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Iconic Sainsbury’s Magazine Celebrates 25 Years in Print Milestone for UK’s Most Widely Read Monthly Glossy Magazine
Established by Delia Smith in 1993, award winning Sainsbury’s Magazine, the UK’s most widely read monthly glossy magazine title is celebrating 25 years of publication in April 2018. Sainsbury’s Magazine, which is also the UK’s biggest selling cookery title, bringing food, lifestyle and travel stories to 1.7 million readers every month (latest NRS figures).
During the past 25 years, editorially independent Sainsbury’s Magazine has established itself as leading the way in introducing new trends, ingredients and food heroes. Iconic British cooks and chefs including Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Simon Hopkinson, Nigel Slater and Tom Kerridge have built a following of passionately foodie Sainsbury’s Magazine readers who rely on the magazine and its contributors to consistently deliver exciting, flavoursome but accessible recipes.
Originally launched by Delia Smith and her publisher husband Michael Wynn Jones in 1993, Seven Publishing acquired the Magazine in 2005. During its 25 years, Sainsbury’s Magazine has only had three editors – Delia herself from 1993 to 2000, Sue Robinson from 2001 to 2008 and Helena Lang, who became editor in 2009 and who has focused on ensuring the proposition remains relevant to existing and new readers, developing its digital platforms and extensions, as well as embarking on brand partnerships.
As part of the Magazine’s activities to mark the anniversary, magazine readers have voted for their favourite cake recipe from the last 25 years, with the top five recreated for the anniversary issue.
“Our editorial independence has been crucial to the Magazine’s ongoing success and popularity,” says Lang. “We obviously work closely with the different teams at Sainsbury’s to ensure that our content reflects their changing range of products but exploring the external consumer landscape is vital to ensure we deliver a magazine that inspires and delights our readers. Our policy of triple testing every recipe means that our readers trust us implicitly and I am always delighted with the many letters and photos they send us to show us their creations. This culture of instilling confidence started with Delia and remains a paramount part of our editorial approach. Looking at the list of our top ten most searched for recipes, I am intrigued to see such a varied mix of baking, meat based centrepieces and vegetarian options, showing that Sainsbury’s Magazine is a ‘go to’ destination for many different types of home cooks.”
The Roger Collective helps to spread LGBT awareness
The Roger Collective is delighted to have the glamorous and powerful force for good that is Nancy Buoy, aka Daniel Nauthe, as its latest cover star.
As the internal comms magazine for the entire Virgin Group, The Roger Collective magazine’s job is to encourage Virgin people all over the world to feel great about the brand they work for and give them an opportunity to share their stories in way that is engaging, enjoyable and eye-catching. But The Roger Collective also works as a platform for anyone at Virgin to promote and raise awareness of important issues – like diversity, inclusion and their 100% Human campaigns – and Daniel Nauthe is no exception.
Daniel, as well as being part of the cabin crew for Virgin Australia, is also Nancy Buoy – a popular drag performer and ambassador for social change.
“Through Nancy I’ve been privileged to support numerous charities and bring awareness to topics close to my heart,” says Daniel. “Nancy has a bewildering power: when she speaks, people listen. So why not use that power for good?”
Nancy’s posting as Ambassador for the New South Wales Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers was a humbling experience for Daniel.
“Here is one of the most disciplined environments in the country asking Nancy to trot around and be their figurehead. It was surreal. My brief was simple: just be Nancy.”
“I was free to genuinely interact with the police and showcase their fantastic wit and natural approachability. What we ended up with was a series of videos that highlighted inclusivity and sensitivity, bridging the perceived gap between the force and the LGBTQI communities. It showed the New South Wales police for the kind and fabulous people they are.”
Saskia Dornan, Head of Internal Communications for the Virgin Group said: “I’m so pleased to have Daniel/Nancy on the cover. I have received so much positive feedback as a result and it represents everything we support and believe in at Virgin. As well as the great cause it represents, it’s simply an amazing cover image. At Virgin, spreading the message of equal rights for the LGBT community is extremely important, so I am honoured that we have been able to share Daniel’s great work in The Roger Collective.”
Richard Branson himself is a great advocate of equal rights, saying: “Business leaders and influencers have a big responsibility to get out there and tackle problems. While not claiming to have all the answers, it is vital that those who have the opportunity use their platform for good.”
Check out Nancy’s video announcing her work with the New South Wales Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers on her YouTube channel.
Influencer marketing – a useful tactic for b2b companies?
Influencer marketing, as we all know, is about enlisting the aid of tech savvy individuals, who have built significant audiences on YouTube and Instagram, via their smart and engaging videos and recycled pop culture GIFs, to promote your brand.
Except of course there is a lot more to influencer marketing, not least in the fact that it is now becoming a strategy that is gaining more traction in the b2b world.
It is maybe because for some marketers b2b marketing has become ever more complex. Which are the best platforms to use? Is there a still a case for building audiences on Facebook when even before the algorithm change people seemed reluctant to share work-based posts? And what about emerging and niche platforms? Is it right to worry about Medium, Reddit and even Quora?
In common then with the b2c world, influencers, at first glance anyway, promise to make life simple. Get a person onside who knows, understands and regularly communicates with your audience and you can ensure that the superb content you have created is seen.
Except of course it’s not that simple, but a well thought out b2b influencer campaign can yield significant dividends for brands. It is a strategy that the likes of LinkedIn and Microsoft, as well as countless startups, have been using for a while. First of all let’s define terms. What exactly is a b2b influencer? My definition would be a person who has built up a defined and subject-driven network, invariably via social media, who is willing to work with brands to achieve measurable business objectives.
About a decade ago people used to describe these archetypes as mavens – leaders who are able to shape and colour a debate through their knowledge of, and experience of, a particular topic.
Fascinating speakers, delicious food and plenty of opportunities to network make this one-day conference an unmissable event.
Why work with influencers?
So why would you want to work with them. The obvious answer is that they deliver instant credibility – they act as validation for your brand or the campaign have chosen to run. Most influencers, especially in b2b circles, have very carefully constructed audiences and can often be very choosy about the brands they work with. Making a wrong move can undermine their credibility and might lead them to being sidelined. So if they work with your brand it is a very real validation of your approach.
There are numerous ways that brands work with influencers. The most obvious one is via co-creation of content. This has been going on in PR circles for decades. Companies produce reports, surveys etc which they have worked on with an individual who has authority, often an academic.
Perhaps the best value for b2b marketers from influencers is in helping distribute big ticket content, similar to the the old PR tactics, but quotes, blog posts, video appearances are also significant opportunities.
Influencers can extend the reach of a brand, or more particularly the content that it creates, by giving a third party endorsement to it on social channels. They can also prove to be useful challenging a brand’s views and perceptions and helping to shape that content.
Increasingly too we are seeing influencers used at events. On a basic level this might be as an expert who is rolled out to give an industry-wide perspective on an issue that the brand is addressing. Invariably b2b’s brand relationships with influencers will encompass both offline and online activities. Sales journeys in the b2b world are often lengthy, and ongoing relationships with influencers can help to validate brands and work to keep them in the public domain, over extended periods. In theory nudging people and companies towards the dotted line.
Choosing an influencer
How then do you choose an influencer? Firstly roll back a little. The question has to be asked ‘are you sure that using an influencer is the right way to achieve your business objectives?’ Might it be better to explore other options, such as targeted, paid for social advertising on LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
If you do opt for an influencer programme the big mistake that most companies make is to deploy someone they know, or look for a person with a large number of followers on social media. There are many more sophisticated ways of gauging who is influential on topics, and you can explore these via a range of tools such as Brandwatch, Buzzsumo and Little Bird. It might sound obvious, but look for a person who has credibility on a topic and not be blinded by number of followers.
Finally, as if with any b2b campaign, influencer marketing needs to be rooted in defined and measurable business objectives. What bangs for your bucks are you getting from your chosen influencer. Are they enabling you to hit your targets for new business acquisition, brand awareness or whatever it is that you aiming for?
If done well b2b influencer campaigns can be very powerful and help brands achieve their business objectives. More brands should consider exploring them.
If you want to find out more about b2b content marketing, The CMA’s Future of B2B Summit is on April 17th. Speakers from leading agencies will discuss the latest trends in B2B content marketing and the impact that AI, dark social and new technology will have on this rapidly developing sector. Find out more here.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
A day in the life of…Sharon Flaherty, Managing Director of content marketing agency BrandContent
Sharon Flaherty is the managing director of independent content marketing agency BrandContent which works with Financial Services and Tech clients globally delivering integrated programmes across Content, Social, PR and Search.
6.30am – My alarm goes off. I check my watch to see how much deep sleep I’ve had. I’m obsessed with the sleep function on my Suunto. Always striving for more sleep, yet to achieve it! I reach for my phone to check the news in case I need to leap out of bed that little bit faster. I also check for client emails and PR coverage that has come in that morning. As we manage integrated programmes across Content, PR, Social and SEO the first thing I check is results. With a 7-year old and other half in toe, it’s then a scramble to get ready for the day and out of the door.
8am-9.30am – I’m lucky to live near our office in the leafy village of Llandaff so I have a short walk to work. Around 100 metres to be exact! I do love my commute! I’m just back from a week’s snowboarding In France but I’m all caught up on my emails at the weekend and up to speed. When I get in to the office, I share the obligatory bag of treats and check in with the team on client programmes to make sure we are on track and have what we call a team ‘scrum’. We have a 15-30 minute morning catch-up where we run through the priorities for the day, if anything has come that’s a little left-field, or there are any challenges we need to solve, we deal with them then and it helps us all focus for the day.
9.30am: I have a new business call with a potential Tech client which focuses on sustainability in investing. It’s an interesting chat and a very topical proposition and we end with a meeting arranged and a proposal to deliver on a thought-leadership programme.
10:30: I grab a train to Paddington with our Senior Account Executive for a monthly meeting with our client The Howard de Walden Estate. A lesser known fact: The Estate is home to over 250 world leading hospitals and clinics in the space of a ¼ of a mile many of them offering pioneering treatments.
We’ve had a new client win since I’ve been away which is always nice news to come back to and we have a few new business proposals to work on, so I get my head around those. I also use the train journey to delve into the analytics of one of our largest content programmes. Our social distribution begins this week so I’m happy to see strong traffic numbers already and the client is equally pleasantly surprised at the early signs.
Tomorrow night, I’m running a Tone of Voice workshop with technology client Showpad in the US via video conference, so I check in on the technical set-up and make sure the session can be recorded. I also run through the agenda and structure of the workshop and draft a few additional questions.
I’m also the Chair of the PRCA so I check in on attendees for an event I’m running with the Agency Doctor about the 5 drivers of business growth for agencies.
And then I’m onto operations. We’re expanding with a new office opening in Oxford next week and then London the month after so there’s a few logistical things to sort.
Back to client work. We’re very data-led at BrandContent and find the best stories are buried deep in the data. We are working through one such data-story for our client Admiral which means spreadsheets and pivot tables galore! But these stories are really worth the investment as they can’t be replicated easily.
I spend my last chunk of time before heading to my meeting reviewing new editorial content ideas for our client FairFX and our 6-week rolling plan. Phew! Train’s arrived. Off to Marylebone we go.
1.30 pm: We arrive for our meeting in Austrian restaurant Fischers in Marylebone to meet some of the businesses operating in the Howard de Walden Estate. We keep close to the tenants of The Howard de Walden Estate so we can collect the best stories coming out of the area. Their lemon meringue pie also went down a treat!
3.30pm: Off to the HQ of the Howard de Walden Estate to sit down for our monthly catch-up where we review activity, learnings, results and what’s coming up. We have a happy client which is always good!
5:30pm: I brave the ‘beast from the east’ back to Paddington. I really should have worn my snow boots! We have a short wait for the train, so we camp up in the warmest place in the station and catch-up on pressing tasks. There may or may not have been a glass of wine thrown in!
7:15pm: Back on the train and I update my to-do-list and use the time to plan my day tomorrow which consists of a workshop, a Q&A session of a video for children who experience cancer, finalising our 6 month roadmap for currency client FairFX, team 121s and our MI pack making sure we’re hitting our monthly business targets.
CPL wins major project for the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
CPL has been appointed to redevelop the website for a research institute regarded as one of Cambridge’s biggest scientific success stories.
The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI), a Department of the University of Cambridge, focuses on tackling questions relating to cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention and aims to be a focus for the practical application of high-quality research. Established in 2007 and based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, it forms a bridge between the world-class science of the University of Cambridge and its environment, and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
CPL won a competitive bid to transfer CRUK CI’s website from a Drupal to a WordPress content management system (CMS), while also making a number of upgrades and improvements to the site.
The project will be led by CPL’s team of in-house developers, who have extensive expertise in working with both types of CMS.
“Our experience in carrying out major website redevelopment projects for other clients stood us in good stead to win this contract,” says Oliver Smith, who heads up CPL’s digital development team.
Matt Askham, senior associate for digital project management for CPL, adds: “A key strategy for us in 2018 is to win more digital work in and around Cambridge, so it’s great to get involved in a project for such a prestigious organisation.”
“We were impressed by CPL’s approach to the project,” says Neil Bennett, scientific communications lead at CRUK CI. “The fact that CPL has a range of skills under one roof – including front and back-end development and graphic design – helped convince us they are the right agency to work with.”
GDPR and trust issues put the focus on content
As GDPR looms and advertiser concerns about trust – not just brand safety, but privacy and media context too – mount, so the role of branded content rises up the agenda. CMA consultant editor Dominic Mills looks at the bigger picture.
The old saying ‘it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’ has its roots in the nautical tradition. A head wind for one ship is a tail wind for another sailing in the opposite direction.
So it may be for the role of content marketing, as a series of storms and squalls beset the advertising industry. Inevitably, these issues will see winners and losers. Content marketing looks likely to benefit from a tailwind.
Let’s start with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new EU rules (also to be adopted by the UK) on data and privacy. They go live on May 25 – less than 90 days away – and mark a step change in consumer rights, strengthening their control of their privacy and data.
Equally, GDPR represents a step-change in the opposite direction for an advertising industry that, like a junkie, has gorged itself on personal data, using it in ever-increasing amounts to underpin strategies based on tighter and tighter targeting. The more personal the data, the more opportunities it offers brands.
At its best, data gives brands the means to serve consumers with the right message, at the right time, and in the right place. In theory, the more personal the better. At its worst – and the rise of adblocking suggests there is a lot of bad practice out there – it can be both abusive, creepy and, at a minimum, irritating.
In a wider societal context, we have also seen increasing concern about media content. This is not just about fake news distributed via social media or YouTube ads on ISIS videos, although that is a large part of it, but also content that spreads hate and fear and, in so doing, divides societies and communities.
The Unilever moment
It is the negative effects of this – and the impact on brands whose messages appear next to this type of content and thus are at risk of being seen to endorse financially support it – that led to a groundbreaking moment last month.
This was when Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, announced that the world’s second-largest advertiser would direct its media spend towards only responsible media. To widespread acclaim, he said: “Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect children or which create division in society and promote anger or hate. We will prioritise investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact on society.”
While it was clear that Unilever wants to make a stand – in line with its corporate commitments to subjects like sustainability environmentalism and diversity – there is also a sense that Weed is also concerned about the ongoing loss of trust in brands.
This, in itself, is nothing new. The Meaningful Brands survey by Havas last year showed a steady decline in consumer attitudes to brands. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer reinforces the point, extending it also to brand owners, societal organisations and some media.
Content and the ‘consent experience’
At heart, GDPR is also about trust: consumer trust that their data will not be abused and is being used for legitimate and, for them, beneficial purposes.
That’s because the key to GDPR is consent. Broadly speaking (although there are some exceptions), use of personal data requires the active, opt-in, consent of the consumer. (Messaging that does not depend on personal data is less onerously treated).
Moreover, brands are also required to explain how they intend to use that personal data; and nor can they penalise or withhold content or services from those who don’t give consent.
Amd why would anyone allow brands they don’t trust access to their personal data?
While we don’t yet know how consumers will behave – and the Information Commissioner’s Office(ICO) is launching a consumer campaign next month to explain GDPR — the obvious conclusion is that the greater the level of trust in the brand, the greater the likelihood of consent.
And this is where content comes into play. There are two areas to focus on.
One, if you think of content as an expression of the brand promise brought to life, and the priority of any brand is the acquisition and maintenance of trust, is the role of content as a vehicle through which consent can be won.
Thinking therefore about the ‘consent experience’, brands that prioritise authentic, quality and rewarding content – which may be either useful or rewarding – increase their likelihood of gaining trust.
Indeed, it could be that content becomes the primary driver through which consent is obtained. If the content is good, and offers both implicit and explicit signals of trust, then consumers will be more likely to agree to hand over their personal data.
Good content – clear, simple, consumer-centric, and in the right tone of voice – will also be essential to explain to consumers why sharing their data is a good thing. Too many brands default to template mechanisms to explain why they want our data, and focus on what they get from it but not what the consumer does.
Watch out next month for detailed guidance from the ICO on consent, due to be published on 10/11 April.
The second area is through a brand’s owned media channels. Relying on intermediaries – publishers and platforms – to gain consent may prove difficult. First, unless they follow the Unilever model, brands may find themselves in sub-optimal publisher areas where the publishers’ content is not or is less than trustworthy. Second, those publishers may themselves be seeking consumer consent to gather personal data for their own purposes.
One answer, therefore, is for brands to increase their use of their owned media channels where their control over both the content and the consent experience is much greater.
Either way, it is clear that brand content has a clear role to play.
While nobody really knows exactly how things will pan out in the post-GDPR environment – pessimists say it could be an apocalyptic moment for some brands and for many tech and data intermediaries such as retargeters, optimists that wild-west practices and bad actors will disappear – it clearly represents an opportunity for brands to use content to reset themselves based on trust.
And if they don’t, then they can be sure that either the privacy activists and lobby groups will be quick to highlight brand failings, or they may face draconian fines.
Dominic Mills, Consultant Editor, The CMA
Is Vero a place for brands?
I met the team behind Vero a few years ago. They showed me a demo version and I was impressed by the way the app intuitively enabled people to share things like films they have watched and books they’ve read.
Yet at the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think that stealing audience from Snapchat and the Facebook-powered Instagram, clearly Vero’s main rivals, was going to be a very tough challenge.
Yet three years on from its launch Vero has become one of the most talked about new apps of 2018. The world of social media has changed hugely since 2016, and in many respects Vero is perfectly placed to exploit a glaring chink in the armour of its high profile and ultra rich rivals.
Firstly though how has an app that has been lingering in the lower rungs of the charts for the best part of three years suddenly rocketed to number two in the Apple Store and top spot on Android?
It seems like a combination of two things. Firstly Vero’s plan is to charge users for the app at some point and recently it confirmed that payment would soon be necessary. However the first million sign ups would get the app for free. Cue a bit of a rush to download it.
Secondly it seems to have gained serious organic support with a number high profile Instagram users saying recently that they were moving to, or at least sharing some of their content on Vero. As Vice reported there was in fact a whole community of popular Cosplay influencers who have jumped aboard bringing tens of thousands of their followers with them.
In many respects the transition seems to stem from the perception that Vero is actually very like Instagram used to be before Facebook’s commercial team started ringing the changes. For example, there’s no algorithms at play in the news feed so it presents images and posts in reverse chronological order. This is something that many Instagram power users are excited about.
More importantly there are currently no ads on the platform. There are ways for brands to engage with the audience but none of them as of yet involve display ads.
Opportunities for brands
So a clean, easy to use site that has significant potential – should brands be, ahem, piling in?
Well the first thing to remember is that Vero is the latest in a long line of ‘hot new social media challengers’ the vast majority of which are currently withering on the vine. Remember Peach or Mastodon? Neither were able to generate enough momentum to challenge the bigger players. If they had, and Vero looks like it has the potential to least give Instagram and Snapchat a minor fright, you can be sure than millions of dollars will be invested by those platforms to protect their audiences.
Secondly Vero has, not surprisingly given its surge in popularity, been going through some growing pains this week. This has already led to a backlash and ‘how do I delete the Vero app’ type articles.
If Vero comes through the following months unscathed the opportunity for brands might be through partnering with influencers on the platform. Vero has already signed up media companies (GQ and Pairs Match) as well as filmmakers and musicians, and it might be through these types of partnerships that brands can access the Vero audience. The quality of the audience looks like it will be high quality too, if it can keep those Instagram influencers joining.
If, and it is a big if, the company can iron out its recent kinks and keep its current momentum it might just become an alternative for brands who find Instagram and Snapchat a little too noisy and impersonal. And who knows, maybe a whole lot more.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
BlueGlass Partners with The Financial Times to Launch Comprehensive Content Marketing White Paper
BlueGlass joins forces with The Financial Times (FT) to offer tips, strategies and expert advice on the changing landscape of content marketing.
Statistics show that while content marketing budgets have increased by 300% year-on-year, engagement rates have stalled – just 5% of content attracts 95% of overall engagement. To combat this, the FT has launched a new content marketing white paper, partnering with content marketing agency BlueGlass to create the piece.
The paper offers insights such as:
The biggest challenges facing content marketers in 2018 are limited time, and a struggle to prove ROI
Financial publishers spend 2.4x as long producing content as other industries, but the content performs 20% worse than average
Content republishing can significantly boost ROI
The FT worked with BlueGlass to help develop their B2B content strategy. Following a successful project, they spotted an opportunity to help a broader audience improve their content marketing, and compiled a white paper of best practices, strategic advice and statistics. Readers will learn how to leverage strategy, creation and promotion to make long-lasting improvements to their approach – the white paper cites these as the most critical aspects of a solid content strategy.
As content marketing continues to evolve rapidly, it is clear that marketers are struggling to keep up. Channels are becoming more diluted and are frequently disrupted by new technology. The white paper explores these issues, offering statistics and guidance. The research finds that one of the biggest challenges for content marketers is the perceived skill gap in content creation, suggesting that building a foundation of content processes and strategy is more important than ever. The collaboration is filled with practical advice on how to help brands achieve this, enhancing their ability to navigate emerging trends and improve ROI.
Kevin Gibbons, CEO of BlueGlass, said: “I am excited to collaborate with The Financial Times on this content marketing white paper. Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, but the statistics show that it remains a problem for marketers. I hope the insights in this paper can help to simplify that issue.”
For more information, or to download the paper, click here.
Future announces biggest ever imaging audience market share: reaching more than 4.5 million photographers
Global specialist media platform, Future plc, has announced an impressive increase in market share for its photography brands, across print, online, social and live events. It’s monthly audience now exceeds 4.5 million photographers.
The new ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) figures for Jan-Dec 2017 released today, reveals that Future’s overall market share of the consumer photography print sector for audited monthly titles now stands at 59%.
Monthly consumer photography magazines
ABCs total (Jan-Dec 2017)
Digital Camera, PhotoPlus and N-Photo deliver the 59% market share, while Future’s full magazine portfolio also includes Digital Photographer, Professional Photography, Photoshop Creative, Practical Photoshop, and the award-winning Photography Week.
Future’s photography brands have also seen rapid growth across their digital platforms.
In its first six months, the newly relaunched DigitalCameraWorld.com website has delivered in total more than 1 million users, and 2.7 million page views (Google Analytics, July 17-Jan 18). In January 2018, the site recorded its highest monthly audience to date, with 279,000 users and 625,000 page views.
A focus on buying guides and gear reviews has seen the website enjoy strong growth in Search rankings. The addition of Future’s proprietary eCommerce technology, Hawk, means that DigitalCameraWorld.com has become effective at driving transactions on retailers’ websites.
Future has also announced a social milestone today, with the combined Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts of its photography brands surpassing more than four million.
The Photography Show
These market share announcements come just one month before Future’s UK leading event, The Photography Show, returns to Birmingham’s NEC for its fifth year. Since launch, the event has gone from strength to strength, attracting more than 32,000 consumers and professionals over its four-day schedule (source, BPA Audit 2017)
Future’s General Manager for Photography, Matt Pierce, says:
“Future has never enjoyed a larger photography audience. Whether across print, digital, or live events, Future is the clear market share leader. We’ve enjoyed remarkable audience
growth during a period when many rivals have actually been closing some of their biggest titles. That’s testament to the quality of both our content and our teams.
“We now have ambitious plans to launch new products, grow existing ones, and broaden our audience even further.”
Five ways Artificial Intelligence could power content marketing
Last week I went to an event hosted by StoryStream, which bills itself as as a ‘next generation content marketing platform for brands.’ To help launch its new Aura platform, more on which in a moment, the company assembled a trio of AI experts to discuss how the technology might impact on marketing in the coming years.
After an hour or so of fascinating debate it became clear that Artificial Intelligence tools for marketers have huge potential – it is just down to the foresight and imagination of those marketers as to how they are used and how effective they are.
So how then might AI impact on the future of content marketing? Here are five ways that it is being used already that are likely to become a lot more common in the future.
1. Content creation – Robots are already replacing journalists at some media companies, but their role is rather limited. As Francesca Marconi of Associated Press, which has been experimenting with AI in this way, explained recently, “there are many good examples of projects with automated insights. We take structured data (eg sports and financial data) and then develop the templates which include specific sentences. The AI matches the data with the template to generate a story that is readable by humans. This is automation with little human intervention.”
In the future it is possible that longer, more complex pieces of content, can be created using AI. But as Francesca, and many others point out, AI will never totally replace humans in content creation.
The next area of content creation likely to be disrupted by AI is video and I think this is where brands will start to become more interested. They will be able to create video templates leaving the AI to fill in the gaps, such as adding the words, reordering the images/footage. Those caption-led videos, which can potentially be personalised to suit differing customers personas, are going to be very simple to produce at scale.
2. Image and content management – This is one of the areas that StoryStream is innovating in. Its new Aura AI system uses visual recognition technology to help brands find images that are likely to resonate best with customers. The platform assesses images rating their appropriateness for a campaign, looking not just at what is in the image (location, colours, objects etc) but also factors like how it might emotionally connect with users. In addition to smart digital asset management, Aura also delivers multi-channel publishing and supports this with content analytics.
To stand out on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat brands are going to need to get cleverer at choosing images. Harnessing AI to collect the most appropriate ones and optimise them for each campaign will help savvier companies stand out.
3. Customer insight and personalisation – AI can create thousands of custom personas driven by data information from the obvious (age, demographics etc) to the more subtle (previous communications, referral source). These can then be used to pull together email lists which can be very tightly targeted.
There are many companies operating in this space inducing Dynamic Yield, which also offers an AI powered content recommendation system and Richrelevance.
Content personalisation has been a key trend for several years now. AI’s trump card is that it enables brands to do it quickly and at scale.
4. Chatbots and conversational content – One of the many ways bigger brands are experimenting with AI at the moment is via chatbots which are invariably used in customer relations. They run from the very basic through to ultra sophisticated bots like the one which powers the excellent fintech app Cleo.
A couple of years ago some publishers got very excited about the potential of chatbots for recommending content, and this yielded some interesting experiments. The best of which is the very smart Quartz app which suggest news stories it thinks its readers are most likely to view in an informal and engaging way. National Geographic also deployed an Albert Einstein bot to promote its Genius series about the scientist.
The opportunity for brands is to use chatbots to find out more information about their customers and then to use this data via AI to present them with relevant content. A good example of this is Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook Messenger bot TMY.GRL which takes a conversational approach to gently push users towards content on the Tommy Hilfiger site.
5. Optimising PPC advertising – AI is at its most potent if it can mine large amounts of data to find trends and then make recommendations. This makes it ideal for managing PPC advertising. One company that might be providing a glimpse of the future is Albert. They have an AI powered platform that can process the data from omni channel campaigns and then make recommendations to which channels are the most successful at engaging with customers and delivering results. London based Clicteq operates in a similar space offering an AI automated approach to both paid search and paid social.
Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA
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