2016 has definitely been a year where content marketing went from a discussion point to a business imperative in Asia. We’ve moved from the ‘why?’ of content marketing to the ‘how?’ and, while we have a long way to go towards achieving excellence and maturity in the region, content marketing is here and businesses - large and small - are understanding and embracing it.
But what’s next? What are the trends we expect to see in 2017? We asked the board members and guests of the Asia Content Marketing Association (ACMA) for insights and here it is. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Connecting the dots
In 2017 I think we will see more and more content marketers connecting more of the dots in the ecosystem - from data and analytics through to rich storytelling to commerce. It's absolutely critical for content creators to be able to do this in a market where production margins are being eroded, competition and audience expectations are increasing and attention spans are shortening.
CEO - GroupM Content Asia Pacific
The changing face of influencers
With reduced organic reach, influencers have become an important part of the marketing mix. There’s a trend within influencer marketing to move away from employing A-list celebrities with huge reach but little relevance, to brands starting to realise that their budgets are spent more effectively recruiting micro-influencers who have a genuine relevance to the brand, rather than using one A-list influencer. These influencers allow brands to get in front of a relevant audience that’s likely to be more engaged and the influencer comes across as more authentic.
Simply put, a micro-influencer is someone with between 10,000 to 150,000 followers on Instagram, whereas a mid to top-tier influencer has over 150,000. Although a user’s amount of followers varies for each account, we’re beginning to realise that this particular group of individuals has the ability to change the way brands work with influencers forever.
Influencer marketing will continue to mature, as brands struggle to reach people organically, along with the rise of adblockers, meaning brands will need to use influencers as part of their distribution strategy.
Founder and Managing Director, Blink Asia
Woe, woe and wooooooooooh…
In Cassandra mode, I have two predictions. The first is that we’re all screwed…we’ll be replaced by robots. Recently, a friend at a global agency that, out of respect for its privacy, I’ll refer to only as Ogilvy, which also happens to be its name (I know; what are the chances?) made a series of increasingly complex arrangements for a lunch meeting with a potential supplier. Only afterwards did he learn that the arrangements on the supplier’s end had been made 100% by bot.
My other Cassandra conjecture is a huge rise in the implementation of content curation. With increasingly shrinking budgets, I fear that ‘curating’ existing content from the internet rather than commissioning original stuff will prove only too attractive to the bean counters in procurement.
In Pollyanna mode, however, I’m predicting (with fingers and all other extremities firmly crossed) that 2017 is the year we finally get affordable, accessible VR. The potential to engage consumers like never before and improve the marketing of even the smaller brands through experiential content is truly exciting.
Founding Partner, Contented
Sorting business from the inside out
Focused on my specific area, I want to highlight two critical aspects that must happen in Asia for brands to not just embrace content marketing, but to flourish by committing long-term to it.
The first is getting businesses organised and transformed from the inside out. The whole business must get behind content marketing, and while the marketing team enables it, everyone needs to get on board and it starts at the top. Content marketing needs to become the beating heart of every business, which means the existing siloes of organisations (siloes of separation and internal competition) must come down, and collectively, everyone become aligned and focused 100% to serve the customer. It’s truly transformational stuff.
The second is employee advocacy. This is going to be a hot trend of 2017, but too many businesses (and those selling employee advocacy solutions) are only looking at employees as mouthpieces for brands. This is definitely not what employee advocacy is about.
Employees must be advocates for themselves first, the brand second. And not only are employees advocates, but content creators in their own right. This is how we move from content shock to content value, because it is created by the people who know your business and know your customer.
Both trends are big mind shifts for businesses, but the ones who get it, understand it and unleash the pure power of their employees; will see truly magnificent results. It’s time to unleash the humans of business – the reason your customers do business with you.
CEO and Founder, The Digital Conversationalist
Quality content only game in town
Hmmm, *strokes chin*, I predict the VR/360 consumer hype bubble will burst as the realisation dawns that wearing a digital blindfold no matter what it's screening is not a comfortable experience. Strictly niche and professional uses will be the end result of the VR/360 hype.
Quality content will be the only game in town worth playing in. Enlightened clients are already rewarding those willing to resist the race to the bottom that is competing on price.
New terminologies will start to take hold. I've been thinking a lot about how storytelling as part of a feed is now a thing, what do we call that? The old broadcast and print terminologies will slowly be replaced.
CEO and Co-Founder, Click2View
2017 will be the year of delegation
We've seen how powerful great creators can be in some of the stand out executions of 2016, but we've also seen how innovation can be stifled by hierarchies and committees. In 2017 we'll see senior management embracing core messages and style guides as their primary control mechanisms, whilst genuine innovation will be delegated to the practitioners that deliver it best - inspired imaginations, informed insights and a flair for originality that transcends everyday thinking.
Founder, Mutiny Asia
Time of content eco-systems
2017 will finally be the year clients buy in to the notion of the content ecosystem. The understanding that all of their platforms and customer touchpoints, both online and offline, need to be connected with one voice. The content ecosystem ensures that customers get a consistent message and experience wherever they touch the brand.”
CEO, Novus Asia
2017 will be the year of personalised or adaptive content. With programmatic becoming the increasing norm, we’ll see content ideas re-purposed into multiple iterations; allowing for greater personalisation with data and tech driving the relevant distribution. However, tech won’t rule the industry. We’ll still need humans to develop unique insights, a sound strategy, great content creation, solid execution and analysts to interpret results.
Managing Director, MEC Wavemaker
Partnerships and M&As
This is the time for strategic partnerships and M&As across industries, verticals and platforms. This is the time to redefine the role of content and the role of access. Our role as content marketing leaders will be to provide the methodology, process and management of the role of content across these new constellations.
The Microsoft/LinkedIn acquisition marked the dawn of this new era, not just a new trend for M&As but a clear recognition by tech companies that they need to invest in content, content platforms and distribution channels. The interesting shift in focus here comes from what’s clearly a recognition by companies that the future formula is to own both the access to the audience, the content and the conversation.
BandLab partnering with Rolling Stones and AT&T acquiring Time Warner are perfect examples of this, where they are securing the ownership of a bigger ecosystem. With social and amplification channels increasingly becoming paid only and the organic aspect dying away, the importance of building your house on your own property and not on rented land is increasingly clear and I believe these M&As and strategy partnerships are part of responses to this shift.
The race is now on to ensure company-owned property controls the access, the content and the conversations across the ecosystem. I think we will see the AliBabas and Ciscos of this world acquiring the Walt Disney's and NYT's of this world!
Global Strategy Director, King Content
Last but not least, it’s all about the data
Content Marketing has been a growing area of focus in recent years. In 2017, we expect to see data being utilised to far greater effect - both in measuring the performance of content as brands strive to understand exactly what is capturing the attention of their consumers, and in measuring the effective amplification of content. This is vital if you want people to actually read/watch what you're producing. Knowing which channels are the right ones to reach your audience is just as important as knowing what interests them!
Managing Director and Co-Founder, PerformanceAsia
What prediction resonated with you? What was missed? What contradiction did you pick up? While you’re at it, connect with the team leading content marketing in Asia. Company websites and LinkedIn profiles all included.
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Happy Holidays and here’s to an amazing 2017 for content marketing in Asia.
The Asia Content Marketing Association.
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