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Custom Content Conference explores engagement

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Washington, D.C.—A common theme at the three-day Custom Content Conference, which concluded here today, was how the explosion of new media and technologies has led to rapidly growing opportunities for content marketing and creating engagement with customers and prospects. Elise Neal, VP-marketing solutions at comScore led off the event, produced by the Custom Content Council, by enumerating new challenges and opportunities presented by social networking sites, online video and mobile. She said comScore's data show that 73.2 million Americans viewed online videos in December 2010; that figure increased to 105.1 million by December 2011. Another speaker, Stephen Cass, senior editor-special projects at Technology Review, said “gamification” and HTML5 were two technologies that should be added to every content marketer's toolbox. Rob Tait, founding partner of Fresh Baked Entertainment, which produces webisodes for marketers, said that whatever new technologies marketers embrace, they are best used to enhance storytelling. “It's all about emotional engagement, and it's not just about computers but ... many screens.” D.W. Pine, design director at Time, said some of these new screens can represent a double-edged sword, particularly for the editorial and design departments. He showed how designing for the iPad and Android devices enables increased engagement, allowing full-screen viewing of photos, but also boosts the workload of editorial employees. Dannette Veale, digital engagement and technology strategist at Cisco Systems, also showed two sides to the possibilities presented by new technologies. In 2009, Cisco altered its Global Sales Meeting (which had brought together about 15,000 of the company's employees in a single location) to a virtual event that relied on telepresence, gamification and other virtual technologies. The primary goal was to save money, which the new event (now called the Global Sales Experience), did by reducing the costs of the event more than 80%, Veale said. But employee satisfaction with the event dipped. Modifications in 2010 and 2011, such as bringing employees together in several locations rather than have a single one, turned the event into a hybrid of virtual and actual. That improved employee satisfaction, Veale said.
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