FEATURE 

Opportunities & Threats: Customer Media

In the most challenging year the content marketing industry has faced, our theme for the year has been agility, writes Cedar’s Clare Broadbent.

By Clare Broadbent

Opportunities & Threats: Customer Media
"In a zoom-fatigued world, a quality magazine in your hands is an utter joy." Photograph: Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Every brand we work with shifted in their business; whether that was Tesco delivering food to a nation in lockdown, or British Airways navigating a travel landscape in constant flux. We needed a new approach to content and media – which meant innovation.

The value of the newsroom to branded content and media has come into its own. We win by integrating data, insights and ideas at speed and delivering new tools. Despite the challenges, we have achieved some of the highest content engagement scores I’ve seen in my 30 years in the business. What we have experienced in 2020 will form the basis for our opportunities in 2021.

This year saw hundreds of thousands of people do their first online shop, order their first Just Eat, make their first FaceTime call to their families. Seamless interactivity is now the norm, and the industry is shifting from content production, to content as an experience. Building digital communities around content will be fundamental to generating reach and loyalty.

But one thing we have learnt in 2020 is that print is not dead, it's alive and kicking. Audiences report higher brand warmth as a result of engaging with print than almost any other medium. When we sent a special edition of High Life to BA’s frequent fliers, the response was off the charts. In a zoom-fatigued world, a quality magazine in your hands is an utter joy.

As we face uncertain economic times, marketing budgets will no doubt come under pressure, so helping brands to monetise and understand the value of their media is a real opportunity. The traditional media industry outlook is challenging, but with the right partners, brands who have captive audiences on their owned channels can drive new revenues.

But with an unrelenting pace of change, comes the threat that our people – our most important asset – will simply burn out. With a hard start to 2021 predicted, we must do all we can to support and protect the talent in our industry. Looking after their wellbeing, so that they can continue to innovate and be creative in 2021 and beyond.

And finally, we have to look at diversity. The murder of George Floyd sparked a vital conversation about race and diversity that went deeper than ever before. I believe as an industry we have a lot more to do to deliver representation, diversity and equality. We must attract new talent and ensure our content is better representative of the communities we serve. We have a unique position to touch millions of consumers through content. The diversity, equality and inclusion agenda must remain a priority and we must deliver progress.

Seamless interactivity is now the norm, and the industry is shifting from content production, to content as an experience.

This article was first published in the Publishing Partners Guide, an annual directory distributed with InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.