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Guest Column: 3 key criteria for effective digital content in advertising

Given that content is being continuously integrated across any platform that is, or can be, networked, let’s begin by dispensing with the term “digital content”. All content in the future will be digitised in more ways than one. The intermediate future of digital content is, therefore, its demise as a separate creature - all content is likely to become agnostic or malleable to its delivery mechanism. 

The story of content consumption is the really interesting tale here; and today’s digital strategies are merely a consequence of how marketers and advertisers have had to adapt to effectively reach the consumer.  

Let’s look back at the golden age of the traveling salesperson - going door-to-door with only charisma, a product demo, and persistence at her disposal. Content for her was the product catalogue, a great spiel, presentation skills, and perhaps a referral. But this was costly for brand owners, and the advent of mass communication through radio and television allowed for greater access to consumers - but at the cost of the personalised sales pitch. 

Content is content - it has been around since there was something to sell. What changes is the manner in which the content is delivered (format) and the means and personalisation with which it reaches the consumer (from the salesperson to Siri or Alexa). What will not change is the truth of the content we choose to deliver – it must be reachable, engage their senses, and be desirable or memorable. 

When thinking about the future of content in advertising, it must satisfy these three broad criteria:

  1. Accessibility: The content must reach the consumer wherever they may be; whether travellingon work, working on a vacation, or loosening their purse-strings at a music festival
  2. Relevance: We might be nearly identical from a biological standpoint, but we define ourselves as unique. The messaging of the content has to respect that
  3. Deference: The days of forcing down a piece of communication are well past due - brands that haven’t yet recognised that might find at the other end an irate and former customer

And with the ongoing marriage of intelligent data analytics, mobility, and mass communication, we might just be coming around full circle - to the era of the virtual traveling salesperson. Between Google/Alphabet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Apple, and the battery of Games & Apps on your phone, there is enough data available for today being merely the beginning of a future of great content advertising. 

The future of content need not be as clinical as Gattaca, as dire as The Matrix or as intuitive as Minority Report. Technologies continue to evolve; and as the consumer evolves with it, as advertisers we seek for the best way to tailor content and potently deliver it.  

Our success will, however, depend on the quality of content that is served. We all love a good story, from the first time our ancestors gathered around a fire to the retelling of the last party we went to. It becomes all the more critical at a time where sensory overload is commonplace and attention spans are unforgiving. So we better have something that reaches our consumer, and engages them in a meaningful way on their own terms. So, while we might want to become the new traveling salesperson - do bear in mind that the old one has been relegated to history. 

(Sunil Tulsiani is Managing Partner at Prodigitz Media, a full-service digital agency he co-founded along with digital advertising veteran Khushboo Tulsiani. Set up in August 2013, Prodigitz combines data, strategy, creative and media to deliver measurable and meaningful digital experiences for its brands.)

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