How to be more creative: advice on audience building, content marketing and localised video

WatchMojo founder, Ashkan Karbasfrooshan

WPP’s boss Sir Martin Sorrell once said, “the definition of creativity needs to change” but how? At YouTube’s Space in London, video content producer WatchMojo, in association with The Drum, gathered inspirational speakers from various companies to talk about how marketers can learn from their experiences and unique approaches to content.

With data on the rise and marketers experimenting with new ways of reaching consumers, where does creativity fit in and what does being creative actually mean?

Below are the main highlights of the day.

Want to be more creative? Embrace your inner child

In his talk on why the marketing industry is lacking in creativity, Ben Jones, former CTO of AKQA, spoke about how the education system is largely to blame. It was invented to create the same people every time, which to him is fundamentally wrong.

“Would you take a whole field of organic vegetables and treat them all in exactly the same way? No. The soil has to be different for every type of vegetable just as much as people do too,” he said.

Jones then referred to a creativity study for NASA, created by author and general systems scientist, George Land, which shows the flaws in our current education system, and why we need new leaders and problem-solvers – not academics.

“If you go to space and something goes wrong with your engine, you must be creative to work out what to do. [Land] found only 2% of adults who could pass this test. But [when the same test was applied to] a group of three to five-year-olds, 98% of the children passed it.

“How do we find these new types of people? I believe it's about being a kid. The first thing everyone needs to harness is ultimate levels of naivety. Naivety opens up new doors and chapters by asking stupid questions,” he said.

Watch time is more powerful than completion rate

A commonly debated issue is whether watch time is more important than completion rate when it comes to viewing content. For Google USA’s creative director, Kim Snow, content creators need to give the audience a reason to watch. She encouraged creatives to “create something different and compare them” even if it goes against their natural impulses. Sometimes the key takeaway can be huge – as she saw for herself in an ad experiment on the new Bridget Jones’s Baby movie.

“The studio wanted the movie to target millennials but millennials never saw the first movie - so how were they going to get them to really like it? One creative director wanted to reveal a full scene in an ad while the other creative director thought he was nuts.

“But it worked. The ad ran for a little over two-and-a-half minutes and most people watched it for about a minute-and-a-half. The fact that people were given a choice to watch the whole scene is a huge factor and has become a key learning for us,” she explained.

Know where you stand with your audience

Poet and soon-to-be astronaut, Hussain Manawer, spoke about his journey from working at his first job at Primark to creating light-hearted comedic videos and getting 200,000 hits on YouTube. He decided to make videos with more meaningful content but the change in direction did not provide the same form of reception he anticipated.

“I moved more into things I care about, such as mental health and the refugee crisis. But what I started to notice was a big drop in viewers. People were more interested in seeing me eat goat’s cheese rather than seeing me spend 24 hours in a refugee camp. I had to try and understand where I stood with my audience. I decided to get my ideas onto other platforms and did a video with Al-Jazeera and that was my first video that got two million hits. Some videos got half a million views while others only got 500. It showed me, it's how you talk and connect with people,” he said.

Localising video content – think globally but act locally

Montreal-based video content producer, WatchMojo, has been creating and curating digital videos on YouTube for the past 11 years. With just under 17 million subscribers, the company is increasingly letting advertisers take advantage of their audience by working alongside them to create branded content.

But now WatchMojo will be launching in the UK. What will be some of the challenges in localising content? According to WatchMojo founder, Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, small touches make all the difference.

“We recognise that even something like an accent makes a big difference when you tune in. We take a lot of our videos that may have a global appeal, like 10 things to do in Las Vegas or 10 things to do inAustralia and still change the accent to make it more appealing.

“We want to go deeper and cover things that might be locally or nationally of interest in the UK and not necessarily global. I think Canadians are good at thinking globally but acting locally. We think of these little details to make it successful,” he said.

Find out what industry experts in marketing had to say when asked their views about the impact of technology on creativity here.

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