More, More, More: Winning the Race to Make Enough Content

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Credit: Illustration by Mary Ellen Forte/Ad Age

Twenty years ago, "content" was something we paid for, and so we savored it. We'd take time to flip through the magazine for which we had just paid $4.00.

Today, content is increasingly free, thanks to cheap content-creation tools, like Android and iPhone, and free publishing tools, like Instagram and Facebook. As a result, I'd say there likely is ~10,000X as much content available as there used to be.

When the content supply-demand curve changed, that changed everything for marketers.

Consumers used to spend several seconds looking at an image. Today, they might look at several images in one second. Think about that: Each image you put out might get 1/100th the mindshare it used to get. That's bad for marketers trying to keep a brand top-of-mind.

As a marketer, how do you keep your consumers engaged and your brand top of mind in the face of these changing content-consumption behaviors?

Make 50 times as much content
In order for brands to maintain the same mindshare as they did just 20 years ago, they need to create a lot more content. Want to get the same 10 seconds of mindshare? If you do the math, you'll see you need to put out 50 images instead of one image.

While it might seem daunting at first, creating high volumes of content isn't as hard as it seems. Just get creative with the way you get creative.

Source images from your customers, influencers, employees and so on. There are creative people all around us. Identify them and empower them. Give people the tools they need: Offer products, locations, prizes and recognitions to those who can help you.

But how do you enable hundreds, likely thousands, of people to create content for your brand? This requires sourcing, educating, paying and empowering them with your unique brand aesthetic and style. The solution? Find the tech companies that are focused on this problem and use them to your benefit.

Keep quality high, but worry less about each item
There was a time when it made sense for a group of highly paid ad execs in a board room to go over the merits of an individual image, and whether it should be used for marketing. When you're creating thousands of pieces of content a month, there is simply not enough time in the day.

Now it's about finding methods to vet 100 pieces of content at once. Craft new content-vetting processes, outsource quality checks (or centralize the teams at your company), or look at technology companies that focus on this issue.

With the transformation of content creation and distribution, come interesting legal implications. It's important to educate your legal team, which is doing its best to protect the interests of the company. But this dynamic is happening so fast, and out of legal's sight, that they may not have visibility. Talk to legal, a few times if you have to, and get them on board.

Spend $500, not $25,000, on each piece
Expensive content no longer directly equates to good content. This new model of scalable content-on-demand encourages you to challenge your creative agencies to fit into a new price paradigm, where, in exchange for a lower price per piece of content, you dramatically increase volume.

To supplement your agency, seek enabling technologies that have built non-traditional content creation channels that scale production and lower costs.

In the end, it's a mindshare race.

You want the customer thinking about your product as often as they can, for as long as they can. If you are still running the 1997 playbook of creating a few images and commercials a month, your mindshare will fizzle and your customers will leave you.

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