Content is the lifeblood of digital marketing. As digital becomes the primary marketing channel, many brands are struggling with the amount of fresh, relevant content needed to create engagement across an ever-expanding and changing landscape. Multiplying the challenge is that most digital spend is still push-based even though people dislike the format and consumers are well versed in finding information along their path-to-purchase when and where THEY want to. Most digital marketing is focused on conversion, causing a race for attention that has overwhelmed our ability to consume it. A phenomenon referred to as content-shock. Facebook's recent move to limit promotional and publisher content in user feeds is simply a reflection that there is too much advertising for its user base so it can constrain it, charge higher prices and make better margins. Everyone wins including Facebook's users.
Content shock isn't about too much content, in fact, shoppers utilize a wide range of content when they make decisions. A recent Google study found that the average car buyer users over 900 pieces of content in making their decision. Our work over the past year at Prevailing Path sought to measure the overall volume and relevancy of digital content shoppers found as they moved along the path to purchase and for most brands we measured, there was much upside opportunity for additional digital content on all channels.
The digital advertising approach to date has been to flood the channel with smart ads designed to convert shoppers to buyers, but shoppers aren't always in buy mode.
In fact, people are infrequently in buy mode and even when they are, (similar to a physical store visit), digital shoppers have made most of their decision already. Temporal ads can certainly play a role but are experiencing heavy over-investment and subsequently suffer from fraud and over-saturation as a result of too many ads chasing too little attention.
The key to building long-term digital shopper engagement is to have a constant stream of fresh and relevant content that is flowing into digital channels to help shoppers connect with branded media on their terms. Simply observe how most people consume digital content, especially on mobile and you'll see the problem with ads. Our brains, coupled with ad blocking tools render most ads impotent. However, like email, enough programmatic volume will produce results but at what cost to brand relevancy and shopper quality? For most people, email is now a necessary evil versus a useful tool, is this the fate of digital channels as well? The reason Facebook made its newsfeed change is that its users hated the current model and it wanted to put more content that users like and engage with into their feeds, primarily from friends and family. Marketers should follow suit and seek to deliver less messaging and more relevant content when and where it's needed. The challenge with this model is cost, speed and of course scale.
At Photofy, we are helping to solve the marketing challenge of quality, on-brand content at scale by building a simple collaborative content engine. Our mobile-first platform supports high-quality, massive-quantity, on-brand AGC (associate-generated content) and UGC (user-generated content) all funneled through an easy to use content management tool. The volume of content that can be created an managed is staggering. One of our original clients, The Preiss Company generated over 11,000 pieces of content last year for its national student housing businesses with properties located across the US. All of Preiss' content was on brand, consistent and easily managed across its network. What's even more impressive is that the Preiss accomplished this level of content creation with just 57 of its staff using our platform.
Larger organization can have even more outsized results. Fitness brand Life Time has 6,000 users on Photofy's enterprise platform and last year its collaborative content creation community created over 83,000 pieces of content. As Mark Schaeffer points out in his Content Shock article, “The key to SEO success is to saturate the content landscape.” Life Time associates create content that is automatically localized and relevant to their specific audience with brand consistency and relevance to appropriate audiences. By collaborating on content creation with its fitness partners, Life Time is increasing its overall visibility to search across all platforms and creating engagement among fitness-minded people of all types. Additionally, because Photofy content is distributed through personal networks, the engagement is much higher due to the authenticity of both the media and the creator.
As paid media begins to grapple with over-saturation and platforms like Facebook constrain paid advertising to drive down supply and increase margins and user experience, Collaborative Content Creation will become an integral and valuable part of marketing plans by leveraging the power of personal influence networks. We are using Prevailing Path scores to identify the most impactful digital marketing pathways and help our partners create custom collaborative content creation platforms to build shopper engagement. By combining associate, agency/internal, partner and UGC into a single stream, we're helping to not only scale the amount of digital media associated with a brand but to also identify which type works best with specific audiences.
Photofy's content engine scales from individual users to small business to large organizations. With over 10MM downloads to date, we also have our own content community that can help you grow your business through personal influence. We'd love to help you and your organization with its content needs, drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you get started.