It was around 2007 that the concept of content marketing really took the marketing world by storm. The notion that brands could gain audiences' trust, entertain, educate, and invite them into their worlds through content, rather than simply ads, was almost unprecedented. Fast-forward to today -- creating free content is not just a marketing strategy, it's essential for all brands to successfully drive awareness, engagement, and loyalty.
Now, content marketers are upping the ante yet again with real-time marketing: interactions happening in the moment with core audiences. These interactions are dynamic -- based on real-time data and intelligence previously gathered -- in order to reach audiences through online, mobile, social, and video.
This trend towards the "here and now" comes in response to customers' growing demand for instant gratification -- for real-time responses and real-time feedback to their real-time needs (or, at least, their real-time wants). That's why 59 percent of marketers plan to supplement their tightly-controlled marketing plans with an increase to their real-time marketing budgets in 2016.
Of course, the pressure to produce exceptional content in real-time is daunting for even the most seasoned marketers. That's where advanced data and technology come in, informing every consumer-brand interaction, making them a little bit less scary, and a lot more successful.
So how can brand marketers approach real-time campaigns to capitalize on real-time data across their marketing toolbox?
Use advanced video to drive real-time action
Video is increasingly becoming a go-to content marketing tactic for many brands. Not only does it encompass the three main sensory drivers for awareness: sight, sound, and motion, but it now can be used to drive engagement and interaction with advanced creative and targeting strategies.
Some brands are beginning to achieve this with programmatic creative video, also known as real-time content swaps based for specific customer segments -- such as location, weather-targeting, or previous searches/purchases
For instance, a consumer electronics brand looking to drive sales of specific camera units might include an interactive product gallery in its video advertising, showcasing multiple item versions that a specific viewer has searched for in the past. But this time, the product is also served to the viewer with a special promotion that encourages him to buy right then and there.
Get social -- and timely -- around real-world events.
"If it's not on social media, it basically didn't happen." At least that's the assumption that brands such as Mondelez's Oreo and Dr. Pepper make based on the fact that consumers use social media to track hashtags, post photos, offer updates, and otherwise report on live events as they happen. As a result, they're tying their creating real-time social media campaigns to coincide with popular real-life events.
Oreo created a video billboard in London that featured the cookie side of an Oreo moving toward the creamy center of another Oreo to block it out, effectively creating its own "Oreo Eclipse" in tandem with the real-life solar eclipse. Leading up to and during the eclipse, Oreo broadcasted the event live with real-time social updates and interactions with followers who were also documenting it. This creative use of content, social, branding, and product is what makes Oreo a brand we all look to for real-time marketing inspiration.
Dr. Pepper, on the other hand, created its own event rather than relying on forces of nature. The beverage brand set up "lip sync booths" in Time Square to promote Spike TV's Lip Sync Battle, where fans and select social media influencers (who Dr. Pepper identified using real-time and historical data) battled it out in their own lip-syncing sessions. Influencers streamed live footage of the battles via their Periscope and Snapchat accounts, and fans who were not physically present joined in the fun by posting their own videos and voting for their favorites.
The flurry of activity originating from the influencers not only resulted in the sharing of content with millions of followers, it also gave Dr. Pepper a lot more data to use in identifying its most engaged fans and which types of content they respond to.
Double up: Combine video and social for real-time engagement and cross-channel success.
Encouraging participation directly through social or video channels can increase engagement but it can also distract audiences from other content they're viewing. One way that brands can help avoid is this, is by leveraging social media through indirect channels is by incorporating social feeds directly into interactive, branded videos. For example, a CPG brand could encourage audiences to share their favorite recipe ideas (using its products) on Twitter. It would then instantly display users' recipes right in the videos through an in-unit Twitter feed. This lets audiences contribute to the real-time conversation without leaving their video experience.
A gaming brand might use a similar approach by adding a Twitch feed with their video ads, allowing gamers to explore their peers' reactions to the products being advertised. This approach additionally encourages collaboration and shared stories between game fans, increasing their motivation to purchase new products
While leaving a portion of planning to chance may seem scary for some marketers, keeping campaigns nimble and open to this type of real-time optimization reflects the nuances of real-life conversations where ideas are presented, then reacted to, and then refined as the two participants get to better know and understand each other.
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