There was once a day when a computer filled a room. Now it’s in your palm. That’s the story my dad tells me at least. Soon, when my future children are old enough to understand, I’ll tell them how I used to read books and magazines made out of paper and I couldn’t simply touch the screen of my computer to make things happen. Also, I used to walk to school uphill, both ways, in the snow.
It’s the evolution of technology. We know that the televisions we’re watching, the cars we’re driving, and certainly the laptop I’m writing this post on will all seem like relics in 5-10 years. It’s inevitable, and just a matter of time. But the importance to marketers of this evolution is not simply that it’s happening, but the effects of these evolutions on the way we consume our content.
From the early 80’s to the early 00’s, the appearance and capabilities of our computers and televisions changed drastically, but they remained our primary means of content consumption. We still used our phones to call our loved ones and the only place to watch TV was on the TV. But in the last decade, things have turned upside down. The emergence of tablets, e-readers, and streaming audio/video has created a grey area of where exactly we are all consuming content. It’s conceivable that in a day you’ll read a book on your tablet, call your parents on your computer (with video, of course), rent a movie on your video game console and use your phone to watch live television. Audiences are consuming content everywhere and it’s up to content producers to make sure they’re reaching them in the appropriate places.
There’s also evidence that these new channels are not only being used, but result in more content consumption than ever before. According to recent studies, digital readers own (virtually) and read more books than do other readers. Also, tablet users consume a greater variety and volume of content on their devices than users of traditional channels. The inherent interactivity of tablet devices (versus reading the newspaper left on your doorstep) encourages in-depth exploration of content as well. The future of entertainment is poised to result in the embrace of content, branded or otherwise, across non-traditional mediums.
Whether technology is simplifying our world or not, the technology landscape is anything but simple for content marketers. We’ve moved beyond the age where brands need to be convinced that content marketing isn’t optional (if you believe it is, then your ship is about to capsize) into an age where audiences expect to be reached, properly, in all the places they hang out, during the times they want to be reached. This means moving a print magazine onto the tablet, creating engaging 3D games, including social components (ex: tweeting with audience members) during live events, or turning your service into an iPhone app.
This also means that hiring siloed agencies who can only help brands move into a singular discipline, like Facebook or mobile content, won’t fit into a long-term content plan. Yes, you should have a social presence, but how will they help you when the next technology emerges? How will the Facebook agency help you create content for those mediums? If your brand’s strategy is to hire a handful of single-channel agencies (who most likely don’t play nice with each other), how will you adjust to the changing technological landscape? Can you afford to keep adding agencies to your budget?
If nothing else, the paradigm of how we view media has been completely shattered. Televisions aren’t just televisions. Game consoles don’t just play video games. Cell phones don’t just make phone calls. The future of content marketing exists in one crazy, ever-evolving technological solar system, and we’re just living in it. So how will you reach your audience?
Sorry Hansel. The future of content marketing isn’t in your computer…