Don Draper had it easy. With a TV in nearly every American home, it was a boon for advertisers. They knew where audiences were, and had a direct line to them. Brands hired celebrities that appealed to the audiences watching at specific times. Since then, 'television' has drastically evolved into an all-encompassing term for entertainment supported with or without traditional ads. Meanwhile, smartphones have become the most quantifiable portal to today’s consumer, making the second screen experience all the more important. In helping brands and content creators navigate this newfangled media landscape, creatives and storytellers are challenged with making digitally-driven social content not just entertaining, but intuitive to the human experience. This is paving the way for a 'New' Golden Age of Advertising.
Making Advertising Golden Again
There are many opinions about what made the Golden Age of Advertising. To me, it was a time when creativity of advertising synced with the imagination of consumers. It was an era of experimentation, valuing artistry, and standing out. In turn, it gave consumers ads unlike anything they'd ever seen.
As creators, we are actively seeking new ways to present brands to their audiences. We push the boundaries of the status quo, tell better stories, and orchestrate larger narratives. Building brand strategies with a social-first priority fosters a better relationship between consumers and the brands they follow.
Platform Fragmentation and The Second Screen
Good marketing encourages participation. After all, sharing experiences is what social media fundamentally promises. Networks have embraced this notion through the 'second screen,' creating live interactive content tied to the airing of their shows. Brands are also developing broader deliverables across platform-agnostic briefs in hopes of gaining more exposure. As audiences are trained to demand and consume more, true engagement means delivering smarter, customised content across every platform. Audi's recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything” live stream was a testament to how this strategy is taking root. When brands give the consumer the tools to create and share, we feel a more genuine connection to that brand. The holy grail is the campaign that gets audiences creating their own branded content.
Connected Stories and the Drive for Relatable Content
We need to build for immediacy as we consider our marketing strategies. To this end, the social content we create must embody a sense of cultural relevance. Nike tapped into this for the NBA Playoffs, generating up-to-the-minute memes of game highlights. This content was current and helped people associate Nike’s brand with the experience. But that’s just one part of the narrative. We also need to consider marketing strategies as an entire consumer journey, built across multiple touchpoints. Advertising is no longer a singular story. Instead, it’s a lot of little stories that combine to tell a larger branded narrative - one that gives consumers the chance to attach their own experience to it.
Many brands still develop a singular commercial narrative and then make 'cut-downs.' It’s fantastic for budgets, but reusing content breeds stagnation. Consumers are smart. As soon as they’ve watched a spot, they’re done. If they see it reformatted for Snapchat or Instagram, they tune it out. There's no inherent value in rewatching.
Staying Golden: Future-Proofing Advertising
Future-proofing advertising means building adaptable commercial content. It’s like setting the stage for a theatre play. Most of a budget goes towards the artistry of the campaign, building the models, creating the environments, and setting the stage. Good social content is a value-added proposition because we’re not building a new set, we’re simply telling different stories with the same assets.
Fragmentation is only going to continue to get more complex with the onset of AR and VR. If nothing more, the push for social content has given us the tools we need to future-proof our approach to advertising.
Brien Holman is Partner/Executive Creative Director at We Are Royale, a creative & digital agency based in Los Angeles, CA and Seattle, WA.