Content space set to swell in 2016

Kate Richardson, Red Engine's SCC director and head of strategy
By Kate Richardson, Red Engine's SCC director and head of strategy | 6 January 2016
Kate Richardson, Red Engine's SCC director and head of strategy.

Throughout the year, there’s been much discussion about the meteoric rise of content as marketing. With a nod to advances in technology and ever evolving social platforms, Red Engine SCC director and head of strategy, Kate Richardson, identifies the content trends from 2015 set to continue in the New Year.

1. Virtual reality reared its mainstream head

VR came out of the gaming shadows this year, with coverage in major media, the evolution of consumer friendly hardware and the emergence of 360 degree video as a more accessible mobile VR experience. The release of YouTube 360 and Facebook’s 360 video product, gave the technology mainstream status, and brands such as Samsung, Telstra and Nestle have taken advantage. The challenge from here is for creators to catch up to the technology, and fully grasp the possibilities and constraints of virtual storytelling.

2. Go live!

Live video made a splash on our small screens, as brands experimented with new realtime apps and publishers and broadcasters pushed further into mobile livestreaming. This follows the online video explosion that shows no signs of abating. In 2015, growth in video advertising outstripped display, Snapchat tripled its daily video views to six billion in just six months, and Cisco predicted that video would account for 80 per cent of all consumer online traffic by 2019.

The launch of apps Meerkat and Periscope capitalised on the trend towards realtime content, social video and agile content production. Brands like Target and Nissan utilised Periscope to give fans access to exclusive events, create anticipation around product launches, connect consumers with celebrities and engage with live streamers and social video influencers.

3. Investing in assets, not just campaigns

At a time when audiences are becoming harder and more expensive to reach, brands are waking up to the value of investing in, and fully leveraging their own assets. Locally, Telstra has remodelled its public phone booths as wi-fi hotspots, lending a physical presence to its Air program. Qantas and Junkee have together launched youth travel site AWOL. Rather than delivering a Qantas campaign targeted at Millennials, the partnership has created a valuable asset - a mobile first, socially driven travel title that aims to become self-sustaining within a few years. For brands looking to build a content asset in a specific niche, partnering with a publisher provides a lower risk avenue.

4. Agencies and clients gearing up for content

2015 has been the sixth consecutive year of double digit growth in content marketing (according to PQ Media’s report on the subject), and when in-house and contractor spend is included, global spend on content marketing is now at US$145 billion worldwide. Whether or not these figures are accurate (after all, there’s still much debate about what constitutes content or rather what isn’t content), there’s no doubt both clients and agencies are heavily investing in this space.

While the number of specialist, agile content shops continues to grow, the big players are also moving to shore up their capabilities. In September, Omnicom announced the merger of its New York production departments across TBWA, BBDO, and DDB to create a mega studio with a focus on content and faster turnaround speeds. Locally JWT noted its intentions in this space with the launch of Colloquial earlier in the year.

Locally, we can expect to see further acquisitions, consolidation and spin off ventures in 2016. On the client side, marketers will look to bring content further into the fold, elevating it to a core activity, and better integrating it with their programmatic strategies and broader digital marketing programs. As content moves from being a peripheral workstream, to a more centralised marketing function, clients and agencies will be under greater pressure to deliver results and returns.

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