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The future of content: 6 opportunities for creative marketers in a new world.

Guides & Inspiration • Written by Christie Poulos, Client Director - ANZ

What kind of omelette will be made from the smashed eggs that is 2020? I’m turning the frown upside down and looking for the upside in the pandemonium that has upended the marketing, advertising and creative industries this year.

Here I predict some opportunities for creative marketers to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Opportunity 1: Shrinking budgets leads to faster, more flexible and creative outcomes for marketers.

“Shrinking” is a word which nobody likes attached to “budgets”. To “waistlines” yes, “budgets” no. Like it or not, it’s clear that most businesses will have less, rather than more money to put into their marketing efforts in the months to come. It’s also going to be much harder to justify the costs that were being charged and the amount of time being taken to produce campaigns before the pandemic hit.

At first glance, this feels like bad news. But there is a silver lining! Financial pressure will force a chain reaction resulting in increased speed, more flexibility and creativity through problem solving and constraint. Pressure + dirt = diamonds (or something like that, I’m no geologist).

In the advertising and marketing industry, many agencies will choose (or be forced to) focus on what they’re really great at. For example, some will choose to focus on strategy and creative thinking, outsourcing execution and production to partners and technology platforms who can help them scale.

At a macro level, this means that we’ll see many clients released from arrangements tying them to traditional, and sometimes outdated approaches to creativity and production. Technology that enables more agile and flexible ways of working will be embraced, giving clients the ability to play the market and form flexible, virtual teams of specialist thinkers and doers, anywhere in the world. All of this will allow us to achieve things we never thought possible.

What this looks like on a micro level is that clients and production teams will start to collaborate in different, more efficient ways:

  • Important meetings and collaborative processes will continue to happen via video conferencing.
  • Clients will attend shoots and VO sessions via technology, if at all, making remote production even easier than before.
  • Budget and time limitations will lead to tighter pre-production planning, faster production and more efficient approval processes.
  • I also expect (hope?) there will be more trust and autonomy allowing clients to move forward and test new marketing approaches, working with smaller stakeholder groups.
Video feedback Genero platform

Collaborative tools like Genero make remote production easier.

Opportunity 2: Technology will enable connection with a rapidly expanding global talent pool.

As businesses fold, amalgamate and rationalise, we’re going to see more, talented freelance and independent creatives enter the global talent pool. Many of them will love the new found freedom and flexibility this affords them.

Meanwhile, remote ways of working are becoming embedded in the day to day, forming the crucial foundation for better collaboration with internal and external teams, regardless of location.

And reduced agency and in-house teams will be looking for efficiencies and scale.

All of the above is creating the perfect conditions for a revolution in the way that clients and creatives meet, collaborate and deliver excellent work.

Add in widely available technology like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Google Docs and specialist creative technology platforms like Adobe Creative Cloud and Genero – which enable clients to brief, commission and collaborate with creatives in any part of the world – these new ways of working become not just possible, but effortless.

Technology has already driven obvious improvements in the media side of things, with programmatic, DCOs and other ad tech platforms, and I’m now seeing clients becoming more adept at using tech to manage creative and production remotely, enabling them to work with a more diverse selection of creative teams in different markets, not necessarily on their doorstep. 

Person managing film production remotely.

Managing shoots remotely.

Opportunity 3: Culture collides with circumstance to make way for new conversations and stories.

We’re undergoing one of the biggest periods of change in our lifetimes, spurred on by the global pandemic, and punctuated by equally huge cultural issues.

Global movements like #metoo and #blacklivesmatter are permeating every part of society; our private conversations, social feeds, and the way that brands speak and behave are changing.

Creative marketers will seize the opportunity to join these global conversations, seeking to make meaningful, authentic and impactful contributions to the lives of their customers.

Creating for and reacting appropriately to cultural moments and events will become more and more important to consumers. They will expect to see their favourite brands interpret and respond to real-world events with sensitivity, empathy and bravery, and most importantly authenticity.

Consequently, ‘hitting the right tone’ will join the boardroom bingo as marketers grapple with the complexities of talking about issues bigger than their brand. Collaborating with diverse creative voices will become more important than ever, and thankfully easier thanks to tech platforms providing access to global networks of creators and influencers. 

We’re seeing clients fine tuning their communications to reflect the times we live in: offering more empathy in messaging, showing diversity in the representation of their staff and customers, even finding and creating appropriate imagery and iconography which speak to the social distancing/hygiene measures that now ‘feel right’ to the majority of us.

Skittles Pride Pack

Opportunity 4: Rapid change rewires a more experimental mindset. Brands continue to explore new products and services, new ways to communicate and engage.

Here comes the ‘P’ word! ‘Prognosticate’. Just kidding, it’s ‘Pivot!’

We’ve seen our favourite restaurants flip into home delivery and wholesale services, new cult products cropping up overnight using digital channels to bypass traditional distribution by selling direct to consumers, even the most traditional bricks and mortar retail brands are being forced into digital transformation hyperdrive to save their sales.

Meanwhile, many creative marketers have been forced to pause activities and execution; finally getting the time and headspace to think and plan, and consider new ways of doing things, rather than going through the paces of the everyday. 

Will we come out of this phase with a more experimental mindset and approach? Less afraid to try and taste? We hope so!

For example, with major events off the table, or seriously curtailed, we’re already seeing many events, and sponsors finding new ways to create engaging experiences and activate their sporting, entertainment and industry partnerships.

Expect to see a rise in augmented and virtual reality creative solutions to deliver purely remote experiences. And exciting new approaches which blend real life tangible assets with virtual, shared experiences.

Opportunity 5: A new production value prioritising authentic connections over empty gloss will emerge.

Intimate and transparent content, forged during lockdown necessity, is likely to remain on the creative menu. And marketers will be seeking to generate maximum authentic connections through appropriate production values.

Inspiration will come from our audiences of course who are pumping out hours of their own content on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. 

As a result, we’re seeing the glossy digerati, with mainstream reach, given a run for their money by micro-influencers who have growing and dedicated niche audiences. 

Paradoxically we’re seeing huge stars climb down a rung or two to broadcast from their home offices. Long live John Krasinski’s SGN bringing Some Good News to us in our darkest hours!

Is this actual heaven for those of us who love peering into stranger’s homes and checking out their artwork and books?

Live content is on the rise too, no surprise, as we become more used to the technology which delivers it and the unscripted, unpolished, immediate nature of live.

Opportunity 6:  Brands have an increasing role to play in creating mental and emotional wellbeing for their consumers.

In the coming months, as many of us are still hovering around the lower half of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there is an opportunity for creative marketers to connect with their customers within deeper emotive themes, offering a sense of physical and social security.

Fitbit's emotive campaign recognising ‘Homebound Heroes’ during COVID-19.

Functional content will increase, as brands begin telling customers how to safely use their product or service, like going to the movies, shopping in their stores, even air travel. 

On the flip side, for many marketers, the opportunity is to create experiences and content which give their audiences respite from the real world: with fun, escapism and everyday luxury popular ways to connect.

For many, when job security is in question, education, mentorship and upskilling will be top of their list, and many brands are well positioned to share valuable learning content and resources with their audiences.

There’s no doubt that this has been a time of much disruption and destruction, but from crisis comes opportunity. I’m looking forward to my very small part in helping clients, agencies and creatives navigate the new world to achieve some really amazing things together.

This article was first published as an opinion piece in AdNews.

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