snapchat Lenses and Geofilters and Facebook's latest innovations to Live Video, Augmented Reality and Chatbots, our 2017 edition will ensure that you're up to date with the latest platform trends.</p> <p>Throughout both reports, we bring you <strong>examples of how companies are using social media in different ways, as well as insights from companies interviewed</strong> specifically for these guides.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_IhT9S2YEyY?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h2>Methodology</h2> <p>The methodology involved two main phases:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Phase 1:</strong> Desk research to identify relevant issues, examples and models.</li> <li> <strong>Phase 2:</strong> A series of in-depth interviews (20 interviews in total) with a range of senior digital and non-digital marketers, communications leads and social media strategists. Interviewees for the research covered sectors as diverse as aerospace, retail, hospitality, public sector (including government), SaaS, FMCG, non-profit, agency, financial services and media.</li> </ul> <h2>Lead author</h2> <p>The lead author for our social media best practice guides is <strong>Michelle Goodall</strong>, an experienced consultant. She has more than 17 years’ B2C and B2B experience client and agency-side, providing digital transformation and social media strategy advice and support.</p> <p>She has worked with a wide range of clients, including London2012, BBC, Direct Line Group, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Barclays Bank, Coca Cola, Unilever, US Embassy, and many others.</p> <p>Michelle is a trainer and consultant for Econsultancy and can generally be found curating things that smart people write / make / do and getting to grips with Peach and other peripheral / transformative / game-changing technologies for her clients.</p> <h2>Contributors</h2> <p>The author and Econsultancy wish to extend sincere thanks to the following respected professionals who have contributed to the report:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Richard Bagnall</strong> – CEO, PRIME Research UK &amp; SVP PRIME Research Europe</li> <li> <strong>Vikki Chowney</strong> – Director of Content &amp; Publishing Strategies, H+K Strategies</li> <li> <strong>Sarah Coggins</strong> – VP, PR and Social Media, Virgin Atlantic</li> <li> <strong>Raluca Efford</strong> – Head of Digital and Social Media Marketing, Direct Line Group</li> <li> <strong>Marisol Grandon</strong> – Head of Creative Content, The Department for International Development (DFID)</li> <li> <strong>Katie McDermott</strong> – Marketing Director, Gourmet Burger Kitchen</li> <li> <strong>Will McInnes</strong> – Chief Marketing Officer, Brandwatch</li> <li> <strong>Kerry Taylor</strong> – Senior Vice President Director of Television, MTV Networks</li> <li> <strong>Guy Stephens</strong> – Social Customer Care Consultant, IBM</li> <li> <strong>Stephen Waddington</strong> – Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum</li> <li> <strong>Scott Wilkinson</strong> – Head of Brand, Acquisitions and Digital, Virgin Media Business</li> <li> <strong>Tom Barker</strong> – Head of Digital, National Trust</li> <li> <strong>Rachel Miller</strong> – CEO, IC Crowd</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4148 2017-05-02T12:45:00+01:00 2017-05-02T12:45:00+01:00 Social Media Platforms Overview <p>Part of our <a title="Social Media Best Practice Guide" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide/">Social Media Best Practice Guide bundle</a>,<strong> we've updated and refreshed this report for 2017</strong> to reflect on the latest trends and to provide <strong>a snapshot of the major social media platforms and the most pressing considerations for marketers looking to generate the most value from social media</strong>, as well as what to consider when making the business case for social media platforms.</p> <p>From Snapchat Lenses and Geofilters and authentic content such as Live Video to the opportunities of augemented reality and chatbots in social media, we've got the latest trends covered in this 2017 edition of Econsultancy's social platforms overview. </p> <p>The report provides a summary of the main features of social media platforms, and outlines some of the options available to marketers when developing a paid, owned and earned strategic approach to social media marketing and communications.</p> <p>Throughout the report, we bring you <strong>examples of how companies are using social media in different ways, as well as insights from companies interviewed</strong> specifically for this guide.</p> <p>For more details on <strong>best practice approaches, techniques, challenges and opportunities for creating your social media strategy</strong>, read the complementary <strong><a title="Social Media Strategy Best Practice Guide" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-strategy-best-practice-guide/">Social Media Strategy Best Practice Guide</a></strong>.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_IhT9S2YEyY?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h2>Methodology</h2> <p>The methodology involved two main phases:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Phase 1:</strong> Desk research to identify relevant issues, examples and models.</li> <li> <strong>Phase 2:</strong> A series of in-depth interviews (20 interviews in total) with a range of senior digital and non-digital marketers, communications leads and social media strategists. Interviewees for the research covered sectors as diverse as aerospace, retail, hospitality, public sector (including government), SaaS, FMCG, non-profit, agency, financial services and media.</li> </ul> <h2>Lead author</h2> <p>The lead author for our social media best practice guides is <strong>Michelle Goodall</strong>, an experienced consultant. She has more than 17 years’ B2C and B2B experience client and agency-side, providing digital transformation and social media strategy advice and support.</p> <p>She has worked with a wide range of clients, including London2012, BBC, Direct Line Group, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Barclays Bank, Coca Cola, Unilever, US Embassy, and many others.</p> <p>Michelle is a trainer and consultant for Econsultancy and can generally be found curating things that smart people write / make / do and getting to grips with Peach and other peripheral / transformative / game-changing technologies for her clients.</p> <h2>Contributors</h2> <p>The author and Econsultancy wish to extend sincere thanks to the following respected professionals who have contributed to the report:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Vikki Chowney</strong> – Director of Content &amp; Publishing Strategies, H+K Strategies</li> <li> <strong>Marisol Grandon</strong> – Head of Creative Content, The Department for International Development (DFID)</li> <li> <strong>Will McInnes</strong> – Chief Marketing Officer, Brandwatch</li> <li> <strong>Kerry Taylor</strong> – Senior Vice President Director of Television, MTV Networks</li> <li> <strong>Tom Barker</strong> – Head of Digital, National Trust</li> <li> <strong>Rachel Miller</strong> – CEO, IC Crowd</li> <li> <strong>Stephen Waddington</strong> – Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum</li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69004 2017-04-18T14:55:00+01:00 2017-04-18T14:55:00+01:00 As Facebook cracks down on a major spam operation, USA Today loses millions of Likes Patricio Robles <p>The social network <a href="https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-security/disrupting-a-major-spam-operation/10154327278540766/">also announced</a> that it disrupted a major spam operation it had been fighting for half a year. According to Facebook, the operation was "made up of inauthentic likes and comments that appear to come from accounts located in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries. We found that most of this activity was generated not through traditional mass account creation methods, but by more sophisticated means that try to mask the fact that the accounts are part of the same coordinated operation. They used tricks to avoid detection, including redirecting their traffic through 'proxies that disguised their location."</p> <p>Facebook believes that the accounts created by the operation, which were still largely dormant, would later have been used to send mass spam to real users.</p> <p>Shabnam Shaik, a member of Facebook's Protect and Care team, explained that "Our systems were able to identify a large portion of this illegitimate activity – and to remove a substantial number of inauthentic likes." He added, "As we remove the rest of the inauthentic likes, we expect that 99% of impacted Pages with more than 10,000 likes will see a drop of less than 3%. None of these likes were the result of paid ads from the affected Pages."</p> <h4>But there apparently was an exception to that: USA Today.</h4> <p>According to social media monitoring platform CrowdTangle, USA Today had more than 15m Likes on Facebook as of last Thursday. By Friday, that figure had dropped to around 10m, and today, USA Today's Facebook Page has well under 10m Likes.</p> <p>As The Daily Caller's Alex Pfeiffer <a href="http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/14/facebook-discovers-major-spam-operation-usa-today-likes-plummet/">observed</a>, based on CrowdTangle's data, "no other major publisher appears to have experienced the same drop."</p> <p>While one might jump to the conclusion that the drop indicates USA Today was somehow involved in an effort to artificially inflate its Like count, that isn't the case. In fact, USA Today parent Gannett <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/14/facebook-breaks-up-fake-account-ring-targeting-publisher-pages/100451010/">reported</a> suspicious account activity to Facebook, which helped spark the social network's crackdown.</p> <p>According to Maribel Wadsworth, Gannett's chief transformation officer, "USA TODAY NETWORK takes great pride in our journalism and the trust our consumers and advertising partners have in us. Since we first brought this issue to Facebook’s attention, we have been in close communication with them and look forward to a swift solution that prevents this illegitimate activity from happening on our Facebook page in the future."</p> <p>There is irony in this story, however. In January, Jamie Motttram, then USA Today's social chief, bragged on Twitter about the growth of the publisher's Facebook Page, noting that it was the "fastest-growing FB page in news."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">The <a href="https://twitter.com/USATODAY">@USATODAY</a> Facebook page passed the 10 million-fans mark! Big milestone for the fastest-growing FB page in news. <a href="https://t.co/ceNeCtcqYM">pic.twitter.com/ceNeCtcqYM</a></p> — Jamie Mottram (@JamieMottram) <a href="https://twitter.com/JamieMottram/status/824991639961747456">January 27, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>The precipitous drop in Likes on the USA Today Facebook Page following Facebook's crackdown suggests that much of that growth was the result of fake account activity, which offers two points publishers active on Facebook might want to mull: </p> <p>1) Clearly, publishers have a limited ability to determine how much of the activity on their Facebook Pages is legitimate, and without Facebook's help, there's little they can do to crack down on bad behavior.</p> <p>2) While Facebook noted that the "illegitimate activity" was in no way related to paid ads, one has to wonder whether investment decisions have been influenced by such activity. After all, publishers are almost certainly influenced by metrics like Likes when determining how much to spend on the social network, directly and indirectly. To the extent that those metrics are inflated, publishers risk increasing spend when it isn't necessarily justified and/or seeing some of their spend go to waste.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68724-marketers-plan-facebook-audits-following-metrics-faux-pas/">Marketers plan Facebook audits after metrics faux pas</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68957 2017-04-18T11:15:00+01:00 2017-04-18T11:15:00+01:00 The future of content is marketplaces, not AI Ben Davis <h4>AI for content generation is a long way off</h4> <p>Though <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68496-10-examples-of-ai-powered-marketing-software/">AI</a> seems to be a trend that is living up to the hype, content generation is one area where its potential impact is perhaps overblown.</p> <p>Yes, deep learning is proven to craft more effective email subject lines and other short calls to action (such as in display advertising) but natural language processing is nowhere near good enough to craft long form copy.</p> <p>Yes, deep learning can be used to <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/20/14022958/ai-image-manipulation-creation-fakes-audio-video">manipulate images and even create convincing new ones</a> (see below), as well as create movie trailers <a href="https://thenextweb.com/insider/2016/09/01/watch-ibm-watson-creates-first-entirely-ai-made-movie-trailer-really-eerie/#.tnw_Z5E40XK8">it seems</a>, but the training of these networks and the 'robot hand-holding' necessary means they are also a long way from proving an autonomous solution.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5400/generated_images.jpg" alt="ai generated images" width="650" height="706"></p> <p><em>Images created by generative networks, <a href="http://www.evolvingai.org/ppgn">via paper</a> by Nguyen A, Clune J, Bengio Y, Dosovitskiy A, Yosinski J</em> </p> <h4>What are content marketplaces?</h4> <p>Content marketplaces are in vogue. They connect businesses with writers, graphic designers, film makers and the like. Though marketplaces are nothing new, the technology they offer is improving and plays a big part in eliminating inefficiencies during large scale content production.</p> <p>One such marketplace is Quill, which specialises in creating what it calls 'primary content', the content that influences consumers at the point of conversion, be it product descriptions or buying guides.</p> <p>Quill's cloud platform automates network management, quality control, production and delivery processes. Work can be viewed and edited in the platform, and APIs can deliver the content to a client's CMS or ecommerce platform. Access to hundreds of freelancers and the automation of bureaucracy such as allocation of tasks and invoicing is what makes this kind of platform a candidate for increasing scale and speed.</p> <p>For companies with thousands of product SKUs, platforms like Quill are a way to achieve well-crafted content quickly.</p> <p>Another notable marketplace is Gigster, this time in engineering. Gigster is a software development service which uses more than 700 freelancers to work on projects for corporate giants such as MasterCard and Airbus. One interesting component of the Gigster service is its use of AI to increase the efficiency of its projects.</p> <p>The company monitors projects to look for patterns that predict bugs or issues with deliverables, assessing activity data across software such as Trello, Slack and GitHub.</p> <p>Gigster ultimately allows its clients to use a blended workforce of inhouse and freelancers, and to develop projects with much greater speed.</p> <h4>Wider workforce trends</h4> <p>Content marketplaces are part of a wider workforce trend for flexible teams that are able to deal with rapid change, as well as create new digital products and services.</p> <p>Though much discussion of digital transformation has focused on the need for companies to create cross-functional internal teams, there are also many benefits of maintaining an external network to assist with task-based work. The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67263-skills-shortage-the-biggest-barrier-to-digital-progress-overtaking-legacy-systems/">digital skills gap</a> has been much publicised and marketplaces allow companies to compete in a competitive jobs market.</p> <p>In Accenture's recent<a href="https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-future-workforce-trends"> research into future workforce trends</a>, 73% of survey respondents said that corporate bureaucracies are stifling productivity and innovation. A large majority (85%) indicated they planned to increase their organization’s use of independent freelance workers over the next year (2017).</p> <p>P&amp;G is one such company that Accenture cites as having recently completed a pilot program using Upwork Enterprise, a freelance management system, with products from the pilot program delivered faster and at lower cost than with conventional methods 60% of the time.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5401/marketplaces.jpg" alt="workforce trends" width="615"></p> <p><em>The spectrum of role-based and task-based work, taken from Accenture's Future Workplace Trends.</em></p> <h4>The dispersed workforce model - Automattic</h4> <p>There are some companies that have taken the marketplace model to its logical conclusion and whose core team of full time workers is dispersed, too, thereby allowing the company to pursue the best employees wherever they live.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.inc.com/glenn-leibowitz/meet-the-ceo-running-a-billion-dollar-company-with-no-offices-or-email.html">an interview on Inc.com,</a> Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and CEO of its parent company Automattic, describes the dispersed nature of its workforce:</p> <p>"Automattic is a totally distributed company, so everyone works from wherever they are in the world. It could be a coffee shop, it could be their home, it could be a co-working space. We hire people regardless of where they are.</p> <p>"We now have folks in just over 40 countries. This has been amazing for the company in that we can attract and retain the best talent without them having to be in New York or San Francisco or one of the traditional tech enters."</p> <p>Part of making this model work is ensuring effective communication between remote workers. Much like Quill and Gigster using cloud platforms for workflow, Automattic avoids email and uses its own blog theme called P2 for internal comms.</p> <p>Mullenweg says "I think email is definitely on its way out, between things like <a href="https://p2theme.com/">P2</a> and Slack... Email just has so many things wrong with it. I've never heard anyone who've said they love email, they want more of it--have you?"</p> <p>He continues, "Imagine if, in your company, instead of email, everyone could post and comment on a blog. Different groups or teams could have their own space on it, but fundamentally everything was tagged and traceable and transparent. That's kind of what P2 looks like." </p> <h4>In summary</h4> <p>There are a number of factors that make freelance and content marketplaces increasingly attractive.</p> <ul> <li>A skills shortage means companies cannot always find the right talent to take on full time.</li> <li>Inhouse teams need flexibility, the ability for the team and its skills to wax and wane as projects come and go.</li> <li>Inhouse teams want to avoid bureaucracy wherever possible, using cloud platforms to cut down on admin.</li> <li>Content is so pervasive now and is still a differentiator for businesses both online and off. Compromising on content quality is not an option.</li> </ul> <p>Expect to hear more from marketplaces such as Quill, Gigster, Catalant and Upwork, as the gig economy enables traditional big corporations to innovate in content and beyond.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68980 2017-04-10T15:00:00+01:00 2017-04-10T15:00:00+01:00 Digital advertising is totally out of control Patricio Robles <p>In the past several weeks, major advertisers and ad agenices have pulled ads from Google and YouTube <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/03/27/google-youtube-ad-boycott/">in a boycott</a> that was sparked by a Times investigation which found that ads from prominent brands were being displayed alongside extremist content. By some estimates, the boycott could cost Google hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.</p> <p>In response, Google has promised change, but the truth of the matter is that the problem appears to be even larger than estimated, as practically everywhere observers look, they are finding examples of offensive content being used to serve ads from major brands.</p> <p>Heat Street, for instance, <a href="https://heatst.com/tech/many-popular-youtube-toy-channels-for-kids-contain-bizarre-graphic-poop-videos/">has detailed</a> how popular toy channels on YouTube targeting parents and children, some with millions of subscribers, are home to bizarre "poop" videos. "The videos feature children, some as old as 10, playing with fake human excrement-sometimes even eating it. Often these videos will wrack up exponentially more views than straight toy videos on the channel," it writes.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5338/weirdyoutubevideo.jpg" alt="" width="619" height="379"></p> <p>One disturbing video published on a YouTube channel with 4.5 million subscribers and run by a family that has had a book published by Hachette "shows two young girls who appear to mock defecate in a toilet and smear themselves in fake poop. One of the girls even throws a realistic-looking stool at the other girl, who catches it and then drops it on the floor."</p> <p>Another channel features even more bizarre and disturbing content, such as a video with the title "POOP EXPLOSION Silicone Baby Doll Poops and Pees Diaper Change Poop Drink and Wet Feeding Baby Video." The channel is run by a school teacher who says she's now making so much money from YouTube that she has stopped making toy dolls, ostensibly to focus on her videos.</p> <p><strong>That money frequently comes from brand advertisers whose ads are displayed with this content.</strong></p> <p>It's not that advertisers are intending to be a piggy bank for YouTubers who produce bizarre poop videos. When Heat Street reached out to Dell and Citibank, whose ads were displayed on some of the disturbing videos it identified in its investigation, Dell explained that it "works with our media partners to indicate what types of sites we'd like to be associated with and which sites to block. Unfortunately these sites are proliferating at an accelerated rate and often slip through the cracks." </p> <p>Citibank offered a slightly different spin, telling Heat Street, "We have a number of policies and procedures in place for our vendors designed to help prevent our advertising from appearing in connection with inappropriate content. In the rare event that an ad appears on a site with inappropriate or offensive content, we demand its immediate removal."</p> <p><strong>The problem for advertisers is that incidences of their ads being displayed with questionable content are anything but "rare."</strong> On platforms like YouTube, it doesn't take much time to find ads appearing with videos that are offensive by any reasonable measure. </p> <p>Take, for example, the countless "prank" videos that have proliferated on Google's crown jewel of video. Many contain content that is objectively violent, sexual, degrading, racist, sexist or just downright disgusting. No brand would reasonably consider this content "brand safe," but that doesn't mean their ads aren't being displayed with it.</p> <p>Unfortunately, while there are almost certainly steps Google and advertisers can take to deal with some of the most egregious examples of brand-unsafe content, there is a more fundamental problem: the incentives for advertisers and content creators in the digital ad market are totally perverse.</p> <p>Whether the industry wants to accept it or not, the digital advertising market is currently in a race to the bottom. Content creators are going to extremes, literally and figuratively, to create content that captures eyeballs because...wait for it...advertisers want eyeballs.</p> <p>To its credit, Google has started to take action. For example, YouTube last week <a href="https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2017/04/introducing-expanded-youtube-partner.html">announced</a> that it will now require content creators to rack up 10,000 views on their channels before those channels can participate in YouTube's partner program, which allows content creators to monetize their videos. But while that will likely help protect content creators from impersonators who steal their content, it's not clear that it will do much to improve the overall YouTube advertising ecosystem. After all, as Heat Street's investigation demonstrated, there are content creators whose videos have generated far more than 10,000 views publishing content that no brand advertiser would see value in.</p> <p>At the end of the day, unless and until advertisers reign in their unhealthy thirst for reach and efficiency at all costs and start <em>forcing</em> content creators and ad platforms to do better, the digital advertising market will continue to be the source of an unpleasant stench and brands will increasingly find that they are on the receiving end of the complaints about it.</p> <p>Fortunately, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68259-are-online-advertisers-wising-up-about-content-quality/">advertisers seem to be wising up about content quality</a> and the YouTube boycott suggests that advertisers may have finally reached a breaking point. But if they expect meaningful change, they will need to continue to put pressure on content creators and digital ad giants like Google because the out of control situation will not be fixed in a matter of weeks or even months.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68650-the-future-of-programmatic-2017-and-beyond/">The future of programmatic: 2017 and beyond</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68972 2017-04-10T13:00:00+01:00 2017-04-10T13:00:00+01:00 Want to do content marketing in FMCG? Here's four things you need to know Nicholas Villani <p>Keeping consumers engaged with your brand ensures that it remains front of mind when those consumers are in a store, about to make an 'impulse' purchase. But how can we do this? It’s no longer good enough to tell people your product is better than the others, instead, you need to demonstrate how it adds value to their lives. One of the best ways to do that is by creating relatable and engaging content.</p> <p>To say <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/content-marketing-digital-marketing-template-files/">content marketing</a> is important for <strong>all</strong> brands right now is a massive understatement. To put this into perspective, in a single day there are 3.5 billion searches on Google and 5 billion videos streamed on YouTube. It is estimated that more than 380 million people using adblockers worldwide, so reaching consumers with engaging content is more important than ever before.</p> <p>The obvious leader in this space is Red Bull, but to compare yourself to a brand who has spent more than a decade positioning themselves as a media provider more than a producer of energy drinks is to ignore the opportunity. What I’m suggesting here is careful consideration about how to use social listening, meticulous planning and clever curation opportunities to engage with your consumers in new, trustworthy and relevant ways.</p> <p>Here are four fundamental principles for an FMCG brands wanting to move to a content-led strategy</p> <p><strong>1. Give them what they want</strong></p> <p>Let’s not create content for the sake of creating content. Consider the 300+ hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute. How do you ensure your content is well thought-out and based on what your consumers care about? The answer to his question is Data!</p> <p>A brilliant FMCG example is Unilever with All Things Hair. By tracking, in real-time, what consumers are searching for in regards to haircare, Unilever have immediate insights to the types of content they know will resonate with their audience. With the average video receiving upwards of a quarter of a million views, it’s a great example of developing content that is tailored to the audience, and it’s far less complicated than you might imagine.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5346/all_things_hair.jpg" alt="all things hair" width="615"></p> <p><em>All Things Hair YouTube channel </em></p> <p>Free tools such as Google Trends, Facebook Audience Insights and Social Mention are super useful and let you explore what consumers are saying about your brand or your category. </p> <p>If it’s your first time using tools like this for insights, then a good place to start is by asking the following questions:</p> <ul> <li>What are my consumers searching for?</li> <li>What platform are they searching on?</li> <li>What are they talking about?</li> <li>Is the sentiment positive or negative?</li> <li>Which platform is the conversation happening on?</li> <li>Are there clear spikes in search volume around specific times of the year?</li> </ul> <p>Another brilliant example is Nestle Toll House, who specialise in baking products. Realising that bakers were slowly being aged out of the category, they needed to find a new way to engage them whilst retaining their core values. By partnering with Ashley Adams, an established food blogger, they created the ‘<a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLag5-QrcetjoHvTfLo9oi29B_FZ5q6bm2">Bake My Day</a>’ series, sharing tips and tricks for the modern cook.</p> <p>By carefully using paid media to promote the channel, they amassed over 17 million views in less than a year. Pretty sweet results!</p> <p><strong>2. Get the role of the platform right</strong></p> <p>It goes without saying but understanding how each platform works is fundamental to success. Remember that advertising on social is considered much more of an intrusion than other digital channels. The first step here is to understand whether your primary reason for using social is for content distribution, CRM, PR or something else altogether.</p> <p>Furthermore, if you are using more than one platform, adapt your creative appropriately. Don’t repurpose content needlessly from Pinterest to Facebook without any consideration of whether it matches the environment. Remember why people are visiting the platform in the first place, then ensure your content is complementary to the experience. </p> <p>Every day in this digital age seems to bring about a new suite of innovative, yet arguably risky channels for marketers to experiment with. For example, Cadbury has recently been a trailblazer by commissioning Snapchat filters. This has allowed them to achieve an otherwise unimaginable 30+ second engagement with their consumers, and in an age where we have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, that must be worth something, right?</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/CadburyUK">@CadburyUK</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/snapchat?src=hash">#snapchat</a> <a href="https://t.co/0jasPMxlIm">pic.twitter.com/0jasPMxlIm</a></p> — Daniel Clayton (@8omb3r) <a href="https://twitter.com/8omb3r/status/774489637133877248">September 10, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>These new platforms are brilliant fun for creatives, but demonstrable ROI is difficult to ascertain. At the end of the day, it’s like having a high-risk product portfolio. If you have the budget and creative capability, then experiment away. Otherwise, I’d strongly advise keeping to the path well-travelled.</p> <p>(Related read: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68955-marriott-uses-snapchat-influencer-campaign-to-target-millennials/">Marriott uses Snapchat influencer campaign to target millennials</a>)</p> <p><strong>3. Order, not chaos</strong></p> <p>Once you have gathered these insights, and you know the type of content that you should produce, it’s important to employ a framework to underpin your publishing plan. Content should only be created with a clear roadmap and measurable KPI’s. Whilst there are several highly valid approaches to this, the 'Hero, Help and Hub' framework developed by YouTube is my preference, even for content that is not specifically video. </p> <ul> <li>Hero – This is the content that should inspire and catch people’s attention. </li> <li>Help – This is content that helps provide answers. It could be cooking tips, life hacks or advice on how to get the most out of the product</li> <li>Hub – This is often the most overlooked, but this is the content you want your customers to subscribe to. This encourages repeat engagement with your brand</li> </ul> <p>Let’s look at an FMCG brand, Ben &amp; Jerry’s. Recently launching their new ‘Cherry Chocolate Garcia’ flavour, this approach is evident. </p> <p>Firstly, they did what any self-respecting FMCG brand would do, they created a 20-second advert, with drool-worthy creative. Designed for digital, it does little more than to introduce the product and make you want it now. This is their Hero content.</p> <p>Secondly, they set out to create several food-porn video recipes that involve the new product. One of which even suggests you need three tubs of the ice cream to achieve! They call it Ice Cream Hacks. I call it Help content.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4RRhRaTdYIo?ecver=2&amp;wmode=transparent" width="640" height="360"></iframe></p> <p>Lastly, and what is effectively a content play for the 'long tail', their Climate Justice series is an episodic, well produced, socially responsible series of videos that correlates climate change with melting ice cream. It’s a stretch creatively, but effective none the less. This is their Hub content that keeps their audience coming back.</p> <p>There are plenty of other examples of FMCG brands using the Hero, Help, Hub framework, as it is a simple yet highly effective way to segment and organise your content strategy.  </p> <p><strong>4. Always-on isn’t always on</strong></p> <p>Let’s get some hard facts straight, always-on marketing is not necessarily going to be the miracle solution for every brand. As much as I champion digital, content marketing, with the odd viral exception, is rarely useful in the awareness phase. By its very nature, content is about creating meaningful moments with your customers when they are the most receptive to your message.</p> <p>Let’s look at the confectionary sector, or more specifically, luxury chocolates. The product cycle is largely seasonal and there are clear seasonal peaks e.g. Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s day. It makes sense for marketers to capitalise on these events, and invest heavily in big, glorious, top of the funnel campaigns that saturate every consumer touchpoint, from TV to shopfront. The desire is to capitalise on the trend and saturate the market with your message.</p> <p>But, this is not about re-allocating your entire TV budget to start a YouTube channel. It’s more important to consider where your consumers are, what they are doing, and fundamentally, your metrics for success.</p> <p>It’s true to say that traditional mediums can be more effective than digital if your KPIs are purely reach-oriented. Arguably, digital is about moving your consumers down the funnel and engaging them in the moments that matter. Let the two work hand-in-hand. Allocate your budget appropriately and understand the role of each channel. It’s also highly unlikely your content is going to go viral, so make sure you are investing properly to promote it through paid media.</p> <p>Most importantly, in the world of social, likes, shares and comments may attribute to positive brand sentiment, but they are not necessarily a proxy for sales.</p> <p>To quote Tamara Schenk <em>"content may be king, but context is queen".</em> </p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68941 2017-03-31T15:00:00+01:00 2017-03-31T15:00:00+01:00 Hollywood's response to digital disruption looks like a flop Patricio Robles <p>Take the major Hollywood movie studios. <a href="http://variety.com/2017/film/news/studios-premium-vod-early-1202013205/">They are reportedly planning</a> to create premium video-on-demand offerings that would allow consumers to watch major motion pictures at home within 45 days of their theatrical releases. In some cases, films would be available to watch at home within weeks of appearing in theaters.</p> <p>There is a catch, however: the studios are reportedly planning to charge $30 to $50 a pop for the privilege.</p> <p>To be sure, there are consumers who are not attached to the Big Screen experience. Going to the movies can be an expensive proposition, especially when you throw in a couple of kids and food. Thanks to growing ownership of large, flat-screen televisions and high-end audio systems, watching a movie at home isn't so bad.</p> <p>But will consumers shell out $30 to $50 to watch a new movie at home when, for as little as $8 a month, they have access to thousands of movies on a service like Netflix? </p> <p>Lest movie studios fall into the trap of believing that comparing Netflix's catalog to new releases is an apples-to-oranges comparison, consider that Netflix <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/netflix-the-monster-thats-eating-hollywood-1490370059">is said to be investing $6bn this year alone</a> on more than 70 original shows. And its original content push isn't just targeting content that would traditionally be distributed on television and cable networks. </p> <p>The company recently struck a deal for a $100m Martin Scorsese-directed gangster flick starring Robert De Niro. The film was originally slated to be produced by Paramount Pictures, but <a href="http://www.indiewire.com/2017/02/martin-scorsese-the-irishman-robert-deniro-netflix-paramount-1201785658/">according to</a> a source that spoke to IndieWire, "Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks."</p> <p>Netflix <a href="https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2017/03/27/100-million-reasons-netflix-is-doubling-down-on-ad.aspx">has also extended its deal</a> with Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions that will see the funny man produce four additional comedy films that will debut exclusively on Netflix. While Sandler's first Netflix movies have not received rave reviews, the company says that his last two were the most-watched Netflix originals ever.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5168/netflix.jpg" alt="netflix adam sandler" width="600" height="200"></p> <p>Given the plethora of original content of all kinds that Netflix is adding and making available to subscribers for a monthly fee that is a fraction of the cost of the Hollywood studio's price point for a single video-on-demand purchase, there's a real question as to just how sensible it is for Hollywood studios to risk upending the theater-first model that it has employed for so long.</p> <p>While that model might not be built to last, the seemingly expensive video-on-demand model it's contemplating would appear to be anything but a sure bet and <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/premium-video-on-demand-the-fallout-1490532073">there are substantial risks</a>.</p> <p>Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, movie studios aren't the only Hollywood players reportedly considering head-scratching plans. Take for example cable network AMC, which is evaluating the possibility of offering a new subscription service that will allow consumers the ability to stream its content.</p> <p>Other cable networks such as HBO are pursuing direct-to-consumer offerings in response to the phenomenon of cord-cutting, but there's a huge caveat with AMC's: to purchase a subscription, consumers would reportedly need to have access to AMC through an existing cable plan and shell out an extra $5 to $7 a month to stream.</p> <p>As one observer <a href="http://www.avclub.com/article/amc-might-be-developing-very-bizarre-streaming-ser-252735">put it</a>, "this could be the dumbest idea the network has had since it canceled Rubicon back in 2010."</p> <h3>Disruption isn't just about distribution</h3> <p>It's hard to blame Hollywood for taking action to deal with the ongoing disruption wrought by the rise of the internet. But the ways that Hollywood seems to be responding to disruption suggests that it's still in denial about an inconvenient truth: the disruption it faces isn't just about distribution.</p> <p>Yes, consumers are demanding the ability to consume content whenever, wherever and however they like, and video-on-demand and streaming services address this demand. But $30 to $50 video-on-demand offerings and streaming services that require subscribers to pay extra on top of an existing paid cable package ignore the fact that consumer expectations around what and how they pay for content have also changed.</p> <p>In other words, Hollywood can't expect to effectively deal with disruption by addressing distribution but ignoring economics. However, that seems to be precisely what it is doing.</p> <p>Not only is this crazy, it's doomed to disappoint.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68946 2017-03-29T13:56:43+01:00 2017-03-29T13:56:43+01:00 What the commodification of (Snapchat) Stories means for marketers Bola Awoniyi <p>Life can come at you fast though, especially when you're in the consumer tech space.</p> <p>In less than 12 months, the Stories format is now prevalent on the Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook apps, thus making the intentions of the largest aggregator of human attention abundantly obvious.</p> <p>However, Facebook is not the only entity to have taken inspiration. Medium’s version of the format, <a href="https://medium.com/the-mission/wtf-is-mediums-new-series-feature-and-what-does-it-mean-for-us-7a267fc5bebb">“Series”</a>, is less than a month old. <a href="http://www.apple.com/uk/clips/">Clips</a>, announced just last week, is Apple’s attempt to also get involved in the space.</p> <p>And although misguided, Twitter’s implementations of <a href="https://thenextweb.com/apps/2016/08/09/twitter-moments-stories/#.tnw_X98BwX7l">Moments</a> and <a href="https://www.recode.net/2016/6/27/12037034/twitter-stickers-feature-like-snapchat-facebook">Stickers</a> were both attempts at competing with the Stories phenomena.</p> <p>With the proliferation of mobile storytelling heading fast towards visual content overlaid with filters and emojis, it begs the question, how should brands respond?</p> <h3>From Feature to Format</h3> <p>There is no doubt that what was once an exclusive part of Snapchat is now a part of a growing numbers of apps and platforms where consumers spend the bulk of their time. </p> <p>Whether or not Facebook / Instagram were underhand in imitating the feature is now irrelevant; it's now a format that hundreds of millions are going to be exposed to in the coming months. With that change should follow a change of tack for marketers and others interested in getting the attention of consumers.</p> <p>It no longer makes sense to avoid Stories because your customer is not on Snapchat. Stories is going to be a commonplace feature, with consumers likely trying it out on multiple platforms and, more importantly, seeing how others use the format too.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5113/facebook_stories.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="441"></p> <p>It is already <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/26/camera-is-the-new-keyboard/">being described as the new news feed</a>, which may not be far from the truth if users flock to the format on Facebook in the same way users have done on Instagram (There are now as many people using Stories on Instagram as there are using the entire Snapchat app).</p> <p>If this is truly the case, marketers that are not experienced in the format, should start building the expertise, lest they get left behind.</p> <h3>Stories is now a language marketers need to learn</h3> <p>The nuts and bolts of a Story are mostly the same, regardless of which app you are using:</p> <ul> <li>Video and picture content presented (mostly) vertically, completely natural in a smartphone-driven world.</li> <li>Stories are told in chronological order, rather than the reverse chronology of the old Twitter timeline / Instagram feed, or the algorithmic feed made popular by Facebook.</li> <li>Images are normally overlaid with text, music, filters, emojis and other things. The assortment of options is unique to each platform for the time being, but whether that changes or not remains to be seen.</li> </ul> <p>This combination of elements, in particular the camera function, is uniquely enabled by smartphones, which the creators and imitators of the formats have more than embraced. </p> <p>Snap CEO Evan Spiegel:</p> <blockquote> <p>In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones.</p> </blockquote> <p>Messenger Day product manager, Tony Leach:</p> <blockquote> <p>We like to think of the camera as the new keyboard.</p> </blockquote> <p>This marks a significant change from the content currently being posted on social feeds. Most of this content is strictly one format: Links, text, pictures, videos, that stand side by side in contained units.</p> <p>What the format of Stories has created is a mobile-friendly canvas for users to create experiences where pictures, videos, sounds, words and more can come together. This will require even more creativity from marketers on a more frequent basis, if they are going to use Stories as a format effectively.</p> <h3>Yet another format to add to the mix</h3> <p>However, just because Stories is “the new news feed”, that doesn’t mean the feed format is obsolete.</p> <p>While Stories is currently being used to tie together the in-between moments that make up a user’s daily narrative, the feed / timeline is just as important in its role of showing off the best moments a user has to offer; hero content, if you will.</p> <p>On top of this, despite Zuckerberg’s clear eye for products and features that garner consumer attention, to date his company has only created significant revenue from feed-based products.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmessenger%2Fvideos%2F1227636360689375%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>As social platforms continuously seek to find the optimal balance between showing users content from friends and family vs. brands vs. professional content producers, it is probably safe to assume that marketers will still need to continue creating engaging content for the feed, as well as content for their Stories.</p> <p>Consequently, as the Stories format gains adoption, brands will have to make real decisions about how to distribute resources among the different formats and platforms they use for social media.</p> <h3>Don’t forget to think about ads too</h3> <p>It goes without saying that at some point, marketers will need to take the ad formats that go in between each story seriously, probably sooner rather than later.</p> <p>Thus far, <a href="https://www.snapchat.com/ads/snap-ads">such ads on Snapchat</a> can only be executed through <a href="https://www.snapchat.com/ads/partners">the use of a Snapchat partner</a>, while <a href="https://business.instagram.com/blog/instagram-stories-available-globally/">Instagram only made global advertising for Stories available</a> at the beginning of March. As the format increases in popularity, you can guarantee Facebook will switch on ads for its other properties too.</p> <p>Advertising creative in this format will be markably different to ads for other formats, which only adds to the learning curve marketers will need to go through.</p> <p>Marketers will be best served to start experimenting on this in small pockets on Instagram as soon as possible (and Snapchat if you have the budget), to ensure that their brand will be in the best position to capitalise when the time is right.</p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>While Stories being copied may be problematic for Snapchat, it also puts the onus on marketers to get to grips with yet another format.</p> <p>It may take some time for the format to take off, but every second that your brand is not making these stories, it’s another second your competitor could be gaining valuable experience and marketshare at your expense.</p> <p>That said, as Facebook has clearly shown, sometimes there is nothing wrong with waiting to see how things go, before having the audacity to copy well.</p>