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Dubai Lynx: ‘content and continuity’

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Will work that is genuinely and naturally engaging await the branded content and entertainment jury, asks Anathea Ruys

Content and branded entertainment are ways for brands to offer something of real value to consumers to engage with. But in a world where more content is created every day than can possibly be consumed, brands have to make sure they are creating content that will stand out from the rest and genuinely get noticed.

Consumers have no mercy when it comes to poor branded content in any format, whether that’s a live experience, a game, a piece of video content or a user-generated content campaign. They don’t have to, as there are so many options for them to explore. And it is that kind of attention-grabbing work I am looking forward to seeing at the Dubai Lynx.

Hopefully the entries will enable this rather than hinder it. Like consumers, judges want to be engaged in the content immediately, so real clarity is important in entry case videos and written submissions. I want to understand why the piece of content was conceived, how it did the job it was designed to do, and how it changed things for the brand behind it.

While I don’t know if it will be reflected in Dubai Lynx entries, I am very confident that in the months and year to come we will see some amazing examples of virtual reality content. As this technology becomes more democratised and the quality of the experience continues to improve, this will be a powerful way for brands to create content and experiences you can literally feel a part of.

We will also no doubt see many more examples of content built by and around influencers across all types of platforms. It is interesting to see the growth of local market influencers and the different ways they are engaging with people. While of course the uber influencers who have global audiences continue to grow, there’s a whole emerging level of engagement at a country level which unlocks all sorts of opportunities (see page 16).

For all that it is a huge buzzword at the moment, branded content and entertainment has been a part of the marketing mix for well over a century. It is our ability to generate and share content that has catapulted this out of the realm of product placement and into the centre of many integrated channel or media plans. This integration is growing in importance as marketers recognise that content cannot be created in a vacuum. Branded content may increasingly be at the centre of planning, but it needs to work with other forms of communication and across different channels in order to achieve the best result. Understanding what the roles of channels are and how they work together is vital.

To create content that forms the heart of a strong media plan marketers and agencies need to embrace a few key traits. Firstly they need to be curious and brave. Curious enough to keep seeking out new opportunities because channels and ways of using them are changing so quickly and so constantly that if you rely on what you knew last year, or even last month, you could be missing out on amazing ways to connect with the people you want to reach. And brave enough to take those leaps. When things are changing so fast it takes bravery to be on the leading edge of that as a marketer or brand guardian. Which also means you need to be consumer and insight-driven. Good branded content and entertainment has to be led by what the consumer wants to be part of, not what the brand wants to say. This can be challenging in a world with multiple stakeholders across a business but it can’t be overstated. Brands who don’t create content that is genuinely what people want to engage with simply won’t be seen.

And finally a trait that is really important in the space of content is continuity. Genuine engagement with people is a long game. Launching a single piece of content is unlikely to really change the business. The companies that are doing really well in this space haven’t dipped in and out of creating content. Rather they have built plans that allow the people they want to talk to to have an ongoing conversation rather than a one off blast.

Anathea Ruys is head of Fuse for Asia Pacific at Omnicom Media Group and president of the branded content and entertainment jury