The second APA International Content Summit: Content and Convergence took place on Wednesday with hundreds of content creators and marketers in the audience. The Summit, which was covered on a live blog as well as on Twitter for those who could not be present, kicked off with a metaphorical crystal ball that mused at the future of content.
After being introduced by this year's Chair, ITV's Economics Editor Daisy McAndrew, keynote speaker Rory Sutherland, Vice President of Ogilvy, addressed the audience with a presentation on par with last year's, acknowledging the buoyancy of the industry and its growth potential in the coming year. Rory noted that there is opportunity for content providers as the industry has reached a period of punctuated equilibrium in the march of technological innovation. The coming year will see further technology developments, Rory said the next twelve months will bring a time where content providers can reflect and take stock.
In the first session, panellists like Philip Tomas, CEO of Cannes Lions, echoed some of Rory's earlier sentiments, talking about how creativity will be what will drive the future with creativity now being a key business decision.
Seamlessly following, the second session focused on how brands can make their content stand out in a world that is full of content providers. While Richard Charkin, Executive Director of Bloomsbury Publishing, debated the importance of editing content, Social Clay's Geoff Hughes looked at the ecosystem of a social media strategy, focusing on Facebook. Geoff provided key insight into how to blur the line between personal and commercial by making branded content suitable for a social space.
The content on the go session also provided some food for thought with Creative Director of FreshNetworks, Charlie Osmond, talking about personalised and experiential content and stressing how it is important to move away from the top line ‘social media strategy' and instead focus one's activity on two pillars, i.e. the two social media platforms that work best for your brand. The third speaker, David Glennie, Chief Innovation Officer, Mobile Interactive Group, went further to say that social IS mobile and that many brands who do not follow their fans back on Twitter which he explained is a missed opportunity. The final speaker of the morning session, Kam Star, Managing Director of PlayGen, introduced the delegates to the concept of ‘gamification' which is set to be a major trend for 2012 to generate branded content as it plays on the art of persuasion teamed with basic human psychology.
The afternoon was kicked off by keynote speaker Contagious' Will Sansom who identified an emerging trend of ‘dude we should do' mentality - the practice of doing things because you think you should do, rather than knowing why you should do it. To move away from this Will suggested to focus more on ‘augmented content' (taking what already exists and making it more fun, more relevant and more interesting), real time content, and the culture of self - creating a personalised brand experience.
The Summit continued with a look at localisation versus globalisation, with top marketers like Allyson Stewart-Allen, looking at cultural differences and language barriers that brands need to consider when operating on a global market. Greet Boonen, Marketing Director at AkzoNobel (the largest paint manufacturer in the world), treated the audience to the most colourful video content on the day, showing videos of how the company gave the Belgian city of Charleloi a facelift using paint.
The day was rounded off nicely with four eminent brands taking the podium to discuss the content ideal. Representatives from Boots, Westfield Stratford UK, Coca-Cola GB and Marks & Spencer's shared insightful case studies that showed how the brands had successfully - and creatively - engaged with their customers through print, video and social media, with original content at the heart of it all.
Technologist, journalist and broadcaster Ben Hammersley gave a motivating keynote speech to leave delegates with food for thought and a feeling of optimism in the face of the continued economic gloom. Ben reminded the audience that the world is difficult to predict and that the secret to success is quite simple: it is to make good stuff. To make them true, make them beautiful, and make them better.
After the summit had concluded Old Billingsgate was transformed into a gala locale for the APA International Content Marketing Awards. Publicis Blueprint scooped the Grand Prix for its Orange Exchange online work, which also picked up the Best B2B Internal Digital Solution award. The accolade followed a phenomenal 12 months for the content agency, which unveiled a 46% growth in turnover.
Seven won the top prize for the Best Integrated Marketing Solution award for its work with Sainsbury's, whose magazine - also created by Seven - picked up the Best Consumer Magazine (retail) award. The hotly contested Launch of the Year category was won by Sunday for its "beautifully crafted" A Thousand Little Things magazine for Boden.
The Church of London also received praise for its Think Quarterly for Google, and the agency's Rob Longworth also picked up the Designer of the Year award for the same magazine.
Cedar Communications on the other hand scooped a double victory in the Best Travel and Leisure Title category. Do Not Disturb for Best Western picked up the top prize while Cedar's work on British Airways' Business Life magazine was highly commended.
The coveted award of Editor of the Year was awarded to Redwood's Stuart Knott for Royal Mail's Contact magazine.
Commenting to Marketing magazine on the awards, Julia Hutchison, COO of the APA, said: "The on-going economic gloom paints a depressing picture. However, the winners of [the] awards, not least our Grand Prix winner Orange Exchange online, have all demonstrated strong return on investment and effectiveness."
The most successful content marketing agencies this year were Redwood and Publicis Blueprint, which each took home three awards. Six agencies including Cedar Communications, Wardour, Sunday and Seven won two categories. You can see the complete list of winners here.
In other publishing news, Future, the special-interest media group, has unveiled Computer Arts Collection, a new series that forms the definite guide to graphic design, typography, illustration, branding, photography and advertising. The 226-pages bi-monthly publication will launch on December 8 and will be packed with insight and inspiration from - and for - the global design industry. Computer Arts Collection will be sold for £15.00.
This week popular marketing blog eConsultancy has dedicated a lot of space to corporate blogs and what brand can learn from bloggers. Firstly, it took a look at five questions a corporate blog should answer, with many being guilty of serving up generic posts or even syndicated second-hand content. Econsultancy suggests that a corporate blog should answer questions that address why customers should buy their products, show how much the company knows about its field, offer real views and provide some future-gazing, as well as varying the content subjects to "expand and increase" its chances of gaining social-shares which in turn drive traffic.
Sticking with the topic, the site also reports that sports equipment manufacturer Adidas has launched its first corporate blog, which is written by staff to provide people with a holistic "glimpse into the sports brand's inner workings". Content on the site includes posts on new projects, daily tasks and the employees' experience of working at Adidas.
If Adidas has got it right remains to be seen, but Econsultancy has also looked at what big brands can learn from bloggers when it comes to utilising social platforms in online marketing. It sums up that competitions and giveaways are great tools to build the email database or to build followers and Likes. Another important thing to note is the cross-posting of content, taking blog posts and sharing them on Facebook as well as tweeting links to drive people to their blogs and reach a wider potential audience.
Over on social media blog Mashable they are offering a great post on how brands can use Facebook and social gaming to build brand loyalty, grow communities and boost sales - which ties in nicely with Kam Star's presentation at the APA Content Summit about gamification. Now a billion dollar industry with massive opportunities for brands and marketers, the post looked at four of the top ways brands are leveraging social games on Facebook: In-app ads, gamification, charity and corporate social responsibility and community build.
Finally while brands are jumping on the Google+ Pages bandwagon, here is good article on 10 strategic benefits of Google+ brand pages to fully maximize the benefits of Google+ both short and long term. These include: integration with Google search; direct connect (automatically add Google+ pages to your Circles from Google search with +BrandName); segmentation of fans for a targeted marketing approach; YouTube, video Hangouts and Google TV integration for a complete social entertainment experience; social gaming; and third party apps to create opportunities to engage and differentiate on the platform.