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DEPARTMENT OF THE FUTURE

A CONTENT AGENCY

DOTF BLOG – Top Video Marketing Trends for 2019

For over a decade, DOTF has been saying that video content is king – and the statistics don’t lie, with over 81% of individuals purchasing a product after viewing video content, and 76% of marketers agreeing that using video has increased their sales.

 

Google also recently announced that auto-playing video previews will be a significant part of mobile searching – and that they’ve been using clever AI to read captions and transcribe audio tracks to make video searchable beyond clever captioning and tagging – making 2019 undoubtedly the year of video.  Whilst our favourite trends from 2018  are still going strong and are definitely informing our picks, here is our outlook for 2019.

 

Vertical Video

Whilst 2018 was the year of diverse aspect ratio, 2019 bows to vertical.

Sure, widescreen still offers cinematic gloss for that YouTube presence (which absolutely should not be underestimated)  and 1:1 looks great on the Insta feed. However, as IGTV,  Stories and Snapchat continue to rise (and Facebook and Instagram post are lost to the incomprehensible world of the algorithm) that lanky 9:16 ratio is where you’ll want your video to go. We’ve been creating and recommending a vertical video for the past couple of years – but in 2019 it’s essential if you want to make sure that your content is seen.

Adidas Originals Superpower Vertical Mobile Ad 2016, directed by Jan Foryś and found on YouTube

E-Learning

Selling isn’t the only path to monetary rewards with video.

Branded video content is obviously the most effective way to engage an audience, leading to increased sales and better brand awareness – however, e-learning content can save employers significant amounts of time and money.

 

Employees have to be trained – and this is often a time-consuming and expensive process. Training video modules that can be done by the individual at home, or in less time and cost than required to take a day out of your employee’s schedule, book a trainer, put on refreshments and all of the other costs and time-wastage that is associated with upskilling.  E-learning can teach more with less and offers flexible engagement in previously unseen ways.

 

Additionally, e-learning content can be combined with promotion in order to engage your audience, and associate the brands with newly acquired knowledge or skills. This has been done with best success by food brands, moving their serving suggestion recipes into the video realm  – and cosmetic brands, engaging to create tutorials of looks featuring their products – but can be applied to a broad range of brands with some creative thinking.

Live Video

Video In The Moment

DOTF prioritises authenticity when it comes to connecting brands with audiences, and the use of the live video function across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitch provide a great opportunity for a real connection with your demographicm with viewers spending more than three times the amount of time on a live video compared to a pre-recorded video.  

Why go live? The main benefits are real-time connection, humanising your brand (which is of ever-increasing importance in 2019, as consumers bring their ethics with their purchasing power), setting customer expectations and the ability for immediate insights into how your audience views your brand.  Also, it can be incredibly cost effective.

You could do a Q&A, like Sephora, take Apple’s lead and bring your global audience to you as you launch a new product, or combine live video with the e-learning trend to broadcast live classes and tutorials – a format particularly popular in the fitness and hospitality sectors.

Our top tip for going live is to work with a content agency who can help to plan your broadcast and offer contingencies and suggestions for live engagements that will bolster your brand and capture your audience. Whilst the brilliance of live video is that your brand and your audience experience simultaneity, sometimes this can go horribly wrong – just ask Lindsay Lohan.


Shoppable Content

Watch, Want, Buy.

 

Whist shoppable content has been around for a while, we imagine that 2019 is the year that it goes mainstream. Shoppable content involves stickers, notes or additional on-content features (such as YouTube has been doing for a few years now) that allows the content viewer to purchase a product featured in the content directly from the content – no additional website trawling. Watch, want, buy.

 

Instagram has joined the game, and whilst they’ve had shoppable posts for a while now, they’ve recently recently introducing product “stickers” (featuring product name, price, description and link to online commerce locations) can be included in Instagram Stories, making it easier to own the product that’s caught your eye.

 

The benefit of shoppable content is that it allows brands to move further away from traditional advertising, and concentrate on authentic engagmenet and building a relationship with their audience – attracting loyal customers and improved sales.

 

Content Length

 

The Long and the Short of It

 

Content length is definitely up for a shake-up in 2019, and whilst the 15-120 second videos will still reign supreme, it’s worth considering looking at significantly shorter videos – and significantly longer.

Whilst Vine may have died, its six-second format left an indelible mark on the video content world. However, that’s not a lot of time to work with. The best way to use that six seconds? Make the content support additional content, working as an element of a larger suite of content, or bigger holistic campaign. You can keep it simple, by ensuring that images, text and colours immediate evoke your brand – or you could go for something quick, cheeky, shocking and fun (following the Vine tradition). In fact, some of the world’s top advertising creative suggest treating the six-second video like a joke. Short. Sharp. Punchline.

 

OW001B – Video 2a – Marcus – Buzzfeed Answers – if you were a girl vignette from Department of the Future on Vimeo.

 

Laminex – Anna – Stop Motion from Department of the Future on Vimeo.

 

MasterCard 6 Seconds from Department of the Future on Vimeo.


On the other end of the spectrum, brands are investing in longer form content, using storytelling to support their brand’s ethos and perception rather than necessarily sell specific products or services. Chevrolet teamed with acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee to create a 17-minute documentary about a young female baseballer. The only overt brand presence are the cars used a mode of transport in the final scene, and rather than closing credits, the film ends on the Chevrolet logo. It’s a lovely, moving film and a big name director gives it legitimacy, and gives the audience a warm feeling about Chevrolet as a brand. Tech and telelcommunications brand took it even further, creating a 30 minute short drama, starring Olivia Munn and Joan Chen, showing technology in (admittedly, dramatized) context.

 

Here at DOTF, we’ve championed long-form branded content, creating half-hour and broadcast hour documentaries for HTC and Deakin University.

 

Deakin University – Business – TVC from Department of the Future on Vimeo.

 

Authenticity

The power of real people.

Influencers and brand ambassadors can be great ways to draw attention to your brand, but at DOTF we’ve always championed authenticity – using real people involved with a brand to represent that brand – and we’re pleased to see this trend emerging for 2019.

Whether it’s the behind-the-scenes crew for Bon Appetit’s test kitchen becoming influencer purely through being real people, doing their jobs, or showing an authentic experience of a student study trip through video diaries and fly-on-the-wall documentaries, as we did for Deakin University, the appeal of the real is on the rise.

Audiences from the Millennial generation and younger are notoriously brutal with brands they see as disingenuous – and this includes the involvement of celebrities and influencers with brands that don’t seem authentic. Even celebrities are happy to call out the hypocrisy, with The Good Place star Jameela Jamil’s calling out Kardashians, Cardi B and the “fit tea” trend for inauthentic representation.

 

Content Partners

Collab to create.

Following on from the authenticity discussion, we foresee that brand collabs – already a significant presence across social media with influencers and personalities – will evolve into content partnerships – brands accessing authenticity and existing audiences through video content creators – with high-quality content with authentic reach as the result.

This is another trends we’re excited about at DOTF, as this is the exact format we’ve used for content creation for over a decade, starting with our youth culture platform, Speaker TV. Whilst content partners could simply mean creating the content for a brand, or incorporating that brand directly into your existing content format, the content becomes more powerful whether both names are brought to the table equally, resulting in new, collaborative content.


Our national campaign for the HTC One was created this way, mixing HTC’s brand strategy with our brand at Speaker TV, resulting in a series of events all along the East Coast, and online content featuring the HTC brand interacting with the Speaker TV demographic in an authentic way.

 

DOTF 10th – Vignette – 2013 – HTC from Department of the Future on Vimeo.

 

What other trends do you see on the horizon? Leave us a comment below!

Day At Nida: How I Learned To Present With Confidence

It’s no secret that acting helps with building confidence. Being in front of a camera or a theatre full of people whilst pretending to be another person requires guts and an unfaltering belief that you are succeeding in suspending your audience’s disbelief. It’s no easy task, that’s for sure.

 

So, when I was invited along to attend a class on presenting with confidence at NIDA, I was expecting something dramatic- to recite Shakespeare in front of each other, or crying on cue. As you can see, I was expecting wild things. What I wasn’t expecting was simply greeting my colleagues.

 

Our instructor for the day, Sarah Grenfell ordered us into a small circle, and with a keen smile on her face told us the first task of the day –

 

“Introduce yourself to each other and include a fun fact.”

 

Confused glances were exchanged. Shuffling awkwardly towards each other as we shook one another’s hands, smiled and said our names. The absurdity of introducing yourself to someone who you’ve worked with for months, and in some cases, for years was not lost on us and soon we were trying to hide our giggling under our breaths. Phrases like “I have a party this weekend!” and “My birthday is coming up!” were floated throughout the room as we exchanged our fun facts.

 

“Now.” Sarah turned to the group. “What was something that stood out when you were introducing yourself?”

 

We looked at each other, unsure of what to say. Other than finding the activity extremely funny, there wasn’t really anything in particular that stood out.

 

“Eye contact.” She smiled. “When I was walking around introducing myself, barely any of you made any eye contact. Why’s that?” The question hung in the air. She seized on the silence to continue her point. “When we’re talking with our friends in our daily conversation, do you notice that you barely make any eye contact? You would rather look at the ground or past your them. Our attention is never focused on the subject we’re talking to. So now,” She clapped her hands and with another smile pushed us into our next activity.

 

“Let’s try this again, but this time, I want to see eye contact.”

 

That proved a harder task than I had imagined.

 

There was something extremely unsettling about staring at someone in their eyes, shaking their hand with as much earnest you can muster, and then telling them you’re planning on going to a concert over the weekend.

 

My confidence didn’t build immediately, and I felt silly and quite inadequate, unsure if I was doing the right thing at all. But that’s the beauty of NIDA’s course – it was a slow, uncertain journey that eventually leads me to claim ownership of my self-esteem. In the words of my instructor of the day: “You are an actor!” And on that day, I was learning how to play someone who was fearless.

 

For the next eight hours, we were assigned various tasks with different purposes; we were told to walk around as if we had a crown perched on top of our head, that escalated to putting on an imaginary cloak, and then a heavy torched fitted to our chests. It turned out that these seemingly odd tasks were intended to correct our posture. We were told to recite rhymes whilst pulling an exaggerated expression. It turns out, that was to improve our enunciation. We were taught how to breathe properly. I learned I have a bad case of “shallow breath” when I’m nervous- and that happens every time I’m around clients, so I always ended up sounding unconvincing, even to myself. The course helped make us aware of and overcome these small unconscious habits we all posses which make us appear unconfident.

 

We learned how to enunciate. We learned how to sit. We learned how to walk into and command a room with a single sustained glance and a nice smile. We learned how to punctuate every sentence with gusto, and how to speak with conviction.

 

Slowly but surely, I took steps towards tweaking my voice, my tone, my posture. It was the little things that did wonders, small changes that I never would’ve considered vital to how I present myself as a person.

 

I walked in expecting to spend eight hours just jumping around, learning how to read off a prompt and jotting notes about acting techniques. In the end, I ended up leaving with valuable presenting skills, interpersonal skills, and a newfound confidence. I learned how to demystify the presentation process, and create the kind of presentations that have an impact and resonance.

 

I would recommend NIDA’s Presenting With Confidence to any corporate group looking for a great team bonding experience with valuable professional outcomes.

 

Can Audience See Through Branded Content?

Instagram

With new rule cracking down on transparency in regards to branded content, influencers and anyone sponsored by brands nowadays is required to add a hashtag ad or hashtag sponsored (although the more inconspicuous option: #sp is more widely used). It looks something like this:

The Kardashians are a prime example of social influencers

 

 

 

So, what does that mean for brands who want to utilise the abundance of Instagram influencers? Are people more likely to be put off with the brand as a whole if they know for a fact that their favourite online personalities are actually being paid off? Could genuineness be the only way for brands to be received well?

Not really.

The old-fashioned way of marketing seems to have fallen out of favour with today’s audience. Bombarding your audience within the face, over the top, or even just outright annoying ads can cause people to just tune away or even perceive your brand with negative connotations. Instead, if you attach an influencer onto your name, audiences are more generally going to try the product you’re trying to sell as they perceive it as a recommendation from their favourite celebrities rather than just an outright hard sell.

 

Facebook

Facebook takes a much different approach when it comes to selling products. Instead, there are “sponsored posts” where it takes the form of a normal post with the added benefit of constantly appearing on your timeline.

With an added option of putting in money so that your post appears more often, tracking the analytics of how many people have viewed it (separated from organic searches and ‘paid’ searches, which consists of audiences found through Facebook forcing it on their feed). The benefits seem to be quite limitless.

But does it work?

I’m going to preface this by saying just because people see your posts does not mean they’re actively engaging with your brand. There’s a huge engagement between viewing, liking, and commenting on a Facebook ad and actually taking on a course of action (buying or actively engaging with the brand in question).

So with that being said, it’s probably not as effective as Instagram.

Unless you have a huge following already in the very beginning on this platform, it’s hard to branch out organically to other people unless you’re willing to put in serious money and also follow the rules of Facebook ad posting; which is less words more photos. And when it comes to the question of audiences reacting to such post- the general rule of thumb is anything with the word ‘Sponsored’ on the top that appears on your feed five times a day would undoubtedly turn some people off.

Twitter

Again, the effectiveness of ‘Sponsored’ post comes into question. Unlike the other two platforms, the 240 character limit also severely limit what a brand can spread in terms of their messages. On the other hand: quick, concise, and catchy tweets can work wonders!

Often, companies and brands have taken a much more unique approach when it comes to branding themselves on Twitter: instead of focusing too much on pushing the newest product or announcing their latest campaign, they’ve adopted personalities. Akin to human interaction, these social-savvy companies opted out of marketing in the most traditional sense and seek to build rapport and relationship with their audiences.

Wendy’s sassy and funny personality has garnered internet fame

Creativity is never a bad thing when it comes to standing out from your opponents. Simply paying Twitter to have your post pushed to the priority section on everyone’s’ newsfeed is no longer a viable way of ensuring your popularity as a brand. It never hurts to crack a few jokes here and there.

Thus, if you are thinking of Twitter as a possible platform, it’s time to start treating your audience as a friend to talk to. Don’t be shy to be more casual, more fun, and most importantly, be authentic- it’s really easy to see through the company’s marketing techniques nowadays.  

What is Content and why do I need it?

We want to have a chat about the c-word. No, not that one. We want to talk to you about content.

In the world of digital media, it seems everyone is creating content. Where once you’d see copywriter, filmmaker, photographer or blogger, you’ll find ‘content creator’. And of course, everyone knows that in 2018, content is king. But what does that actually mean?

Feeling Content?

Content is defined as ‘the information or experiences that are directed towards an end-user or experience,’ which is a broad description, to say the least. To be simultaneously more and less specific, it’s anything you interact with – it could be a film, a book, a song, the radio, a photograph, a piece of artwork, an event – anything that is meant to engage the senses and deliver some kind of message.

Digital content, therefore, can be blogs, videos, music, web pages, eBooks, email newsletters, social media copy, photographs, design, AR, VR, apps, games and anything else you could possibly create online.

A content creator is a person that makes these things – creatives, artists, marketers, bloggers, filmmakers, musicians – all could come under the banner of the content creator, and whilst it becomes a necessity to diversify skills in the digital age, a single content creator could fill all of these roles.

Content is a currency of the digital age.  

In the era of social media, content gets attention, likes, shares, and eyes on your brand. Further still, content is the core of your brand, your brand DNA. On its own, a great logo and a snappy name may make your brand memorable, but creating a story around your brand and engaging your customers with ongoing related content will build loyalty, and draw new customers.

Building A Brand is Telling A Story


Your social media and online presence act as a shopfront for your brand, no matter how big or small, it’s a point of engagement for your customers and exists for a single reason – to connect to your audience. A strong content strategy based on audience-led analysis, such as our GENOME MAPPING service, will determine the strongest forms of content for your brand, and the most efficient ways to leverage the content for the best audience engagement.  Accumulated content creates not only a strong image of your brand for the public but a traceable history, this continuing story increases the ability for loyal and untapped customers to trust your brand.

 

Google Glory

Everyone knows that a successful brand needs a web presence – social media accounts and preferably a website, but to get your brand seen on Google, you need to get onto that front page. There have been studies, courses and millions of words written on SEO, but the content is one of the most organic ways to get those keywords to read and get your brand climbing the ranks. Content on websites and social media should always strengthen your brand – and keep in mind that video content will be prioritized, as Google favours YouTube results and shows them at the top of the page.

Fortunately, building a strong brand and creating content is becoming easier and easier. It no longer requires a marketing manager or an advertising agency. Full-service content agencies, like DOTF, can create a bespoke content strategy that is cost-effective and tailored to your brand, using audience-led analytics to understand your brand, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all strategy, helping you to create content and tell your story the way you want it told.