The new attention pie is causing new challenges to content creators and content providers. Good news: with great challenges also come great opportunities. To cease those, content providers should take a close look and consider three factors when developing new optimized content.
There is a whole aura of new devices that have only started exiting in the past few years. In the past ‘devices’ used to be verticalized. We had books for reading, radio to listen to, TV to watch. With new devices, we can do most of these activities on most of our devices. Content that worked on TV won’t necessarily work on mobile so content providers need to come up with new formats to meet the expectation of the new consumers whose content consumption needs have changed with the evolution of the devices.
Let’s talk about formats. Did you ever think about why your iPhone looks like it does? You probably didn’t. It’s because TV industry decided HD would be 16:9 ratio. There was a lot of HD content available so designers did what they thought was most logic – they adapted a modern device to an old format. People have tendency to copy old formats. We see that it kind of works so we follow the same pattern. Think of pre-roll and TV. The difference between old format and new format is still not clear. However it is the providers who do not simply reformat their content to fit new devices but take advantage of their constraints are the ones who will win. Think about the GIF that has been popular on the web for quite a few years and is great to translate events, movie moments and situations into short, humorous moments. Or Vines, GIF-like looping videos from Twitter. Before Vine existed, have you ever thought that it was possible to tell a story in 6 seconds? No you didn’t. You probably didn’t think it was even possible to pee in that amount of time, forget storytelling. Now we can tell stories in 6 seconds. Most importantly, brands can tell stories in 6 seconds! Just take a look at Oreo or GE.
Moment is a new element in the content equation. One that is so obvious yet so often forgotten. When we look at the legendary ad from Apple that was aired during 1984 Super Bowl, it has become legendary in the first place because of the moment it was aired at – with millions of excited people watching it at the same time during one of the biggest annual events in the American culture. Would the experience be the same if an individual watched in by himself in the corner? Of course not. The moment is crucial to our content consumption and big public events are definitely great to capture people’s attention. But people are experiencing a lot of major personal moments like graduating or getting a job or having a baby. It is these tiny personal moments that generate action. Brands and content providers need to find meaningful stories that people can related to, share them in times when we are most receptive to content and in a native format to drive most engagement.
Why is engagement with content so important? Remember at school when teachers made you write a word all over again so you remembered it? They do it because writing forces you to use a different neural wiring than when you are reading, makes you engage more and therefore helps you remember it better. It’s the same with the engagement of content. The more people engage in your content, the more memorable experience they will have. Engagement is to moments what context is to content. It’s critical.
If all above is too complex for you, there is a simple kitten test Ben created to see if your content stands a chance in today’s world. Can your content compete with a kitten photo? Yes? Then you are on the right way.