by Caroline Castrillon
Chris Hood is a digital strategist and technology entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in online entertainment and marketing for TV, film, music and video games. Previously, he worked as Director of Web Technologies and Digital Marketing at Fox Broadcasting. He currently teaches in the IT department for Southern New Hampshire University.
UnboundID: Companies are talking more and more about content marketing and video streaming as key marketing activities. What’s changed in these practices and what is getting harder or easier for marketers?
Hood: While these trends are not new, people are understanding them better. These tactics evolve around how we want to engage with consumers. The total amount of content available continues to grow and it started with the introduction of TV, and then cable, and then people moved to online TV with Netflix and Hulu and others. Generally, people don’t care so much where the content is coming from but if they are able to consume what they want and when they want to consume it. If you want to attract people to your website, you need to provide content that is relevant, interesting and shareable. Once you’re able to do that, how do we keep them? That’s when you have to look at introducing variety, such as through podcasts and videos.
Content is the means to connect and get people to engage and stay with your brand. As consumers we still have a very short span. On Facebook if you’re scrolling down the newsfeed and see a video, you want to see in a few seconds whether it’s worth watching the whole thing.
UnboundID: Ad blockers are one example of tools that attempt to thwart marketers’ engagement efforts. What other barriers exist for marketers today and how can we overcome them to build good customer relationships?
Hood: Ten percent of all users are blocking ads now. From a marketing point of view, ad blocking might actually be a good thing because it is forcing us to find new ways to be relevant. Now, marketers have to come up with new channels and methods that don’t rely on ads. People are paying more to get services like Netflix and Pandora without commercials, and intrusive ads are just one problem. Nobody is clicking on these banner ads that are still all over the Internet.
Single sign-on is one example of a technology that helps make content access easier across many sites and applications, and therefore breaks down the barriers between companies and their audiences. You’ve got to make the experience quick, relevant and easy for the user. I am a huge Disney fan. I live near Disneyland and I go to the park often. But I still don’t click on any ads for Disney because I’m getting the content I need through other channels, like social.
UnboundID: SnapChat is the social media buzz right now. For branding, this makes potential sense for B2C companies targeting Millennials, but what about for B2B companies?
Hood: First consider the demographics of SnapChat. About 45 percent of users are between 18 and 24, so if your product or service targets that demographic, you are in a much better position to succeed. SnapChat is so popular because it has become a replacement for texting and the reason is because messages are not retained. There is a clear privacy value in using it. I have a friend with a 16-year-old daughter who uses this to communicate with her mom all the time. For marketers, it’s a potential branding tool but there’s not a core ROI you can measure. People are not using SnapChat to discover products or search for them and my guess is most users really don’t want to be marketed to on this platform. For B2B companies, it’s not relevant at all. I look at SnapChat as just one more channel for a large brand like Disney to promote their products, in this case films.
UnboundID: Sharing and social media have not slowed down, even though the players continue to change. This does bring about privacy concerns, yet the average consumer doesn’t seem to care much given the volume of activity on top social media sites and apps. Is there a solution here?
Hood: It’s not just about social media. There is a privacy risk with everything we use that is digital, such as connected devices like smart locks and cars. Because everything is becoming connected in some way, the consumer point of view is that the security should just be there. Consumers expect that Facebook and Instagram are securing everything for them automatically. User-centric design is the term for what people want to use and what is comfortable for them, but now security-centric design is what we are hearing about more. These terms are almost one and the same. If users believe that companies are going to protect them and then those companies don’t do that, I tend to feel that people will find something that is more secure. That’s why SnapChat so popular; it was built with privacy in mind.
UnboundID: What else is interesting to you on the 12-month horizon for digital marketing trends?
Hood: Big data or what we sometimes call predictive analytics. This helps us realize what the latest trends are with consumers and from that insight, we can create new tools to offer predictive experiences. Another way of describing this is personalized content. Every time someone comes to your site or app, the content is refreshed based on the latest information about that individual, such as what they bought or interests that might be filtered in through social media.
This is related to identity management. If you already know who I am and can connect to all my devices, that increases the relevancy. My refrigerator is connected to the Internet and it can discern what I need and then even place an order at the local grocery store or send me coupons. Of course I still go to the grocery store on my own! But this trend, as witnessed by the popularity of wearables, is that by sharing data between different devices and apps we are able to help people, make recommendations, or even improve their quality of life.