Skip to content
International Content Marketing Awards 2018
The International Content Marketing Awards are the biggest night in the content marketing calendar. Agencies from across the world offer up their greatest work from the past 12 months for judgement by some of the biggest names in marketing.
We are excited to announce that there are 24 categories available to enter this year, to win Gold, Silver and Bronze. The winners from categories excluding individual awards (Editor, Designer & Rising Star) will be put forward for consideration for the ultimate Grand Prix award. For more information on the categories, please click here.
Entry deadline: Friday 7th September 2018
Shortlist announced: Monday 8th October 2018
Awards evening: Tuesday 27th November 2018
The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London NW1 8EH
Ticket prices remain the same for the 3rd consecutive year.
CMA Member Award Entry – £199 + VAT
Non – Member Award Entry – £299 + VAT
CMA Members qualify for Early Bird entry costs of £156 plus VAT per entry for a limited time. Get in touch for details.
CMA Member Individual Award Ticket – £399 + VAT
Non- Member Individual Award Ticket – £499 + VAT
The ticket price includes entertainment, a delicious 3 course meal and UNLIMITED wine and beer
We are delighted to announce that this years host is the hilarious Rob Beckett!
If you have any queries, please head to our FAQ page, here
Key Content Marketing Trends in 2018
Earlier in the year, we published an article which highlighted the key trends it believes will shape content marketing in 2018. We suggested that brands would diversify the type of content they produce, and would also invest in developing multidisciplinary content teams. We predicted that GDPR would have a significant impact on the shape of content marketing and that social issues could come to the fore.
I think that in many ways we have been more right than wrong in our predictions. Certainly GDPR is a catalyst for seismic change.
With the quieter summer months looming we wondered what the companies who are at the cutting edge of content marketing in the UK thought of the way that the discipline has evolved this year. Overall around 20 companies took part with key executives offering their opinions.
What we discovered was that content marketers have plenty to be concerned about from GDPR though to emerging social platforms, but they are overwhelming mostly focused on with producing quality content.
The impact of fake news and GDPR
It is hard to overstate the impact of the growth of fake news on brand communications. That isn’t to say that brands were ever in the business of tricking their consumers. The increasing scepticism with which consumers view social content however has meant that there has been a clear shift from filling platforms with large amounts of content to delivering high quality stories, videos and images that will engage consumers. This includes podcasts and longform, but on an everyday basis means that blog posts, listicles and social updates are more thought out, crafted, ruthlessly edited and rooted in strategy than ever.
Fortunately brands have an emerging ally in their quest for content that will chime with consumers – technology. Use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence continues to grow in content marketing, from helping brands to personalise content through to optimising the reach of that content.
The other huge question for content marketers is to how to handle the fall out from the introduction of GDPR last month. Some companies have seen their email lists decimated, while others have started from scratch with new ones.
Yet, as tricky as its implementation has been, GDPR presents brands with an opportunity. How can they both create and maintain meaningful relationships with consumers? The longest list of email addresses ever is pretty useless if no one opens the communications that the brand sends.
So, it is fascinating time for content marketers of all types. Click here to download the report.
Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA
How Instagram’s IGTV innovation will change content marketing
A couple of weeks ago Instagram made what might turn out to be one of the most significant social media announcements of 2018.
It unveiled IGTV, its new longform, vertical video, full screen platform that is available in the Instagram app as well as a standalone IGTV app. Individuals and brands have been able to upload videos to Instagram for a while but there have been limitations. IGTV addresses these and then some.
As video creation solutions provider Wochit explained on their blog, “the new platform is an amalgamation of concepts seen elsewhere – videos are shown vertically and full screen (like Snapchat or Instagram Stories), and brands or users host them on their own channels (similar to YouTube). Videos can be anywhere from 15 seconds to one hour in length and can be shared over a direct message, favourited or commented on like a regular Instagram post”
The long-form potential of IGTV has already piqued the interest of both brands and content creators as it seems to address the growing trend for longer, more engaging content, while opening up new avenues for them to explore.
“I believe in the unparalleled ability of AV to connect with the viewer on an emotional level,” says Sophie Bowen, Strategist at Cedar Communications. “So, at a time when we are being told to make video shorter and shorter to catch a tenuous ‘view’, it is an exciting move because at the very least I hope it shows a return to content less transient and a belief in the validity of longer form video on social platforms other than YouTube.”
In many ways it is surprising that it has taken Instagram, and indeed its owners Facebook, so long to develop a premium video option. Given the massive popularity of Instagram with both Millennials and Gen Z it has a huge potential audience. Secondly full-screen, vertical mobile videos with significant running times are a big point of difference with other social platforms.
There is also talk of ads being rolled out across the network at some point later in the year to increase its attractiveness to brands.
Needless to say, the usual suspects (innovative brands and media companies) have piled in already. BuzzFeed, Vogue, BBC, The Economist, Louis Vuitton, Bacardi, Cheddar, The Food Network and Chipotle have already started experimenting with the format and we are seeing musicians use it to release new tracks and indeed albums.
The bigger picture
So why launch now? Sebastian Redenz, Head of Paid Social, iProspect believes that Instagram and Facebook had no choice as they are playing catch up. “Currently, YouTube and Snapchat provide brands with strong original content offerings, particularly long-form. In my opinion, IGTV is Facebook’s attempt to join the original content space.”
However, Sebastian also thinks that as well as increasing dwell times for Instagram to serve more ads, IGTV is actually a bit of trial run for potential future Facebook plans. Innovations like IGTV will enable social platforms to be able to distribute studio made content positioning them as a possible rival to both existing broadcasters and on demand video portals like Netflix.
“I think it is about gathering learnings and insights that help pave the way for an eventual launch of their big bet FB Watch at some point in the future. Brands will experiment with IGTV and start releasing longer edits of material used for Stories. When you evaluate the success of IGTV, it will be about key metrics such as intent to watch, watch time and retention.”
The challenge of vertical video
One of the key issues brands face is that the vertical video demands of IGTV mean that to harness the format in an optimum way they might need to invest more in their video output.
As Patricio Robles of Econsultancy explains in this article there’s no free lunch for brands on IGTV.
“One of the primary reasons for this is that IGTV uses the vertical video format. While it’s theoretically possible to repurpose videos created for horizontal formats like YouTube’s, more realistically publishers and brands will need to create content tailored to IGTV if they want to be successful. In other words, without an ability to quickly repurpose content, they will need to invest time and money in content creation for yet another digital platform.”
Adam Neale, MD, Bold Content believes that IGTV will further strengthen the case for vertical video. But he agrees with the Econsultancy perspective that it presents challenges for brands.
“You can’t just shoot 16×9 video and hope that it will also work in a vertical format.” he says. “Close ups need to be framed differently as do interviews. If in a traditional 16×9 video, you have one person on the left side of the screen and another on the right, and they’re having a conversation, then in vertical video you need to decide who to favour rather than showing both at once. To avoid a choppy edit you need an experienced editor who can use techniques such as L cuts to continue dialogue from one person as you see the image of the other person. Hence a new vertical visual language is established.”
“Video production companies will need to be adaptable, creative, and innovative. It’s crucial that these companies are embracing the opportunities created by IGTV. Only time will tell how well IGTV does in competition with Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat and whether the vertical format will entice filmmakers to try new things with the language of film.”
Implications of long-form
The second key issue for brands and creators is learning how to adapt long-form video to the new format. In the past Instagram has been a terrible place for long-form content claims Florie-Anne Virgile, Founder, Myth-To-Measure.
“Recently, I watched Sophia Bush’s IG story about the heartbreaking separations of families at the border in the US. She’s literally crying live after watching footage of kids in court trying to defend themselves without lawyers or just a basic understanding of what’s happening. She’s crying, it’s raw, it’s real. And she gets cut every minute. The whole experience starts feeling a bit fake after a while, because of those cuts.”
“As a content producer I think IGTV is the answer to a need that has been growing since the launch of IG live: the possibility to produce videos longer than one minute. We’ve all watched IG stories where content creators had to record or edit and cut 10 videos to say what they had to say. IGTV will prevent this from happening.
The limitations of Instagram and how IGTV addresses these have also been noted by Kevin Gibbons, MD, BlueGlass.
“IG stories are great for short snippets, but for long videos they break up into multiple clips – which isn’t the best user experience. Plus, standard IG video posts are capped to 60 seconds. So, I think there was a demand for consuming video content this way. From a publisher/marketing perspective, right now is a great chance to stand out. Getting your story watched is very competitive, but IGTV is promoted ahead of this, with less people using it so far because it’s brand new – so now’s the time to jump in and try it.
However, while there are many content creators who are very excited about the potential of IGTV others strike a note of caution.
Navigate Video believes that “if any platform can compete with YouTube, Instagram (the second most popular mobile social networking platform) is the best option.’ But they add “however, brands need to consider whether creating content for IGTV is actually beneficial for their brand and for reaching their target audience, and if so, how they are going to incorporate this new platform into their content marketing strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach with video, especially for a new platform like IGTV where brands are still trying to figure out how they can use it.”
Finding content on the new platform might also present a roadblock too
ToTheEnd believes that smaller brands need not get too excited. “With a real lack of decent discovery opportunities for those who aren’t Kim Kardashian, it might be a nice additional offering for smaller accounts to give to their audience, but such little reward doesn’t yet justify real time spent on the platform.”
No matter how it develops the arrival of IGTV is forcing brands to take another look at their video strategies. As Mats Gylldorff, European Media Partner explains, “there is a great possibility that IGTV will be a good compliment to e.g. YouTube. IGTV has a creator focus and already existing eyeballs. If you believe your audience will consume content on IGTV you should do strategic testing and share content on a regular basis and focus on quality, relevance and creative content.”
Ultimately though as Dialogue‘s Howard Wilmot adds, in order to make the most of the new format, brands are going to need to move quickly
“As with all new digital opportunities, it seems the window of opportunity is only ever open for so long before the space becomes too saturated.”
So, what do you think? Is IGTV the platform that brands have been waiting for? Or is it going to further complicate an already crowded and diffuse video marketplace?
Ashley Norris, Editorial Consultant, The CMA
New Content Marketing Association (CMA) award acknowledges intersection of content and PR
Over the last couple of years, we have noticed a growing interest in content marketing from the PR departments of brands and dedicated PR agencies.
“More and more members with a PR background are joining the Content Marketing Association (CMA) and attending our events, while we are increasingly receiving requests to address audiences of PR execs at conferences,” says Catherine Maskell, MD of the CMA.
“So, with many companies and agencies now creating integrated campaigns which blend owned (their websites and social channels), paid for (ads) and now earned (coverage achieved via PR) media we thought it was high time that a CMA award reflected this.”
Hence, for the first time, the CMA have introduced the award for Best Use of Content Within Media Relations. “We are looking for examples of the way that imaginative and creative content has generated successful media coverage,” says Catherine. “But ultimately delivered measurable business outcomes.”
In the b2b space this could mean a thought leadership article, a survey or a white paper that has been widely reported by the press and has generated significant new business leads. In the consumer sphere we are looking for content like video, an infographic or image content that has been widely circulated and picked up by media outlets.
It can be an integrated campaign, as long as there is a key element of earned media.
You don’t have to be a CMA member, or indeed have a history of content marketing to enter. You also don’t have to be a PR agency (or from a department in a brand). The winner will be chosen on the strength of the campaign and the results it delivered irrespective of where it emanates from.
The details on how to enter the award are here.
Content marketing thoughts inspired by the World Cup
In many ways it didn’t look as if Russia 2018 was going to be much of a World Cup. Dogged by the corruption scandal that engulfed FIFA in 2015, missing key teams in Italy, Holland and the USA, and held in a country ruled by a leader who some feared would use the event for political ends, expectations were initially on the low end of the spectrum.
Yet Russia 2018 has turned out to be a vintage football tournament with so much tension, drama and quality football that it is has gripped everyone from Aarhus to Zixing. A World Cup that was expected to be quickly forgotten may also, for English fans at least, turn out to be the most memorable since the glorious Italia 90.
What is especially interesting is that in several new and unique ways the World Cup seems to reflect some of the key trends that define our era. There are clearly a few lessons which marketers of all stripes can learn from the World Cup. And not just the usual ones about adopting a two screen approach to watching and interacting with the game, and the seemingly unstoppable power of social media. I am not even going to expand on the technology either, and the way in which VAR has invariably been harnessed to complement the gut feelings of the officials. Tech validating human hunches – sound familiar content teams?
There is much we can learn from the approach of the individual teams. Here are three quick case studies.
Direct connections, informality and storytelling are powerful – England
At previous World Cups the relationships between the England team and the media, and often the fans, was at best fractious and usually rather toxic. Who could forget Wayne Rooney, who after the 0-0 draw with Algeria in the 2010 World Cup, turned to a nearby camera and said “Nice to see your home fans booing you. That’s what loyal support is.”
This time, in what has been hailed as master stroke, the manager Gareth Southgate has made every single player in the squad available to the press. Undoubtedly they will have been media trained and given strict boundaries, but the interviews with the players have been informal, insightful and invariably a lot of fun.
The new openness is a reflection of what is happening with the world in general and marketing in particular. This is a generation of players who have grown up with social media, and in some instances know how to harness it to promote themselves. So the images of themselves they present appear to be authentic and occasionally even humble. There’s no sign of the arrogance or combative approach that have characterised previous England campaigns.
The press has responded in a very positive way keeping negative stories out of the papers and largely focusing on the like-ability of the players and the management team. What is really innovative is the way the England team have used storytelling. The Football Association appears to have encouraged the players to share stories of their lives, not just their successes, but their passions, and in some instances, like Raheem Sterling, their struggles.
It is chiming with both the media and the public. It really has a whiff of X-Factor in the way that the backgrounds of the players have been constructed – and this before they had even laced up their boots. They might earn more in a week what many of us take home in a year, but somehow the distance between the team and the English public seems a lot shorter
It is an underlining of the fact that the old tactics of top down messages heavily pushed out via traditional media channels really have no place in the modern world. Both the England team, and the rest of us have moved on.
Don’t underestimate the power of momentum – Russia
By the time you read this the host nation Russia could find itself in the semi-final of the World Cup. An incredible feat for a team that was ranked 70th in the world just a few months ago. The level of cynicism about the team back then was incredible with some pundits predicting that the side would struggle to get out of their group.
Yet Russia’s team of misfits have proved themselves to be the tournament’s surprise package, and some of their success can be attributed to the collective will of a nation pushing them on. An impressive opening game victory over Saudi Arabia gave the team a degree of momentum, and since then they haven’t looked back. That momentum too has spurred the fans on, which in turn has inspired the players.
Momentum is critical in content creation and social media. Yet achieving it comes with a cost of commitment and hard work. As content marketers it is hard sometimes to constantly come up with stories, tweak messaging and optimise social media channels, especially if we don’t always see the results we hope for. Yet the breaks, whether that be in a piece of content that goes viral and significantly increases brand awareness, or a story that generates lots of new business leads, do come and content marketers need to be ready to capitalise on them.
Reputations should never be relied upon – Germany
As England fans know all too well, boasting one of the world’s key football leagues and fielding a team worth hundreds of million of pounds is no guarantee of success. In football teams are only ever really as good as their last performance.
And in Russia 2018 the German team which had charmed the world in 2014 with its seamless attacking football, never really got started. The 2-0 defeat at the hands of South Korea was the final crushing blow to a nation for whom anything less than a semi is seen as a failure. There was much criticism of the manager, Joachim Low, for sticking with players who might have excelled in the past, but now seem to have lost they energy and motivation they once had.
It wasn’t just Germany either, Italy and Holland were no shows at the tournament, while neither of the two best players in the world could carry their teams, Argentina and Portugal, to a place in the quarter finals.
For content marketers it is a lesson that our brands must never rest on their laurels as the world can change quickly and violently. Who would have predicted three years ago that Facebook, so ubiquitous and seemingly all powerful, could be on the receiving end of headlines like this? Or that brands so woven into the fabric of British retail society could find themselves struggling?
Great content will never ever save a totally stricken brand. Yet it can, if it inspires its audience, generate insight and intelligence which could be used to ensure that management teams can respond quickly to turbulent markets.
Every content marketer needs, from time to time, to reflect on the fact that each year thousands of startups launch in the UK often driven by ruthless, incredibly smart individuals bent on disrupting existing markets.
Having a great reputation is important, but maintaining it and thinking about the future, well that’s everything.
Next week was going to be about ‘what Love Island can teach us about social media’ – but it looks like someone else got there first 😉
Ashley Norris, Editorial Consultant, The CMA
Award Winners: Rising Star, Tom Cornish
In addition to the awards for campaigns and media, the CMA Awards also offers individuals the chance to shine. Editor of the year and Designer are up for grabs alongside an award introduced for the first time last year for ‘Rising Star’ – the person under the age of 30 who have demonstrated they have played an important part in their company’s content marketing success.
In 2017 the clear winner was Tom Cornish, the Influencer Marketing Director from Wavemaker.
Tom has already notched up an impressive career working with both PR and media agencies, but he thinks that the move to Wavemaker gave him an opportunity to make his mark.
“Since being at Wavemaker I’ve become more prominent in what the business does, so it’s opened up some big opportunities for me,” explains Tom. “I’ve moved over to focusing on influencer marketing more recently, which is a big strand of what we do as a content practice.”
“The influencer marketing practice works across the whole business,” adds Tom. “So we work for big clients, but because influencer marketing is quite agile, quick to activate, relatively inexpensive compared to something like TV – it also means we work with a lot of our smaller clients. So, we have done campaigns for a train operator called C2C, which has had some brilliant success. They actually got silver in the Content Marketing Awards last year for an influencer campaign in the Best Use of Monetised Content category.”
Wavemaker entered many CMA awards in 2017 and it was Abi Morrish, Head of Digital Engagement at Wavemaker, who pushed Tom into entering for rising star.
“We have a marketing department within the agency, and one of the responsibilities of that department is to find relevant awards for us to take part in. And it was through my boss at the time, Abi Morrish, that I f got wind of the CMA Rising Star award.”
“She, for better or worse, thought that I could do it. And she said, ‘you should put yourself forward for this.’ To be honest, I don’t think I would have, without her giving me that nudge.”
Together Abi and Tom filled out the application highlighting some of the excellent work that Wavemaker in general, and Tom in particular, had done in the previous year.
“I talked a lot about the C2C work that we’d done, because that was being submitted at the same awards. Also, we talked quite a lot about some of the new business stuff that we’d done.”
“I was also doing a lot of planning, helping our teams to work on social content, to have a bit of strategic direction in what they were going to do over the course of the year. So, we talked quite a lot about that stuff and the impact that those changes and strategies had had on the brands.”
Although Tom clearly had a really strong entry he admits to feeling “gobsmacked” when on the night his name was called.
Book your place on our popular awards writing masterclass
Bit of a blur
“My first reaction was that they were just putting up the names of everybody else before the person who’d won. And in my head, was just, ‘well that’s not me.’ And it’s genuinely just a blur from that point until later when there was this short piece to camera afterwards out back, and that was kind of when I was back in the room. It was amazing, really. I did not see it coming.”
Many companies, when they win awards have established practices for sharing the good news, which means pushing the news out to the media and sharing across social channels. With the Rising Star award Wavemaker’s approach was more nuanced.
“It’s been more organic, because I wouldn’t really have wanted to be trotted out by Wavemaker and used as a marketing tool, and I think that they are respectful of that,” explains Tom.
From a career perspective too winning an award can be transformative.
“The award has raised my profile internally and people are now more aware of who I am.,” adds Tom. “There’s been, people contacting me on there and congratulating me – people I’ve worked with in the past, which is really nice.”
Finally Tom has some advice for people entering the awards this year. “I think you need to have a story, I think you need to have a reason for winning the award, over and above the numbers, and performance of the work that you’ve done.”
Award Winning Agencies: Mediaplanet
“Reputation and credibility are very important to us. Previously, it could be said we were a bit of a ‘churn and burn’ supplement company. Now, we’re winning gold awards for content marketing. It was a long journey, and we put the work in to get where we are now. Awards like this are credit to that.”
Two years ago, Alex Williams, MD of Mediaplanet, had a pressing issue to deal with. Although the company could boast 16 offices worldwide and claim to be Europe’s largest content marketing agency, Mediaplanet was still relatively unknown in the UK.
The catalyst for change was the 2016 Content Marketing Awards.
“We applied for the CMA awards in 2016, won a bronze award and saw a lift in our business,” explains Alex. “It was a great achievement. We were there to throw our weight around with the big content marketing companies. But we knew that next time we wanted to win gold.”
So, in 2017, Mediaplanet joined up as members of the CMA and that year, applied for just one award, with big hopes for a prize.
“We were confident our 2017 campaign entry was a lot stronger than what we put forward for 2016. It’s a title we run every year, but we were particularly proud of this year’s content, influencers and distribution, as were our clients!”
The campaign promoted women in STEM. As Alex explains, “The campaign raises awareness of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We really got under the skin of issues that are just not being covered around women in STEM; issues we felt that weren’t getting the coverage they deserve. Then we reached out to key partners like WISE, who felt the exact same way and were keen to support our diversity-inspired agenda”
“The gender split in senior positions in STEM is skewed 80:20 towards men. This is something we wanted to tell people about and – hopefully – help to change. Our content aimed to inspire people, especially women, whether they were doing GCSEs, A Levels, apprenticeships, university degrees, or maybe looking at vocational courses. We presented them with inspirational role models: women who have gone through that journey and achieved great things; people high up in companies who are desperate for a change of voice. We talked about the importance of diversity and how recruiting people from different backgrounds would give companies fresh opinions, ideas and technologies, which actually reflect the diverse audience these companies want to identify with. And that is why we are so passionate about this campaign.”
“What really motivated our partners though, was whose eyes we had looking at the content. We made sure our distribution was very carefully targeted. Of the 70,000 copies we printed, some went directly to head teachers and careers advisors in schools, others were given out at careers fairs, and we even got in front of parents and teachers simultaneously by distributing at PGA meetings. You have to understand that a lot of girls don’t get into STEM because society – accidentally or not – dissuades them from it. We just wanted to say that, if your child is interested in those areas, there is a viable career path for them. We were able to show how these women were changing the world through the work they are doing, and that the girls of the future could too.”
“The award that Mediaplanet won was ‘Best Distribution Strategy’ and it was a recognition of our robust distribution strategy. We’re proud of that. We’re doing something really important here, and this award means we’re doing it well.”
One reason the campaign was so successful was the incredible level of support they received. “We partnered with European space agency and had people from NASA talking about the campaign. We even had a female astronaut tweet us from space! That really got some traction for our message.”
Nerves on the night
Even though the narrative of the campaign was strong and Mediaplanet had a very clear and measurable ROI to show the judges, they weren’t sure whether they would win the award. Alex says he had never been that nervous in his life.
“The awards were more than just about that one campaign, though. The whole night gave the team a chance to feel incredibly proud, motivated and inspired for the projects they cover; it was a really special evening” says Alex. “It was as much for the staff as it was the company and what we were promoting,” he explains. “It was so important for the team to see that their hard work was worth it. I think we are bad in the marketing industry for not celebrating our staff when they do good work.”
Alex says that the award has been a pivotal part of their credentials for this year.
“Once we were nominated, we started leveraging that with our clients. One of our USPs is how we reach our target audience; we are not just producing content, we are distributing it too, so that’s a huge part for us.”
“We work with national newspapers and specialist publications in distribution, so, to win an award for distribution was everything. It is our USP that has been accredited.”
“Realistically, it has helped us in terms of letting people know about what we do and how we do it. It has helped increase the company profile in the UK.”
The awards procedure is already in full swing and Mediaplanet has high hopes that it might repeat its success this year. “We have lots of really strong campaigns for 2018. Maybe we’ll enter more than one category this time!”
For more details on the awards and how to enter them, check out this page here.
Measurement has been identified by our CMA members as one of the major issues facing the content marketing industry. So we have a set up a CMA Special Interest group specifically to assess and develop a “best practice” approach that can be used to promote and use in the future. Now, more than ever, content marketing needs to find a repeatable and robust method for measuring the value delivered to clients and together we would like to crack it!
So with this in mind, we would like to gain some credible research from all content enthusiasts about current existing thoughts and processes on ROI and measurement. Please take 4 mins to complete the survey below.
Your time is greatly appreciated, a full report will be shared in September 2018.
To be in with a chance of winning £100’s worth of M&S vouchers, please fill in the data capture section at the end of the survey.
If you work for a brand, please complete this survey.
If you work for an agency, please complete this survey.
Five innovative examples of content marketing from the US
The content marketing industry in the UK is buoyant. According to a recent-ish report from Yahoo and Enders Analysis, it will apparently be worth £349 million in 2020, up from £125 million in 2014. It seems like we are finally catching up with the US which has over recent years witnessed a massive surge in investment in branded content. In fact, according to a report published last November by market research firm Technavio, the global content marketing industry will grow at an annual rate of 16% per year through 2021, reaching $412 billion by the end of 2021.
It would however be churlish of us not to admit that some of the best examples of how companies harness content come from the other side of the pond. So here is a selection of great examples to inspire you.
At first glance the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce looks like a standalone editorial site, and a great one at that. It is brimming with insightful thought leaderships articles and state of the industry surveys. The site, however, is an important lead generation tool for SAP Hybris, a company which creates customer engagement software and has partnerships with many of the world’s biggest enterprises.
SAP Hybris’ strategy is to encourage potential customers to dip into the website’s high quality content and then to shift them along the funnel. Perhaps firstly to signing up to an email, but then moving them along to SAP Hybris’ more salesy content which they hope will create paying customers. The site is a textbook example of how to harness quality content and SEO techniques to creates sales leads.
One of the big questions the founders of startup Away Travel had to grapple with was ‘how do you make luggage interesting?’ How do you shift the dial from being perceived as a bag maker to emerging as a lifestyle travel brand. The solution for Away has been content and in particular its excellent content portal here. It’s a first class travel magazine that mixes advice – like improving your travel selfies – with guides, such as finding the best restaurants in Madrid. The content is short, pithy and engaging and accompanied by high quality images.
In 2017 Away followed in the footsteps of Airbnb and ASOS and created a printed version of Here. It has a high ticket price of $25, but for that investment its readers are able to revel in some glorious photography and excellent long form content.
A few years ago Venture Capitalists realised that if they wanted to attract the hottest tech startups they would have to create great content to underline their approach and thought leadership. First Round does this on an almost industrial scale and is reaping the rewards for its diligence.
It boasts a suite of nine online magazines, from sales through to fundraising, which offer insight and advice for growing tech companies. The quality of the content, much of which is verging on longform, is uniformly excellent. In the last year the company has also innovated ensuring it is where its customers are on social channels like Medium, but also creating First Search, a comprehensive database of articles about companies compiled from across the web. Users offer up a little information about themselves, and the search engine optimises the features it delivers to them.
General Electric is a content marketing innovator which has over the years delivered a huge content portal, experimented with emerging social platforms and pioneered the use of technology such as drones in branded content creation. In many ways its flagship content site, GE Reports is the gold standard of branded tech content – an inspired mixture of forward looking technological articles and videos often illustrated by company case studies. The roundup of The 5 Coolest Things On Earth This Week which focuses on brilliant innovations from the world of academia, is unmissable.
Tomas Kellner, the editor in chief at GE recently told Forbes that the quality of branded content has to be really high now to enable any kind of cut through with audiences. “GE Reports’ competition isn’t IBM or Boeing or Intel,” Kellner says, it’s really The Wall Street Journal. His mission is to break through the noise and distractions of cell phones, incessant notifications, media saturation. It’s not easy. “People don’t set aside 10 minutes each day to read branded content,” Kellner says.
One of the key issues for many established companies is ‘how do you change culture?’ There is often a clear demarcation, with the majority of the management teams from Generation X and employees being Millennials. Yet it is important that the attitudes and tastes of the younger employees are communicated, not just to the management, but across the business and indeed reflected to the outside world. And this is an issue that content can help address.
A really great example is the Diversity and Inclusion blog from Bloomberg. It is an inspired mixture of help and advice for employees from all backgrounds on how to increase workplace inclusivity. So, for example there are articles on the power of mentorship, LGBT+ inclusion in Asia and why a multigenerational workforce is a competitive advantage.
The content is helpful and insightful but sometimes challenging too with calls to action to Bloomberg employees to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.
It will be interesting to see if other larger enterprises adopt a similar approach.
Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA
How brands are using humour to show personality and gain trust
It’s all about trust.
As consumers, we are losing trust in the brands we buy from.
With the rise of fake news, post-truth, the recent Facebook data scandals and the brand safety issues surrounding YouTube, this is all hardly surprising.
So, what is it that brands need to do to win back the trust of their target audience?
Of the many answers to this question, one of the most important is personality. Brands attempting to show their personality through their content reveal more of who they are and what makes them tick – creating a more genuine and loyal relationship with their consumers.
Central to all of this is the subject of humour.
When done right, adding humour to content can be the best way to reveal personality.
However, as we all know, there is a fine line between being funny and head-in-hands cringe. If you’re not careful, humour can backfire terribly risking the ridicule of your social audience and an image that’s hard to shake off.
So, how are brands using humour?
Here’s a list of some of our favourite brands that are doing it well (and some that aren’t…)
1) New Zealand Tourist Board
Famous for their self-deprecating sense of humour, this piece from the NZ tourist board is a great example of fun, engaging content. Showing that even their own Prime Minister has a sense of humour, this film sees a local private detective attempting to work out why New Zealand is disappearing from the world’s maps.
Widely applauded, the series of films from Hostelworld sees celebrities ‘slum it’ by staying in an American hostel, usually frequented by students and travellers. In this case, famously troublesome guest and super-celebrity Mariah Carey is pleasantly surprised by what she finds when her team mistakenly book her in to the wrong hotel.
Along similar lines to the Dollar Shave Club factory walk-through, this is certainly one of the better recruitment films we’ve seen over the years. With a large helping of self-deprecating humour throughout, SodaStream definitely ensures we get to know the people and the brand as we are warmly welcomed to join the team.
An oldie but goodie. ‘The Epic Split’ features a fantastic pairing of the Swedish Volvo brand with the cool and composed Belgian, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Held up as one of the great executions of the last 10 years, Volvo creates a masterpiece that you just have to crack a smile at. (The ‘making-of’ film is also well worth seeking out.) Note: the important role that music plays here to complement the film and enhance the ambience.
And finally, we’ve included this one as an example of how even serious issues can be dealt with cleverly using humour. The element of humour (here used to illustrate how easily someone can adopt a fake identity) is used to draw the audience into a difficult, yet important subject, and gently provide the shock needed to encourage the audience to take the issue seriously.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Of course, it’s not all good. It would be remiss of us to publish an article on humour without adding the very strong caveat that, with humour, things can also go very wrong.
Humour is a very subjective thing that will touch the funny bones of some, but not of others. So, a word of warning, be careful how you use humour and be sure to test your idea out on as large a sample pool as you can before pressing the big, red ‘Live’ button.
Here’s a couple of examples we feel simply miss the mark, but we’d love to hear what you think, or if you live in the countries these ads were aimed at, where the reception might have been very different from the one we’re giving them over here!
6) POM (USA)
7) Pizza Hut (Singapore)
Nick Hajdu, Co-Founder, Navigate Video
The future of sports marketing
Sports marketing is in something of a transitional period. The shift to social and digital is ongoing, but the evolution has thrown up as many questions as it has answers. Significant changes in American sports are sure to impact on marketers in Europe, while at the same time new technologies like Augmented Reality might soon create amazing new immersive opportunities for brands.
Keeping on top of it all is tricky. Fortunately the CMA has a Sporting special Digital Breakfast on Wednesday 16th May. Here we invited the speakers, plus other significant commentators on the intersection of sports and marketing, to offer their views as to how they see their role developing in the coming months and years.
The four participants are Jim Dowling, MD of Cake (an agency owned by the Havas Group which has a heritage in sports marketing), Andrew Ko, CEO & Cofounder @Personalyze (a data analytics company that has worked with some big sporting names), Chris Gratton Head of Sports and Entertainment at FleishmanHillard Fishburn (an agency that boasts many sports clients) and Ivan Lazarov, Group Head of Sales at Bridge Studio, the creative content team at News UK.
What do you think has been the biggest change in sports content marketing in recent years?
Jim Dowling, MD of Cake – Ultimately, that younger audiences appear not to have the patience to watch live, televised sport. The average age of a live televised football watcher is over forty years old, and gets older by a year, each year.
In addition, there appears a greater intolerance of ‘official’ media commentators and punditry. Fan generated content, through channels like Arsenal Fan TV, or alternative opinion or content through the likes of Copa 90 is breathing new life into football culture; which other sports will ape, follow or take inspiration from.
Andrew Ko, CEO & Co-Founder of Personalyze – I think the biggest change in sports content marketing is the shift in using more and more data to determine what to put out there. It’s not just about putting stuff out there blindly anymore, but really understanding your audience and posting content that really resonates with your intended fan base.
Chris Gratton Head of Sports and Entertainment at FleishmanHillard Fishburn – The explosion of video as a centrepiece and absolute staple within sports content marketing and in particular deals done with rights holders has been a huge step change. For a long time the contractual rights granted to brands had been focused on pure media value, mainly for on-pitch exposure (mainly boards and backdrops) however there has been a recent shift with most brands now looking for digital rights and in particular those that allow them to tell an authentic, credible story via consistent and continuous high quality content output.
Ivan Lazarov Group Head of Sales at Bridge Studio, the creative content team at News UK – The idea of building communities to engage people first. We’ve been working hard to get writers commenting and conversing with subscribers beneath articles to build this idea that you are part of a club, which hopefully means they are less likely to churn.
This is an idea that spreads to marketing as well. I was listening to a podcast a little while back about how NFL stores in the US are increasingly places you go for an experience, AR/VR areas where you play in a match, meet your heroes etc and they don’t try very hard to flog things to you, they just want you to fall in love with the NFL because then they have you buying things for life.
What is the biggest challenge in reaching out to sports consumers on behalf of brands?
Chris Gratton – Due to the drastic increase in quantity of content available to an individual generally and in the sports arena, it has become increasingly difficult for brands to cut through with their output. The challenge is that you are competing against so much noise, which in some cases has significant paid support, that to stand out you need to be authentic, credible and sometimes disruptive. Tapping into cultural trends whilst staying true to both the sport and your brand is very important and the thing that is increasingly lost within brand content output. There is often a lack of true value add or differentiation by many brands within the sports arena who forget about genuinely what the fan wants to see, hear and in many cases love.
Ivan Lazarov – Being authentic to your audience and creating a unique piece of branded content that is as watchable as if it was non branded and is true to both brand and publisher values.
Jim Dowling – The same as it’s always been. How is your brand going to improve the sports experience for the consumer in a relevant way?
Andrew Ko – Again, the biggest change in sports content marketing also becomes its biggest challenge as well. And that is trying to truly understand the target audience and knowing what kind of content to put out that gets the highest engagement. Posting engaging content on social, particularly, has become an arms race to see who can.
Are social platforms still important? Or should brands be building their own content portals?
Ivan lazarov – Social platforms are still important but it is vital to move away from clickbait headlines and create content that is original and true to our own values and not copying formats from other brands and publishers. It is also vital to understand the role of each social platform and create content that is desirable to our audiences in the way the want to consume it.
Facebook seem to make promoting Facebook groups rather than pages and are now rewarding content that creates the most discussion in its newsfeed to show you more engaging content and less clickbait.
The other thing that we are finding from a content point of view is that we have to offer far more than the facts, even if people go to you because you are a trusted source. Even when it comes to exclusive news they are only exclusive for so long, our strategy for The Times is to offer analysis of what is going on and say to people “we’ll make you understand it.” So if we can we try to make that clear in what we put out on social – be that the words or increasingly graphics or gifs that shout “this is analysis”.
Part of this is because the biggest challenge for most people – especially during a World Cup, say – is the sheer volume of content kicking around. You may have the best article ever but getting people to see it is difficult. We support content that we think will resonate hardest via paid promotions and we also push our writers to tweet out stories that we think can take off but we do it sparingly – the reason people engage more with them than the brand is because they are authentic/genuine in how they act and we wish to maintain that.
Jim Dowling – Sport fans are a part of the human race, and like the majority, their content journey generally begins when they pick up their smartphone, and tap the requisite social media icon. It’s where it begins.
Brands should concern themselves first and foremost, with the quality of content they produce. Channels come next.
Andrew Ko – Social platforms are definitely still important as the customer-base has already been built up. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are mediums to 2+ billion eyeballs globally, ready to consume whatever content is shown to them. And the best part of social is that it’s digital and, thus, should be better equipped to track ROI versus traditional media like TV and billboards. I say “should” because it’s not quite there yet, but I believe it’ll get there within the next 5 years.
Chris Gratton – The old adage of ‘fish where the fish are’ remains true, particularly for brands in sports where the fan is more than likely indifferent about your brand and extremely passionate about the sport. Therefore trying to move individuals into a brand platform to consume content about their sport feels unnatural, disingenuous and inauthentic. In addition, a brand content portal attempting to host a considerable amount of owned content needs both extremely high quality credible content, continuous output and a lot of money to drive traffic to establish itself on the map which is why many brands do not even attempt this approach. Most will leverage social as a hosting platform to allow cross pollination of content from authentic sports channels to their own platforms. Many also use established players in the space to host branded content on their behalf, both to tap into the existing audience but also the feel of authenticity you gain from partnering with a trusted fan platform or destination.
How do you see technology changing sports marketing and content in the coming years?
Andrew Ko – I believe technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality will help sports brands find new ways in engaging with their audience. It’ll bring a new level of interaction to fans that could probably only occur in the sports venue in the past. I know Sky Sports tried this with their 3D broadcasts of some Premier League games a while back, but imagine sitting at home using VR to fully immerse yourself in games as though you were right in the stadium! Then think of the potential of turning that into a personal marketing channel to that individual. I think it will be game-changing.
Chris Gratton – Technology is integral in sport and has been for a number of years both on and off the different fields of play, however it has with everything had varying levels of success often in early and in some cases arguably too early adoption, something very relevant at present with conversations around VAR in the Premier League. The most exciting technological developments however are really going to come in for the fan and in particular in terms of how they consume the sport both in the stadium and at home.
The connected stadium is being built for the future and you can look at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta as the pinnacle with the Premier League following close behind. The new build for Spurs is almost complete and Crystal Palace, Chelsea and others won’t be far behind as everyone looks to push the boundaries when it comes to incorporating tech to improve all areas of the experience.
From a content point of view, VR and AR both broke onto the scene a few years ago within sport again with varying successes in different areas so it interesting to see how this affects the fan experience when someone truly cracks it. A couple of football clubs, namely Liverpool and most recently Man United have used VR to give fans a behind the scenes experience that they will never receive (particularly for overseas fans who may never get to the stadium) which is where something like VR at present has great strength. The investment in sports is vast so it is natural for tech development to be high in the space.
Jim Dowling – AR is one to watch. Apple are investing time and resource into the AR capabilities of their handsets, primarily to drive education-based applications. However, if used smartly and creatively, AR could make a lively difference to the viewing experience whether on the sofa or in the stadium.
Ivan lazarov – Technology is constantly evolving allowing us to understanding our audiences better and interpret audience data to write compelling content. A further evolution in tech is within voice. AR/VR is fun but can be very expensive. Voice on the other hand is pretty cheap and easy and with Wireless radio we can create content easily which can be tailored for platforms like Google and Alexa.
Do you think we take our sports marketing cues from the USA? Or we are doing things in a British/European way?
Jim Dowling – It depends on what the sport is. We can all learn from each other. The US market have often have led us in the use of technology. Stadia and smartphone experiences, for example, are ahead of much of Europe. That said, the depth of UK fan culture; beyond the results on the pitch are often the envy of US sports.
Andrew Ko – I’m Canadian so I think I have an unbiased view of this question. I think it’s a hybrid path that we are taking here in the UK. Americans like things that are really “in-your-face”. However, I don’t think that kind of tactic resonates with the British/Europeans. I mean, there aren’t even replays of goals scored at Old Trafford on the big screens! I think elements of the flashy American-way have crept up into sports marketing in the UK over the past few years, but I don’t think it will fully switch over as that would turn off a lot of Brits.
Chris Gratton – The traditional US sports experience is very different to the one we know however many rights holders and brands are taking cues from the USA, in particular with regards to the on-site fan experience. Pepsi for example, have attempted to replicate the Super Bowl model of halftime shows within UEFA Champions League, pulling big artists like Alicia Keys and The Black Eyed Peas to play and elevate both the sport and their brand exposure as a result.
As mentioned previously, new stadium builds are certainly taking the USA lead in terms of how they enhance every touchpoint for a fan on matchday whilst driving revenue. There are nuances and very stark cultural differences regarding what drives a fan not only from US – Europe but within every country and therefore everything must be tailored locally in some way to ensure relevance, credibility and authenticity.
Read more about the Digital Breakfast and book tickets here.
Ashley Norris, Content Consultant, The CMA
CMA Member Exclusive Discount on VR & AR Training
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
1 Day Training Masterclass
London Fri 27th June
Background to this workshop
By 2021, the combined market size of augmented and virtual reality is expected to reach 215 billion U.S. dollars. All around us we are now seeing examples of where both VR and AR can reshape existing ways of doing things- buying a new home, educating children, interacting with a doctor or watching a concert with VR and the recent launches of Apple’s AR Kit and Google’s ARC Core proves the tech giants continued investment in Augmented Reality applications. Some commentators now believe in the next 18 months that AR has a higher potential for growth than its more higher profile VR cousin.
What is certain is that both VR and AR advances and price points decline enable these immersive technologies to offer incredible almost limitless creative opportunities ranging from experiences based to live-action, replicating traditional storytelling and filmmaking, pioneering 360 content production computer-generated content for learning and education and much more.
About this 1 Day Workshop:
On this 1 day workshop you be will introduce attendees to the fundamental pillars and creative possibilities of virtual reality and augmented technology which are disrupting the entertainment, engineering, property and healthcare industries. Attendees will learn how to create and manage immersive technology environments, design 3D scenes and be taught the essential element of interactivity using Oculus Rift and Touch technology
Who should attend
This workshop is designed for marketing professionals, creatives, technologists, storytellers, writers and film producers, senior strategists and entrepreneurs who wish to fully understand the core principles and practical applications of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology
Training Venue: Wework Southcentral
The workshop will be held at Wework Southcentral, 33 Stamford St, South Bank, London SE1 9PY: https://goo.gl/maps/oe12djGqEWL2
What you will learn by attending this workshop
The workshop will include the following modules
Introduction to VR and AR
– A brief history of VR and AR,
– The titans of VR and AR explained; Oculus/Facebook, Samsung, Sony, Apple and Google.
– The essential ingredients of presence (Tracking, FoV, peripherals, haptics, foveated rendering, locomotion, 3D audio etc)
– The continued rise of MR and AR (Inside-out tracking, MS HoloLens (I will try and bring one) and why it is so important.
Content and Distribution
– VR, AR and 360 content distribution platforms
– What content is working and what is not
– The commercial landscape
– Software development platforms
– Introduction to social VR
– Creative tools
VR production process explained
– 360 degree capture
– 360 video formats
– Editing 360 content
– Capturing 360 sound and core principles of 360 production
– How to make a simple webVR app
– Group 360 photo tour project, from concept to delivery
Use cases for immersive technology
– How immersive is revolutionising multiple verticals, from healthcare, recruitment, productivity to training.
– Integration of VR into existing workflows
– Practical applications of ARKit and ARCore
The Future of VR and AR
– The new 180 degree format
– Volumetric video capture and photogrammetry
– Making a simple VR animation (each person will need their laptop)
– Artificial intelligence, 5G and IOT – what these will mean for immersive
– Q and A
About your Virtual Reality Workshop Trainer- Jonathan Tustain
Jonathan Tustain has been fascinated and deeply involved in the virtual reality and AR industry all his life and has been immersed in the industry since 2012. He is founder of London’s largest VR meetup group, VR Developers Meetup and is well known in London VR circles, writing for founding mobile VR company Proteus and freefly VR and acts as a consultant for many companies and agencies seeking to test VR applications and speaks at regular VR events such as 2018 recent Future Tech Now VR in London
He has written features and stories for Shots.net (for example – The future of digital actors), How it Works magazine and Yahoo and shoots video reports from VR events such as VRLO.
Below are some customer feedback from attendees who have attended our workshops in 2017/2018:
“I wanted to say that I had an EXTREMELY useful day at the VR Workshop – it covered all of the questions I had and I took away a lot of ideas as my knowledge about VR was greatly enhanced after this day. What I loved the most was the demo and examples given, the opportunity to play around with the equipment and to see the endless VR possibilities within a day. The VR Workshop has broadened my perspectives and awaken my imagination. A HUGE THANK YOU to both of you for organizing and running this great workshop – it will certainly make a difference to my line of work”
In-house Digital Executive- Knight Frank
‘As a producer for a production company I found this course incredibly useful. I was specifically looking for a workshop that was really practical and would expand my knowledge of the production process, trends and how best to use VR creatively. This course certainly delivered on these requirements and has inspired me to go learn more about this space’
Production manage- leading Ad Agency in London
“We really enjoyed this workshop. Jonathan clearly had a huge wealth of knowledge of the VR industry and was able to cover a lot of the positive aspects and pitfalls of VR. It was an very interesting journey through the history of VR and also the different types of virtual media that existed. In many respects, this has given us more confidence in identifying the type of virtual media that would benefit a training solution we could offer in our area of business. We’re greatly appreciative to Jonathan for bringing some clarification to this from the huge range of VR choices. We made many notes of websites and facts concerning AR, VR and mixed reality that were really useful. It was also great that Jonathan had an understanding of the different range of tools that we could use to get started on VR. Jonathan also gave us some good leads on future VR training events, some of which we’ve signed up to already.” Digital Services Producer, The Police
Cost to attend
£450 is our normal retail rate
Special rate for CMA members!
Let’s Learn Digital are offering CMA members a special rate of £400 to attend our next workshop
To reserve your place booking here:
To redeem this offer, CMA members will just need to enter a code at the checkout. To get the code, please email: Hugo.deSoissons@the-cma.com
Please contact us on email@example.com or call direct on 07989 985922 if you have any questions on the above course.
Read More News Articles »