My Five "Aha" Moments at Google's "Brands as Creators"

As digital marketers, it’s our nature to be in touch with everything that’s getting attention online.  We share amusing YouTube videos over Lync, can’t stop speaking in #hashtags, and even dress up like emojis and memes for Halloween. We’re all willing organic distributors of online content and our views and shares are currency in a new earned media marketplace.

As advertisers, we wear a second hat, using paid media to propel this content across the web for people to like and share some more.

Yet, there’s also a third hat: the content creator. Here at iProspect, our clients look to us to help them be relevant in this challenging, content-filled marketplace. We continue to be media strategists, but now we’ve become producers and content creators too.  (How cool is that?)

As a key partner for agencies in both content and media, Google is now developing online training to help their agency partners think more like content creators.  After attending their in-person pilot, Brands as Creators training, I find myself immediately thinking of new ways to help my clients achieve their business objectives through online content.

Here the most memorable take-aways from my day-long session at Google’s “Brands as Creators” event:

1)    While advertisements are everywhere online, viewers are seeking and engaging with video and website content—and that’s what is influencing them the most to make decisions.

Until recently, this content was nearly exclusive from brands and their advertisements, but the lines have recently become blurred. Advertising has evolved from one-way push marketing to two-way conversations.

2)    A key element of content that distinguishes it from an advertisement is format.

Nearly all content (print, television, online) has a distinctive and repeatable format that allows its creators to develop fresh, new content on a regular basis while maintaining a following.

A traditional example of this is the sitcom.  A 30-minute format allows the show’s producers to create hundreds of episodes while still remaining fresh and relevant.  Advertisements are dispersed periodically during commercial breaks, usually with little integration with the content they bookend.

A newer, digital example of a great format on YouTube is Dude Perfect, who have developed an engaging, highly repeatable format that has led to over 7MM subscribers to their channel.  While Dude Perfect began as purely organic content, they now have a number of partnerships with brands to develop content with integrated sponsorship (like this Gatorade example) in addition to pre-roll advertisements that are placed in a manner more comparable to traditional broadcast commercials.

Here at iProspect, we’ve seen the lines between content and advertising become blurred; we’re finding that ad/content hybrids are effective at providing value and influence, which comes from high consumer engagement and relevance. Previously, this was nearly unobtainable through traditional advertisements.

3)    Creating good content is tricky for brands, but there are formulas and frameworks that can be followed.

Part of the curriculum was Google’s 10 Fundamentals for Creative Strategy.  They include elements like accessibility (the ability of a brand new user to appreciate any episode without a lot of context) as well as shareability.

4)    Content that is popular on TV can bomb online.

Many TV brands have eased into online media by porting their television commercials onto YouTube.  Some spots that had massive reach and positive reception on TV have barely surpassed the 1k view mark on YouTube because they were a poor fit for online viewers.  There’s a lot more choice involved in modern content consumption, compared to push-marketing on television.

5)    The online personality is among the most trusted source of knowledge for Millennials.

There’s huge opportunity for brands to adopt a long term, game-changing content strategy through collaboration with existing creators. These partnerships can be challenging and complex, but when done properly, can bring enormous success in altering brand perception and gaining traction with new audiences. 

After years of distributing and promoting existing content, I now have the opportunity to have an influential hand in conceptualizing and producing sponsored and native content with the goal of mass viewership and social sharing.  Bring me my director’s chair please. 

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In iProspect's latest white paper, "The Truth About Performance Content Marketing", experts reveal four essential steps for successful content marketing. Check out the strategies and tactics required to create, amplify and measure content that truly performs.