Delivering Content Through Enchanted Objects

When we (or anyone in the space) talks about content marketing or delivering content to your audience, there’s an implicit assumption that the vast majority of that content will be served up and consumed on a screen—PC, laptop, tablet, phone. But what about via the Internet of Things?

Okay, you say. I’ve heard of this “Internet of Things” thing.  But what the heck is it? David Rose can tell you. See his interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:

David coined the term “enchanted objects” a couple of years back to encapsulate any device that uses technology to communicate with us in a less computer-y way. Need a reminder to take your medication? How about an Internet-enabled cap on the bottle that glows, then beeps, and if you still forget, texts you—or a family member? It’s called GloCaps and it’s been around for 5+ years. Certainly devices from Nest and others fall under this category.

And by the way—it’s all content. Content that is designed to be effective, meet us where we are, seamlessly integrate into our existing lives, encourage action. In a way that feels natural, organic, not techy. And especially not spammy. Which should be the goal of any good content marketer. Delivering content via the appropriate platform or channel is important here.

The more we fit content seamlessly into our audience’s lives, the better it is for everyone. Are my laptop, tablet, and smartphone part of my life? Absolutely. But those are three objects out of the hundreds (or more) I interact with every day. Content beyond-the-screen is something we’re starting to think about, and I am fascinated to see what others are beginning to do out there. A lot of this, I suspect, will initially be translations of traditional content applied to new media (that “media” being objects of all kinds). Yep, we’ll probably be seeing screens on everything for a while. But then the innovations will come. And I think there is a huge opportunity for marketers (and communicators of all kinds) to deliver content that will be appreciated via these enchanted objects.

At the end of the day, of course, it’s about telling a great story, being relevant, being welcomed because your content is desirable. When I chatted with David this morning (via text of course) we talked about the delicious irony that the enchanted object that brought him to Jon Stewart was a book. Printed on paper. Somewhere up there, Gutenberg is smiling.

The Beauty of a Simple Idea

We’ve all seen Super Bowl commercials with amazing productions that cost millions to make. The actors, set design, props, locations, and a thousand other things can get very expensive very fast, but many big name marketers have forked over that money in the hopes that their spot will break through the clutter and interrupt their audience enough so they get noticed. There is another path. Having a simple, beautiful idea means you can strip away the artifice and tell your story intimately. A couple recent cases of this  – one emotional and one comedic – demonstrate just how far an approach can go.

Girls

The Always #Like a Girl video from Procter & Gamble has stacked up over 20 million views on YouTube. Watch it and you’ll see why. It’s all shot on one set, and the people are real. They’re asked, if you were throwing a ball ‘like a girl’ what would you do? Each person (men, women, girls) acts out throwing a ball in an overly affected and stereotypical girlish fashion.  We learn that women’s self-confidence plummets during puberty as these stereotypes chip away at their perceptions of themselves. The video builds as we see a new, confident image of women emerge, until doing anything ‘like a girl’ is a badge of honor. Simple.

And then there’s Stephen Merchant for Newcastle Brown Ale. All the actor does is sit down and talk to the camera, and riff on how great America would be if England had won the Revolutionary War. Merchant channels a bit of John Cleese here and it’s great fun.

Merchant

No stunt work, car crashes or special effects could improve on these beautifully simple ideas. They cost money to make, but not Super Bowl spot money, and they’re getting seen by lots of people – without the ridiculous cost of the media buy. For marketers, the lesson is as simple as this new brand of video. Invest in your creative ideas first and foremost. If more extensive production is required to tell the story, then you can go there. But if you can tell a great story without moving the camera, you’ll move your audience instead.

Good news: your ads are getting lots of views. Bad news: robots are watching them

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports some interesting statistics on video ad viewership. And by “interesting” I mean “holy $#@t.”  Apparently companies will go to very great lengths to convince advertisers that their ads are being seen. But many of the views are on sites such as (and you can’t make this stuff up) USFunVideos.com, a company that displays ads smaller than a needlepoint, hence invisible. That’s one of the better case scenarios. Another bit of data eye-candy comes from audience research firm ComScore, who found that 36% of online ad views are generated by nonhumans (i.e. bots, i.e. robots/machines/ i.e not your customers).

robby[1]So, in my post today, I’m going to break down the Wall Street Journal’s “Moving Targets” sample scenario of online fraud, and provide a content marketing alternative from Captains of Industry.

TRADITIONAL AD AGENCY APPROACH

  1. Car brand X asks its ad agency to place an online video spot targeted to men aged 25-54 who are likely World Cup fans.
  2. The agency often goes to an ad network, which in turn sells ads across the web.
  3. If the network doesn’t think it can reach enough World Cup fans, it may turn to an ad exchange to find more ad space for the video campaigns.
  4. Fraudsters can exploit this system by setting up bogus sites who’s fake viewers look attractive to Car Brand X.

CONTENT MARKETING APPROACH.

  1. Car brand X asks a content marketing agency to build engagement with men aged 25-54 who are likely World Cup fans.
  2. A good content agency will first look at what kind of meaningful, valuable, educational and entertaining web content will appeal to car buyers aged 25-54 who are likely World cup fans. What content would these people seek out, and then share?
  3. The agency develops a strategy for not only the kind of content to be used (i.e. video, podcasts, etc), but what the most effective platform should be for the content (new website, or existing social media platforms such as YouTube, for example)
  4. In tandem, the agency develops a distribution strategy for the content. This may include a publishing calendar, with different kinds of content deployed over time on different platforms and with different forms of social media outreach.
  5. The agency develops a creative concept from the strategy. If the research uncovers that male world cup soccer fans are hungry for information on a particular kind of car, and wary of superficial glitz, the agency might then create a series of entertaining but educational videos about the car, all hosted by a soccer celebrity.
  6. The web video series is then deployed on the kind of platform the strategy has determined will allow the video to be seen by the largest number of potential customers. Not videos that interrupt these people, mind you. These would be videos that the customer would seek out because THEY WANT TO SEE THEM. Because the videos are genuinely interesting, with a depth of information that helps the customer understand the features and benefits of this car – with the story tailored from a soccer fan’s perspective. The trunk space, for example, could be measured not in cubic feet, but by how many soccer balls and other gear it can hold.
  7. Social media is used to get the world out, including targeted outreach to soccer blogs frequented by men aged 25-54.
  8. Success is measured not just by views but by the number of people – actual people – who click through to request more information on the cars being showcased by our soccer star.

The result is that FEWER views may be recorded, but the quality of those interactions will be far greater, with actions and influence measured on a human scale. And here’s the kicker: If large advertisers took half the cost of the 36% of their media spend wasted on views by robots, they could fund a Captains content marketing campaign start to finish.

To quote the HAL 9000 computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey, “Dave, I really think we should talk about this.”