Commercialise that content
In the light and bright surroundings of the RSA, London, with a wonderfully diverse audience of brands, retailers and media owners, we took the ever-prevalent topic of combining the worlds of content and commerce to the next level. In the summer of 2014 we explored human behaviour when consuming content, this year we debated the often-treacherous path of commercialising that very content.
We opened proceedings with Mike Seery, Head of Digital and CTO at Which? Mike enlightened us to the trials and tribulations that a brand will likely face when embarking on the journey of commercialising its content. We all know we can do it, but how we protect the integrity of the brand at the same time – that’s the challenge! The message was simple; earn trust before generating revenue, anything other than that will result in a likely failure in the long term. The content game is a long one – give your strategy the patience it deserves and give your audience the respect they have earned, in the end this approach will pay dividends.
Next up John Clark, SVP of Commercial publishing for SEGA Europe explained how the business has faced up to the constant evolution of the game-player, the digital gaming landscape and the commercial realities of being a digital content business today. Who knew SEGA were still in business, never mind outselling iTunes in a single location by an eye-watering amount? The key to their success centres entirely on how they view their audience - John advised us all to stop buying advertising space to drive a community, but instead build a quality product and engage your desired community in a more organic fashion – it works!
After coffee we listened as Noel Penzer, European MD for Time Out Group, quizzed the Commerce Panel on how they are generating sales as a result of their content strategies. Amongst the debates about “user-generated content” the purpose of content in the buying journey and the old chestnut of the “single customer view”, the panel agreed that content throughout the sales journey was increasingly important, and that for a brand's engagement purposes, it represents what the web is all about. In other words, too much focus on commerce can easily erode the value of a brand, especially if the content produced is too commercial.
Finally, remaining ‘mic’d up’ Noel then took to the stage solo to tell all on his time at AOL and share a little of his plans for Time Out Group. Noel focussed on the ways in which commercially-created content had really helped commerce companies in his experience, notably M&S working with AOL at his time there. His insights about revolutionary ad formats and the ways they can link to other “community” content only served to reinforce the days’ overall narrative – that quality content from any source is what really counts. He went on to explain the plans Time Out have to reinvent the business, but due to Chatham House rules we can’t share this part online – you had to be there!
All in all - a morning where the challenge of understanding where your content fits in the sales cycle and therefore where to make the very best investments was explored to the maximum of our speakers’ and audience’s ability.