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The content landscape has changed and brands need to adapt – but how?

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Dentsu puts forward how brands need to adapt to continue growing

The last 12 months have accelerated many changes in content generation that were already well under way. As a result, 85% of marketers know they need to transform for the long term to align with the current climate. But how?

The content landscape has been experiencing changes that have been bubbling below the surface for a number of years, only to be escalated by Covid-19 and shoot rapidly straight to the attention of chief marketers. Many of these changes are not transient or knee-jerk reactions to the global pandemic, and marketers are realizing that they need to adapt their strategies to continue to engage their markets and deliver the required ROI. By exploring the current challenges faced by the marketing sector that these changes have instigated, we can address what action can be taken so that brands’ approach to content creation can reflect the new content landscape of 2021.

The domination of digital

The trend for digitization has been under way for some time. Faster and better internet connections, smartphones and social media have all been instrumental in driving an ‘always on’ culture that can connect us to individuals across the globe in a matter of seconds. Generation Z has grown up in a digital-first world, where online communication and media is ingrained, creating a demographic whose expectations have shifted from the generations before.

As the world went into lockdown in 2020, digital provided the means for maintaining our daily activity, whether business, social or leisure. Most in-person transactions moved online and contributed to an unprecedented rate of e-commerce growth. McKinsey highlighted this growth in its research The Quickening 2020, revealing that the US experienced ten years’ worth of e-commerce penetration growth within just three months. This spike in e-commerce presented challenges for marketers. Our latest research revealed that 75% of marketers felt that Covid-19 had created bottlenecks in their organization due to an increased demand for e-commerce content.

With business capability in online activity established, consumer proficiency advanced and lingering uncertainty about resuming our everyday in-person activity, this digital domination is a change here to stay, meaning brands need a solution to fulfil the increasing demand.

Mastering multiple touchpoints

This acceleration in digital communication has multiplied the touchpoints where brands have the opportunity to engage with their target markets. No longer are brand interactions simply finite and transactional; they are experiential and can intertwine with consumers’ daily lives.

Consumers are identifying with brands whose values align with their own and whose interactions are meaningful, personal and authentic. Achieving this level of personalized engagement while retaining brand consistency is proving increasingly demanding. Our research found that 88% of marketers identified with the importance of brand consistency in marketing, but 84% saw content generation as a challenge.

Demonstrating relevance

With the expectation of a personalized experience comes the need to reflect the current climate and demonstrate relevance. During the pandemic, the rapid and often significant changes to our lives presented a further time- and resource-draining obstacle. 85% of marketers surveyed reported that Covid-19 had increased the importance of creating content quickly. However, 72% were unable to create enough content to meet this demand. Worryingly for brands, with audience expectation remaining high, those who do not have the agility to respond to market changes face disengagement or, worse, disapproval.

Innovation and AI

The events of 2020 compelled marketers to evaluate their strategies in the face of sudden and significant change and future uncertainty. Instead of choosing the safe option and sticking with tried and tested options, many chief marketers chose to champion the big idea, seeking creativity and innovation to find a point of difference and drive growth, as detailed in Isobar’s survey CX, ‘Creative Experience in the age of Covid-19, 2020’.

This approach aligned well with the strides forward being made in the use of AI, VR and AR. We see the efficiency of AI enabling chatbots to assist with more and more complex e-commerce queries. Meanwhile, the creativity of AR and VR has allowed touch-free, digital worlds to be spectacularly brought to life with the latest in light technology. Marketers now have the tools to connect more imaginatively, more efficiently and more memorably with their audience. This opportunity for enhancing engagement with the use of innovative technology is widely recognized, with 83% of marketers questioned believing the use of AI would help better manage their brand content in future.

A need to evolve from the traditional

As the world returns to a closer sense of normality, these advances in digital domination and innovative technology, combined with an ever-increasing demand for ubiquitous interaction via personalized, authentic and relevant content, demand more from marketers than ever before. Still aiming to retain brand consistency and quality in this content landscape, brands must adapt to be more agile and efficient while also remaining within their budget constraints.

For traditional marketing departments and agencies that have grown organically to meet demand, delivering a seamless experience that moulds perfectly with the current climate is challenging. In our survey, marketing efficiencies was a top concern for 62% of our marketers. However, with many marketing departments made up of siloed agencies and processes, content production can be inefficient and global visibility and control limited. Furthermore, with disconnected platforms that are not cloud-enabled, responding to rapid cultural shifts while ensuring high quality and brand consistency is difficult.

But at Dentsu, we believe there does not need to be a trade-off between quality, consistency, agility and scale.

By addressing these weaknesses in the traditional marketing set-up, brands can stride ahead to produce content that resonates with their audience and delivers ROI.

A new approach to content generation

As we emerge from the pandemic with these challenges front and center, a new marketing agency model has emerged. Recognizing the challenges of today’s climate, these models are purpose-built and customized to its demands. Content providers are connected using the latest technology, and content generation and distribution are managed via one centralized solution.

Dentsu built upon this emerging agency model to develop its solution, Content Symphony. With two main components – the Production Services and the Platform – this customized content generation solution is able to address each of the challenges in today’s content landscape.

The Production Services leverage a right-shoring model to access an extensive network of global talent of 30 studios and over 2,000 artists, maximizing quality in delivery and variance for local relevance. Meanwhile, the centralized connection via Content Symphony ensures adherence to a brand’s ‘big organizing idea’ or theme to retain global brand consistency.

The Platform is a cloud-first, integrated set of AI-enabled tools where brands can centralize workflows and asset management. By streamlining processes, efficiency will be improved while the visibility provided through the centralized platform further supports brand consistency.

Content Symphony provides an end-to-end solution, from the management of content creation to its distribution and real-time aggregated performance data analysis and reporting. By organizing all elements of the content generation process through one centralized platform, Content Symphony can refute the need to compromise between quality and scale and support brands in maintaining a high standard of consistent content while delivering to today’s more challenging demands.

The future

Surviving a difficult year has forced many businesses to re-evaluate strategy and process. We all expect the future to be different, and it is widely recognized that change is necessary to remain relevant. The content landscape has radically shifted, and now is the time to adapt and align with it or risk losing engagement. With digital technology and innovation providing us with tools to make these changes, marketers can rise to the challenge and make an impact in this new content landscape.

Click here to learn more about how Content Symphony can support your content generation needs in today’s climate.

Lydda Vasquez is Content Symphony global director of client services at Dentsu.

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