Branded content should start with a strategy not a format, says Zoe Cocker, head of brand and RYOT Studio at Verizon Media.
As emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) become more readily available for brands to use, Cocker says it can be easy to fall into the trap of using them for the sake of it.
Instead, she suggests brands look to creating experiences that add value for their customers.
“If you're trying to achieve an experience for your brand, if you want a client or a customer to feel your brand or be closer to your brand or interact with it, that's where you should start using these sorts of interactive technologies because that's what it's for – interactivity,” Cocker told AdNews.
“Whereas, if it's more passive, you can't use those formats.”
While once upon a time branded content was a “nice to have”, Cocker says through real life insights and data it can now prove its worth.
She believes having a more pointed approach where format is chosen based off insights, strategy and creative is the best method when it comes to creating successful content.
“That's why we really have that four-step process of really look at the insights, really build the creative ideation and then find the format,” she explains.
“If you start with the format, the strategy is already upside down because you're trying to shoehorn a strategy into your format. That is the old model. That's the thing that we're trying to change that's broken.”
Cocker has been working behind the scenes at Verizon since late last year to launch its branded content arm RYOT Studio here in Australia, after setting it up in the UK office.
RYOT Studio initially began as a film studio in LA before being acquired into Verizon’s stable of businesses.
Despite only hosting its official launch down under in June this year, RYOT Studio has already set to work with building out its offering for clients in the local market.
Before launch it already had begun working with clients including New Zealand wine label Kim Crawford and has been in talks with GroupM.
“We didn't want to be smoke and mirrors and all talk, no action,” she says.
“So, we used a few key relationships to start talking out in market and saying this is what we're all about, this is how we want to change things, are you interested in being a part of us?
“That's why we thought launching now was the perfect time to make the big splash.”
Calling creative technology the “lifeblood” of RYOT, she says being part of a global telco’s network has its advantages.
As 5G comes to fruition, Cocker says the technology will bring to life a number of exciting opportunities for content to connect and really engage with customers.
“The things that I'm seeing coming through the pipe with 5G is so exciting. I think it will really, really change the way that digital especially is being seen by the world,” she says.
“The next step for me is seeing how we go from this 2D, very flat, beautiful imagery to 3D. Haptic technology, your VR technology, AR technology; it's about everything being around you.”
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