Seven interactive content trends

Posted by: Dominic Mills, CMA Consulting Editor

Genius inventions, working breakfasts. Coffee and croissants to fuel the body, talks and presentations to fuel the spirit. Plus you get to impress your colleagues by returning to the office with some whizzy ideas and a brain firing on all cylinders. 

At our most recent breakfast our speakers took a look at the engaging ways brands can use content to bring in audiences and hold their attention through digital channels.

CMA ‘breakfasters' heard presentations from Mark Brill, managing partner of social/mobile agency Brand Emotivity; Neil Robbins, managing director of SEO specialists Silverbean; and Kirsty Hunter, managing director of transmedia entertainment producer The Project Factory.

If there was an overall theme, it was ‘solve the client's business problem.' With the proliferation of channels at the disposal of content marketers, panellists advised that the key was to identify the core problem the client needed to solve, and then use the appropriate channels.

So here, in no particular order, are the CMA's seven breakfast takeaways on interactive content.

1. Appropriate content for the appropriate channel
The world is moving to mobile, notes Brill. But consumers don't seek out brand content on mobile - 80% of brand apps are downloaded less than 1,000 times - unless it's games or videos.

So, he says, "don't force consumers where they don't want to go. Adapt your content for mobile." ASOS's app Fashion Up plays to mobile's strengths by using mostly pictures and minimising text. Each issue updates automatically so it's constantly refreshed.

2. Get the audience to participate
Five-nights-a-week  Dutch TV soap Good Times, Bad Times had two problems: one, audiences were in decline; and two, it needed to build anticipation between the end of the summer season and the start of the autumn (its off-air for nine weeks). The Project Factory built an app, Who is Tim?, based on a new character in the soap and hinted at upcoming storylines. It included puzzles, map games, clues to the character's identity, and extra footage. Naturally, they promoted the hell out of it via social media.

One in six viewers (280,000) downloaded the app; four million games were played; and when the new season started, audiences rose by 25% to 1.92m.

3. Allow for co-creation
Users are generating content at phenomenal rates (72 hours of video added to YouTube ever minute, 1.2m blogs every minute, and so on...) so give consumers a place and the tools to curate their own content.

Hiscox Informed, by BrandEmotivity, is a B2B-style app using the Lacuna platform for the insurer's SME customer base. It provides news, insight and inspiration with content from the likes of the Daily Telegraph, Mashable and The New Business Network, but also allows users to add their own news feeds and favourite bloggers as well as sharing content to their own networks - what you might call a branded, social, magazine app.

4. Quality content has a positive influence on organic search
Translating out of geek-speak, Silverbean managing director Neil Robbins explained how Google's Panda changes to its algorithm reduced the influence of link farming on organic search and made quality content more important.

In a nutshell (fuller details are available here from the Moz 2013 study), says Robbins, content accounts for about 50% of the factors influencing organic search. To maximise your chances, he says, produce content that is visible, timely, authoritative, fresh and segmented. 

But what CMA member doesn't do that?

5. More tips to rank higher
But it doesn't end there.  Other big influencers are social (probably time to put some serious effort into Google+ and authorship, according to Robbins.

The latter is an interesting one, he says. Named authors make a positive difference in terms of authority - see blog post dated 21 August about this subject - but obviously brands would rather they, rather than a named individual writer, were the hero.

The answer is for Google to recognise the concept of ‘publishership', says Robbins, which allows brands to get the credit . This is on its way, but not here yet.

To stay up to date, follow Google's Matt Cutts on his videos.

6. Good stuff
If you're looking for inspiration, look at stuff done or recommended by our panellists.

The Project Factory works with NBC Universal on Downtown Abbey to drive merchandise sales, including the upcoming launch of a Downton fabric range.

It uses the full range of channels, including Facebook (followers doubled to 1.35m), Twitter (quadrupled to 280,000), Pinterest, Tumblr  and content types - everything from extra behind-the-scenes video, live Twitter interviews with the cast, games, puzzles, quizzes, campaigns (free poor old Bates the butler).

"It's all content-led, and it's all social," says Hunter.

Try the Airbnb annual report, which uses easy infographics and soft colours to trace the growth and international expansion of the accommodation booking website.

Or,'s list of the most dangerous songs to drive to, an interesting example of topical, relevant, authoritative content in a decidedly low-interest category. Note the direct link from the bottom of the page to get a quote.   

7. The core content marketing agency skills will remain essential
Smartphones and tablets are likely to get brighter, faster and cleverer, but won't make quantum leaps, believes Mark Brill. The next innovations will be in wearable technology such as Google Glass or Samsung's smartwatch.

"They will demand content that is more personal and more immersive", says Brill, describing Nike Fuel as an early example of the kinds of things he's talking about.

"But the core skills of content marketing - writing or creating, curation and presentation - will still be in demand." 

> Read our #CMADigital tweet highlights from the event

> Book your place at next month's Digital Breakfast on 'digital content strategies'
The event is being run as a special fringe event for The Festival of Marketing, with key note speaker Alastair Cotterill, Creative Strategist at Facebook

Posted in
12thSep 2013

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