By Amy Thorne, EVP, Performance Creative Business Lead at Merkle
“I want my MTV” echoes through my head as I think back to a time when music was turned into video content and lit up our TVs and our imaginations. Music TV educated us on the latest fashion trends, taught us new dance moves, and kept us entertained for hours on end. We were hungry – starving in fact – for a new kind of experience that fed our appetites for culture, expanded our sense of community, and connected us to brands in a new way – all from the comfort of our homes.
Fast forward 30 years and our hunger for new content pales in comparison to the content needs that audiences have put on brands today. The fact is that 485 minutes per day are spent consuming digital media. That’s over 8 hours of content consumption per person, per day.1 Accelerated by the pandemic, most brands now find themselves scrambling to find a total solution to their content crisis. But brands can’t solve for this challenge by simply producing more content or managing more creators or agencies. Instead, brands need to understand that content is far more than just scale – it’s also about velocity. This consideration for trajectory, combined with scale, leads us to the concept of content velocity.
When we unpack the components of content velocity, we need to understand that it involves three parts: the directing and redirecting of content precisely delivered through technology, scaled content production underpinned by great creative, and a customer-centric strategy. These three aspects working in tandem enable moments that connect to experiences and, when nurtured correctly, will build the long-term relationships that brands need to have with customers to stay competitive today.
The reality is that most brands are only getting one, maybe two aspects of content velocity right today. Perhaps they’ve purchased some “silver bullet technology” that directs content to the right customers, but they can’t keep up with the volume or specificity needed to create distinct, one-to-one moments.
In other cases, the north star strategy is baked and approved by leadership, but with no way for it to be distributed at the speed and precision that customers demand. And the demand is very real. Demand not just for information, but for content that signifies that a brand knows them, they share the same values, they’re innovative, they recognize customers as unique individuals, and they understand that emotions trigger interactions.
All these interactions put a tremendous amount of pressure on brands, operationally and organizationally. That’s because brands are not just in business, they’re in the expectation business. And customer expectations around communication consistency and response times are at an all-time high. When there is a lack of consistency across touchpoints, customers lose trust in companies.2 What’s more, poor response times can seal the fate of brands, with 69 percent of consumers ranking “brands responding quickly” as the most important or second-most important aspect of a good customer experience.3 These types of stats not only underscore the importance of brands creating “effortless” experiences, but they also highlight the negative emotional response that any friction in the system creates if you fail to deliver discrete personalized moments.
Activating all parts of content velocity means enabling round-the-clock, frictionless customer experiences. It also means that brands need to ask themselves some key questions about their preparedness to meet the demands of today, but also start looking beyond 2023. So, what are some of those critical questions?
First, where is your organization from a vision and customer strategy perspective? Is your strategy insights driven? Does it consider the entire ecosystem, or are you still channel and product focused?
Do you have the right technology and orchestration structure to facilitate integrations and holistic decision making? Or is your technology fragmented and owned individually or only adopted within certain teams? Have you considered all relevant marketing technology, including activation platforms such as those that enable dynamic creative optimization (DCO)?
Lastly, it’s important to ask yourself how mature your experience activation practice is. Are you only personalizing some touchpoints, or are you truly omnichannel? Are you limited by the scale of your production operation to deliver full-funnel experiences? Is your content built to perform across the entire funnel, or are you only relying on the bottom to deliver results?
With all these questions, you also need measurably meaningful outcomes tied to the experiences that you’re driving. That’s not just to inform your investments, but to ensure the people, teams, and entire organization are collaborating, prioritizing, and rallying to create consistent and superior customer experiences. Leaders recognize this, with 49% percent of CMOs see innovating brand experiences delivered to their customer base as critical for marketing strategy success – but they face headwinds when it comes to technology upkeep and implementation.4 To really future proof, brands need to expand their solutions aperture to be inclusive of not just content systems technology, but the right technology. They can’t think of content as one thing, but as everything creative, content, and information driven. And it’s founded on a clear vision designed to create, grow, and maintain customer relationships.
So, let’s stop where I started. Customers are hungry – starving in fact – for new kinds of experiences from the brands that they interact with, but instead of hearing “I want my MTV”, we should all hear “I want relevant content now, ASAP, immediately, please”.
- “Time spent with digital media in the U.S. 2011-2024,” Statista Research Department, Aug. 16, 2022.
- “State of the Connected Customer, 5th Edition,” Salesforce, May 2022.
- “The 2022 State of Digital Customer Experience Report,” Verint, July 2022.
- “2022 CMO Navigator | Wave 1: Transforming the business for a new consumer mandate,” dentsu, June 2022.