How Content Is Forcing Brands and Agencies to Pivot Towards the Future

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By: Isobar Associate Creative Director, Dana Demas

Participation in the Ad Age custom webcast, The Future of A Content Driven World: How to Prepare Your Team, had a great turnout of engaged and curious folks from across a variety of industries ready to talk about content.

Along with copresenter Acquia, we discussed how the future of a content-driven world compels brands to engage their customers with ever-increasing velocity. It requires more experimentation and more adaptation. More content and more conversations. And, as was revealed in the webinar’s energetic Q&A, more opinions.

Digital agencies are not immune from this momentum. In-house brand content teams produce with an ever-higher level of quality and consistency. Traditional media has given birth to top-tier creative studios and agencies roles are evolving.

Today, brands have moved from a transactional relationship to celebrating shared affinities with their audience, often leading with high-end custom content production (see Marriott and GE for two great examples of content as brand culture). There’s also not a call-to-action or sale in sight. Rather, brands are creating a relationship and a conversation, immersing themselves in consumers’ lives without directly selling.

It’s exciting times, to be sure, and it requires bravery on the part of brands to fully leverage the opportunity by relinquishing control and authentically connecting with their audience. More conversations are happening between brands and audiences, and they’re more nuanced. Content is now dynamic and non-linear, responding to audience and context and other cues. All of this makes content more complicated, which has changed the structure of the content team and made content architecture a behind-the-scenes hero.

Brands must think in terms of the forest, not just the trees. At its best, content is broken down into components and bites, in order to effectively and efficiently implement a content strategy across multiple domains and channels. You’re not just designing pages; you’re designing a system of components, so that blocks of content can be broken down and built back up: atoms, molecules, organisms, templates and pages.

Prioritizing content architecture also fuels successful personalization and contextualization. By creating a website experience with modular components, content can then be delivered to any device, and work in different channels and formats. It’s where unsexy things like content matrices and taxonomies become essential to streamline content development and establish governance between brand teams and agency partners.

Content is now created on an atomic level. Brands should aspire to manage fewer, higher-quality content assets and make better use of existing ones. Technology has made it easier to reach people with stories than ever before. Through more efficient planning and collaboration, brands get more reuse and results out of their content, while connecting in the way that users demand and crave.

Ultimately, it all comes down to a simple goal: creating stories to build relationships and trust. Users expect constant and consistent engagement from brands, and content is at the heart of that relationship. Don’t be Red Lobster during the Super Bowl. Respond or lose your moment, and your audience.

Be human! And be responsive.

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