How brands will win with truly exceptional content

by on 13th March 2014

Online consumers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, critical and as a collective, they’re changing the rules of commerce.

Leaning on social recommendations from friends and upon influence by experts to steer their purchase decisions, the “discovery” of brands through their content, not their advertising is sparking an emerging revolution. That revolution is focused on the art of Content Marketing.

Social networks have changed the way consumers find, consider and purchase products with 47% of Americans now saying that Facebook has a greater impact on their purchasing behaviour than any other social network (Source: State of Search) and 50% of Twitter users saying they are more likely to purchase from brands they follow (Source: War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing).

These behaviours require brands to think differently about the discovery process a consumer follows before purchasing. A lone TV ad campaign may not be enough to win a “Like” from a Facebook account, which in turn means the opportunity to achieve visibility in front of multiple Facebook News Feeds is lost. Instead, entering an individual’s world with a unique, engaging, useful message in the form of an actionable, entertaining, informative, inspiring or occasionally annoying content marketing is now the convention for competitive modern day marketers.

Our consumers getting smart, fast. To catch their attention, Marketing successfully requires extreme innovation. The innovators in content experience innovate with creative, executed inside competent technical packaging. The level of competition brands face in online marketing is why cutting edge, “front end” web development practices are always in such high demand.

In a new study conducted by LinkedIn, 58% of marketers are set to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014 as consumers, in turn, increase their demands for better content. In an attempt to provide the best experiences to all consumers’ brands, like Red Bull, have innovated with rich content experiences to support brand growth.

All brands, no matter how large or small, must compete on the same playing field. As an example, Mailchimp delight in producing innovative, highly engaging annual reports based in HTML5 and built in haml, coffeescript, sass and ruby.


Consider the skills required by the modern digital marketer – story telling, customer research, the ability to craft great creative and promote content to the world alongside the technical vocabulary needed to articulate what they need to achieve.

Of course, you’ve got to have a story, and if it can get a reaction, it’ll work. But, the story teller needs to be able to communicate. Technology is the medium via which we do this. An understanding of the technology is therefore fundamental to that goal.

It’s not always the brands that we look to for inspiration, however. In fact it’s the publishers who are leading the field with the techniques that digital marketers crave most.

Polygon’s X-Box Review

Long Form Article Content, like this X-Box Review on Polygon will become a standard article type in every brand’s content experience, breathing new life into what we already know about the tired infographic, video and “classic” article marketing techniques of the past. The use of “SVG” (Scalable Vector Graphics) makes the console wireframes more engaging and as a technology, it is quite simple for a web developer to implement.


Snow Fall

Snow Fall (Source: New York Times) has become famous in front end web developer circles, as an example of incredibly detailed work. It’s a long form piece of several thousand words, with assets including CG rendered maps, videos, image galleries, and rendered with some beautiful JavaScript transitions.


Greenland Melting

Greenland melting is a large feature piece from Rolling Stone, combining some beautiful imagery and video, with design that in turns contrasts and blends seamlessly with the other elements. Small features like drop caps, the large feature images and bold typography reflect a print aesthetic, whilst the inclusion of video and animations/transitions keeps the piece feeling modern and digital.


Serengeti Lion

A tie-in with the August 2013 print magazine, this massive feature from The National Geographic repurposes visual and audio assets already acquired on location into a huge interactive piece. The simple interaction and design allows the massive images and video to shine, whilst adding subtly to it with the audio tracks. That said, the entire piece (offline too) covered two years, 240,000 photos and more than 200 hours of footage, shot using cameras, robots and aerial drones.


Content marketing has rapidly grown over the last couple of years, and another spurt of growth in 2014 can be expected, as 70% of marketers say that content marketing has increased their brand awareness; 59% believe it supports sales growth; and 45% say it has reduced their advertising costs (Source: iMedia Connection).

Interactive content marketing achieves four-to-five times more page views than static content (SnapApp). Therefore, given the necessity to create content that is interesting, original, engaging, sticky and useful, our industry will hopefully see an end to vacuous, “link bait” and “like bait” projects that have no long term value, and a beginning to advanced digital storytelling with cutting edge web technology.

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