Opinion

Brands must get better at short-form content

Short-form content isn't just another industry buzz phrase. It's real, and its popularity among consumers is on the rise, writes Pippa Glucklich, co-CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group.

Short-form content: brands need to be nippy to reach consumers who are short on time
Short-form content: brands need to be nippy to reach consumers who are short on time

It is a medium that, one way or another, is permeating the everyday vernacular. 

As time-sensitivity increases, spending less time with consumers but in a more meaningful way, could be more valuable as a means of building a positive and sustainable relationship 

A good example of this is a tweet posted recently by British astronaut Tim Peake calling for "short film" submissions for the #Principa project (a fantastic initiative by the way, if you haven’t already, check it out).   

Back down here on earth, you just have to look at the explosion of platforms such as Snapchat, where videos of one second in length are commonplace among their 100m-plus user base.

With something like 7bn total video views a day, Snapchat is now rumoured to have signed up several global advertisers for this year’s Super Bowl – a significant improvement on last year where Snapchat’s sales ambitions for the event didn’t materialise as hoped.

Snapchat has also disclosed plans to improve its ad targeting and is focused on building an advertising business to rival that of Facebook.

How the marketing and media communities choose to approach these new opportunities will be revealing. 

Short-form puts brands in the moment

The shift towards short-form content, and the resulting increase in opportunities, appears to know no bounds.

At the beginning of this year, Twitter announced it will broadcast Periscope videos live in its news feed. A smart move, it presents a new opportunity for brand advertisers, although they won’t be the only ones to benefit.

News publishers and celebrities will also be able to harness their Twitter followers and generate richer, live, ‘in the moment’ experiences to produce deeper engagement. And, at the end of last year, BBC journalists were briefed to emulate the likes of Buzzfeed and Vice by making more informal and 'friendly' short videos.

Traditionally, advertisers have sought to spend more time and budget with consumers to build affinity (60 second TV ads, metrics based on high dwell times etc) yet short-form content is now turning that thinking on its head.

As time-sensitivity increases, spending less time with consumers but in a more meaningful, relevant and credible way, could be equally - or more - valuable as a means of building a positive and sustainable relationship. 

Additionally, with the ongoing rise of mobile platforms and user generated content, brands must strive to interact with consumers during fleeting moments when they are in a specific location, mood state or viewing a particular piece of content. Short-form content is developing as a key method for advertisers to engage with consumers in real-time and the opportunities, if carefully and strategically distilled, are huge.

And we all know the pressure is on brands to be ready to react instantly at key cultural moments or when a real-life experience goes viral.

A recent and good example being #DrummondPuddleWatch, where PaddyPower and Maoam were quick to the punch and created snappy yet relevant responses to the user-generated phenomenon.

n true Paddy Power form, the bookmaker asked its Twitter followers to go to the puddle wearing Paddy Power pants with a chance of winning a £100 free bet. Followers responded in masses to the tweet, demonstrating just how impactful short-form content can be when it is delivered during a relevant moment.

So for me the evidence is there. If brands get it right, short-form content can add significant value to and enhance a consumer’s experience and day-to-day life. In my view it’s a technique more and more advertisers should be considering and few can ignore - with ad blocking on the rise, those that can engage their target audiences with a purposeful, credible and, (where possible) timely, approach will win out.