As we kickstart 2024, we asked David Parker, someone who has been leading from the frontline of marketing technology for more than 25 years at McCann, Kimberly-Clark, and PMI to give us his thoughts on the technology challenges for content marketing over the next 12 months.

1. Consumption is up, dwell time is down

The first challenge is that consumers are absorbing content at an ever-increasing rate over ever-increasingly dispersed communication platforms whilst the time of that consumption is shorter. It’s no longer minutes or 30-second units – it’s three seconds and that’s a continual challenge because yet more content is coming after it. The saying that “today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish’n’chip paper” is still relevant, but it’s not tomorrow, it’s three seconds after you read it.

2. The Consumer is in control

Brands must understand in the new dynamics of content, the consumer is firmly in control of the content valuation. There is also a misconception over what good content is. Content has to be a story that involves a dialogue, a communication between two entities. It must be about listening which is a situation many brands often avoid. We’re still statement-based, where we should in fact be inquisitive and ask consumers what “they would like us to know about them” to improve what we offer. This status change is the concept of content valuation in terms of the amount of time it becomes consumed, values of the content, and the data received.

Snapshots of half-second video frames shouting “I’m a brand!” is not content. The brand should draw the “consumer in” and engage accordingly. I desire brands that make me think: “That’s interesting, I am actually being asked my perception of the brand.” But brands are defensive to this because they don’t like the reality of connection of being given actual feedback.

With zero-party data (ZPD), cookie issues, and the control of consent, marketers will have to think more about how to use short-form content to understand their audiences and then find similar audiences to reach their target. Simplistically, we will move towards much earlier known first-party data interactions, which is probably best for everyone, consumer and brand alike.

3. Put data at the center of our content

There’s one single strategic equation for measuring consumer experience and that is:

consumer experience <=> content + data

But, the performance of content is still very time-consuming, as it’s measured during activation. Just try using Google’s Performance Max campaigns, to understand the dynamics of the interaction between the “content+audience+paid” strategy! We still talk about data, we do not talk about insights or how to take action to change the outcome, this is what really matters. In essence, don’t measure what you can’t understand, don’t analyze what’s not insightful, and don’t draw insights if they can’t be used to change the outcome in real time.

Brands have to be clear about what they mean by levels of content quality, and what it means for a business in terms of actually valuing that investment, it’s so dependent on channel, demographics, and behavior.

There’s no point in collecting masses of data into a data lake if you can’t extract insights and take actions that change the outcome in real-time. This is still not well understood by most brands. 

They run content but are not altering it in real-time, they’re not asking what actions can be taken in real-time to change the outcome before we spend all their money. They have budget reviews after the event, not during it. It’s an effectiveness issue around content that is not understood. This leads to media investments “being left on the cutting room floor” often never even seeing a channel nor a consumer!

Brands are still producing ten fixed assets, one runs and nine end up on the floor, where’s the content matrix, where’s the dynamic ad units? The budgets of non-working dollars versus working dollars is vastly imbalanced because the emphasis is put on content and less on the channel of execution.

In strategy that’s still a challenge with the content operations. We talk about content strategy around data strategy, but it only gets validated in the execution.

Ultimately, we need more science around content from an effectiveness and efficiency perspective. If we atomize content and construct it around the consumer, you can manage with less content, because the exponential growth of content is going to eat all your working capital. You will produce more and more but never get it to market.

David Parker is a seasoned marketing and digital leader with roots in digital business, omnichannel marketing, and technology. David’s 25+ year international career and skills have been developed at the transformational point of leveraging consumer data + content. David has been Vice-Presidenl of Digital at PMI, the Global Content Marketing Strategy & Technology at Kimberly-Clark, and the SVP Global Director of Digital at McCann.

Have a chat with the team at Medialake to learn how we can help you manage your content in 2024.