The Buzz Words of Internet Week: Content, Cross-Platform and More Content

The theme of nearly every session I attended at Internet Week in New York City centered around the importance of content creation for brands.  From May 20-23, great minds in marketing, advertising, and technology convened at the beautiful Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street to discuss how fast the media landscape is changing and how to break through the sound barrier to reach target audiences.

Competing with Cat Bloggers

Breaking through the noise is a tall order when millions of people are no longer glued to the same TV program a la The Ed Sullivan Show and the original Dallas, but are pulled in a million different directions–with a variety of media platform choices–online, TV, mobile, and tablets. On each of those devices, it isn’t just your competitors vying for attention. As President of 360i, Sarah Hoffstetter, said in the session on The Power of Microcontent and Marketing in the Moment, “You’re not just competing with a competitor, but with cats and somebody’s baby.”

I’ll add that you’re also competing with the usual online magazines, plus other brands who are turning their own marketing departments into a “newsroom” atmosphere. Their aim is to comment on and react to every relevant (or not-so-relevant news event) and they are trying to write interesting stories about the latest happenings and products in their industry…with their brand at the center of the conversation.

On Advertorials and How Bergdorf Goodman Makes Content Work for Them

With this recent trend where brands are becoming content, what is the value to the consumer for having this content?  In the panel, Commerce and Content: Evolving the Distribution Chain to Meet Consumer Demand, Cannon Hodge of Bergdorf Goodman’s blog asked what does content bring to the readers? Why is this dress special? What is the designer’s story? This leads to a “magic moment” and is a benefit to the consumer, whether you are writing about what you sell or not.  For magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, is there a value to letting consumers shop at their content sites? This would be the ultimate combo of commerce and content–where you create storytelling environments where people can shop.

To me, this discussion also shows how blurred the lines between editorial and advertising have become.  “Advertorial” hasn’t seeped into our lexicon for no reason.  One way Bergdorf’s blog manages to stay authentic is by sharing items and an experience that they aren’t necessarily selling on their site or in store.  Their blog is written to capture the essence of fashion and style in New York City itself…and creating magical NY fashion moments. And if that drives readers to the web site, that’s a bonus.

Brands, Know Thyself

The key is to know your audience, and know yourself–this is the way to create content relevant to your brand, and relevant to the people attracted to your brand.

…And Know Where Your Audience Is

The other key is to be where your audience is–video and mobile are becoming critical and practically mandatory. At the session AT&T Adworks Presents: Hey Marketers! Find the Audiences You’ve Been Missing, Matthew Hull and Mike Welch stressed the importance of “cross screen” over “multi-screen.” Multi-screen denotes who is watching on each platform, cross screen is stitching the platforms together.  It boils down to the metrics: what is the engagement and where do they ultimately engage?

From a content perspective, it’s about tweaking your content to suit your target audience and the story they want to hear on the platform and in the format they want to hear it on.  It’s about being nimble as a brand. And yes, nimble was another buzz word!


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