‘Shopable’ content: the distraction in the quest to win consumers’ hearts and minds

Asos: model Charlotte Free stars in promotional Christmas videoHere we are on Cyber Monday. I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the industry has woken up to the power of video content in engaging consumers, which bodes well for 2013. The belief that the future is all about ‘shopable content’ however shows why 80% of investments into online video are still wasted. Brands, and agencies, are missing a trick.

Click to purchase is currently doing very well – you only have to look at Stinkdigital’s campaign for ASOS to see this – but, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the be all.  Where the campaign is effective is in its amazing interactivity and incredible design, making it instantly sharable an leaving you with the feeling of ‘How the hell did they manage that?’ 

Consumers want to feel like they’re getting something of added value – entertainment, additional experiences or an insight into the behind the scenes action – all which lead to a greater connection to the brand or product. Indeed, you only have to look at the popularity of the growing number of “making of” films and clips about product provenance to see that showing more of a brand’s core values can be as effective, if not more so, than embedding click to purchase technology into your videos.

Agencies and brands are switched onto this.  But there is still a disconnect with them knowing it and being able to make it happen;  Writing award winning 30 second ads is a completely different discipline to creating a flow of engaging video content. Normally it comes down to one simple question which is vastly ignored – Why would the consumer want to watch it? Far too often brands make the old mistake of thinking about what they should say rather than why any audience would want to listen. 

There is a middle ground where content is compelling enough to both sell products and enhance the brand.  This is where video content can really come into its own, creating trust and loyalty in the brand that can not only lead to sales but can also guarantee future success. The recent work we have been doing for Nissan Juke around Built to Thrill isn’t about selling the car. It’s about giving viewers an entertaining experience when they watch and therefore enhancing the brand.

This middle ground, where content is designed to be shareable rather than shopable, has the added benefit of getting consumers to endorse your brand. This is something that appears highly on most brands’ lists – they want to be the brand that consumers want, the brand behind viral hits such as Fenton, and the brand that is front of mind.

Occupying this middle ground is not easy. It requires a significant investment from agencies, both in terms of time and money, to really getting under the skin of consumers and understand what it is that will make them engage.

As with any TV programme, any piece of branded content/online film is only as good as the contributors within it, so making sure the characters are compelling and consumers will enjoy watching them, is a must. Spending time hitting the phones, doing preliminary interviews and making sure these people are up to the task will pay dividends when it comes to filming. It’s an investment that cannot be ignored.

Creating compelling video content will undoubtedly be key to winning the hearts and minds of consumers in 2013. Those agencies that up their investment now and implement processes that have a reason to engage at the core will be the ones winning the awards, and market share for their brands, this time next year.

Adam Penny, Managing Director at Connected Pictures.