Today’s digital world is all about relevancy and personalisation.

While the marketers of yesteryear relied on a spray-and-pray approach of mass messaging, today our aim for advertising is to put the right content in front of the right person at the right time.

Advertisers can now identify signals, segment audiences and easily apply advanced bidding and optimisation strategies for performance. But as these audiences, segments and tactics become more complex, the real challenge for brands is to create enough creative assets for all their targeting segments. We can’t treat all customers the same – and that includes serving them the same creative.

Additionally, platforms have different requirements and ad specs, which further increases the number of asset variations required. The days of using your TVC creative across all channels are over; this tactic only caters to broad reach, and only very rarely does a message cut through at such a mass scale. To get both reach and impact, assets need to be adapted to each platform, audience and intent to maximise media investment.

Variety is one thing, but let’s also talk about volume. To keep users engaged, brands need to produce a large amount of content. When we think about some of the world’s most successful brands, many of them have adopted the always-on approach in their marketing. This requires not only a large amount of content creation, but also a speedy approval process which can be a challenge for some brands.

So, how do we overcome these challenges and start creating and distributing content at scale? Here’s a three-step process that has helped some of our clients succeed.

 

Harness customers to generate content

Few brands use customer-generated content to generate both the volume and a variety of assets they need, but this is a trend that appears to be growing. Leading brands are turning their customers into their very own creative department by using the user-generated content they’re voluntarily creating and sharing.

Tribe is a great example of how a brand can leverage a customer’s content to fuel their brand asset portfolio. The process is simple: brands post a brief in the platform, and users reply to the brief and post the content on the platform – with no guarantee of getting paid unless the brands select their content. The content can be used across different channels, from eDMs and print to website and social, at the brand’s convenience.

 

Bus About using their customer-generated content for their print advertising.

 

Little Michael’s Pizzeria is using local influencers for their website menu.

 

Believe it or not, this approach works! After all, customers are the ones who know what content engages them. Moreover, people now have advanced cameras in their smartphones and can deliver a large variety of formats (gif, portrait, time-lapse, etc.), so it’s tremendously easy for them to share highly engaging and impactful content.

Furthermore, user-generated content performs 6.9x better on Facebook compared to brand-generated content (Facebook UGC Benchmark report 2017/Mavrck). Why? Because it’s authentic!

 

UGC aside, creative agencies are still a crucial partner in delivering a brand narrative and message – however to deliver the sheer volume and variety of assets required nowadays, using customer generated content could be a defining factor in whether brands are able to stay in the game.

 

Use tech and automation to help creative and media agencies work better together

Creative is hugely important. Google research shows that it’s responsible for up to 70% of campaign performance.

People are exposed to literally thousands of marketing messages every day, so it’s no longer enough to just get in front of your audience; you need to catch their attention by delivering creative that resonates.

Going beyond demographic data when thinking about personalisation is crucial, so think about who they are, where they are, and what they want by using data-driven creative formats. Google has launched new dynamic formats in DV360 that fast-track the creative building process and give the creative and media agencies the ability to work in the same environment.

To leverage technology and have successful data-driven creative, brands, media and creative agencies need to adopt the latest technology and collaborate. Brainstorming should be encouraged with all stakeholders before the planning process, as should the use of insights and data points from past campaigns. It’s also important to keep the collaboration going once the campaign is live to ensure insights from media are used to optimise the creative. The recommended approach is always to do a soft launch first, and then to continuously test, iterate and amplify.

 

Be agile in approving creative and use creative intelligence to validate hypotheses

One of the other big challenges for brands is the time it takes to get assets approved; this invariably slows down the campaign launch process and impacts performance.

The first recommendation here is for brands is to stop thinking they can control every photo or comment related to their brand on social media. A photo posted on Instagram by a customer might not be 100% on brand but it might be more engaging as it’s more authentic. Being agile and being quick to react is a better approach than having 100% control.

The second recommendation is to use creative intelligence to validate the content prior going live. Creative intelligence means understanding the language of images to anticipate what content will perform best. A great example of this is from the food retail brand Guzman Y Gomez, who partnered with Adobe Sensei to validate content by predicting sentiment and campaign success.

A key learning from this campaign was that on average, content featuring nachos and burritos attracted the highest engagement but didn’t drive a high number of clicks, whereas content featuring people with their meals didn’t get many likes but obtained the highest CTRs. Images featuring the app were the most successful in terms of online orders. Insights such as these are a powerful way of validating a hypothesis and getting assets approved faster.

 

Creating quality content at scale requires thought, collaboration, and an element of risk taking, but if the big players in the industry like Unilever, Nike and Myer are doing it and don’t look like stopping anytime soon, you know this is a direction we all need to be going in.

 

Shares
Marion Faguet

Marion is a Senior Digital Strategist at iProspect Melbourne, and has worked in both agency and client-side roles in the UK and Australia.