Why marketing has not yet understood the power of content

Sep 9, 2014
Why marketing struggles to adapt to the power of interactive and engaging content in the digital era.
Access a video on any digital video platform in Brazil (YouTube more than others, but any that bring ads will do). Upon clicking "Play", you enter the fantastic negational world of advertising. The marketing world still thinks that between you and the content there is a barrier where it can showcase its client. Quoting a real phrase from a sales professional from a media company: "the user must understand that he needs to watch the ad because it is he who pays for the content". No, dear, he doesn't need to and won't understand anything. It is you who have understood nothing - and probably won't understand.
Advertising is probably the industry with the largest amount of talent at its disposal. Given the amount of money circulating, the assumption is valid - it is simply possible to seek the best minds. Despite this, in most markets, ads are still molded in the traditional narrative invented by cinema in the last century: Presentation, tension, and climax (the translation is a free adaptation of the Three Act Structure). Cinema has always worked this way, then radio and TV too. But just as intercontinental missiles have forever altered geopolitics, the chronological rupture that digital allows buried deep the cookie-cutter recipe of advertising - to the despair of many companies and professionals. Why? Because the content has come out of the linear lock where it has always been. There is no longer a beginning, middle, and end as before and thus, it is no longer possible to know where the viewer/consumer will be in advance. More frightening: it is no longer possible to force the audience to do anything. In fact, it is in this interactivity that lies the definitive cause of the downward spiral of traditional media.
In an article in Brand Republic, the essence of this market blindness is addressed. The author narrates the power of a British advertising content that, instead of trying to sell the brand in the foreground, seeks first to captivate the audience - in this case, children. The ad, in itself, aims to be as fun as any animation. Once the initial resistance to often boring, invasive content, alienated from the experience the viewer is having, is set aside, the brand's presentation occurs under much more positive circumstances for it as the audience has already established a connection with the film's narrative. The brand appears at the moment when the user is most receptive - the denouement.
Another example: Fiat prepared a campaign to reach a target audience composed of adults (embedded below, the version for women; in this link, the male version) in the 30-40 age range (the target audience is very clear with the songs composed for the ad). The product and the brand disappear from the narrative and give way to situations and experiences very familiar to the target audience. The identification is immediate. The user within the desired audience (something extremely simple with the targeting tools available today) not only watches the ad until the end (about 3 minutes) but also shares it. The version below had almost 5 million views and a much larger amount of engagement than usual.
In the distant past, the systematic exposure of the brand in content was the ideal - for advertisers and marketers - but only for them. The interactive nature of digital has denatured this DNA and the balance of power is much different. Agencies and advertisers are experiencing unnecessary friction in trying to push an old gear into a new engine. The challenges of exposing brands in ads have not become more difficult, but they have become more complex. The conception of campaigns and the production of pieces need to be deconstructed and planned again.
Content creation is an inherently human task and perhaps this is the difficulty that creates the noise between the efficiency that advertising wants and the content that these new audiences are willing to consume. And here may be the key to the problem - understanding the viewer's disposition. This disposition was not part of the equation and now it is the determining factor. The human character of advertising pieces is the new cornerstone on which all media emitters need to rely (publishers, advertisers, and agencies). Telling interesting stories was not an obligation of a creative from an advertising agency (some creatives had this virtue, but it was not an obligation). Now it is. The difficulty in accepting the change in the balance of power that put the viewer in the position to choose is the obstacle for marketing to discover the power that content has for all goals, from brand perception to sales leads.
For this reason, agencies and advertisers need today, more than ever, quality content producers, capable of creating content, narratives, images, and the like that hold the audience's attention without the relationship being one of imposition. Today, if the viewer feels constrained, he leaves and forcing him to consume your brand by making your presence inevitable, is much more likely to create a bond of stress, antipathy, and tension. To solve this new demand for content that carries the brand instead of being about the brand, the advertising world has two alternatives: learn to make this type of product or partner with those who know. The second option seems to be much, much simpler.

© Cassiano Gobbet 2023 - 2024