The Content Revolution Is Here, and It’s Time for Brands to Embrace It

Creative that lacks personality won't fair well

With so many ways to create unique content for a brand, it's no surprise that consumer expectations have risen. Getty Images
Headshot of TJ Leonard

We live in a golden age of content creation. The mass creative class is generating more quality, authentic content than we know what to do with. Now with Instagram having recently launched its own video app to compete with Snapchat and YouTube, it’s clear that social media is ground zero for consumer-created content, the content that brands and their influencers should be paying attention to.

The ad economy is finding itself in sort of a reorganization. Social, video and mobile are coming together to create more authentic content that brands are thirsting for.

Brands are always looking to maximize their reach on social channels. It is the mass creative class—everyone from our neighbors to celebrities—producing a new category of content. It occupies the space between user-generated and professionally produced, dominates our social feeds and drives unprecedented engagement, particularly on mobile devices. The result is more quality, authentic content than consumers and brands are able to digest.

Consumers have flat-out become fatigued with the standard fare historically represented in brand marketing.

Modern giants like Facebook, Adobe and Google are being forced to rethink their ad strategies in response to this content revolution, despite their stranglehold over our digital economy. But what does that mean for the larger set of individual brands and marketers that don’t have the advertising budgets of large tech giants?

Consumers have flat-out become fatigued with the standard fare historically represented in brand marketing. While the influx of influencers has offset some of this, utilizing more content from the social feeds of creators offers a stronger opportunity to connect with audiences.

If your brand has high engagement and a style that consumers are highly responsive to, you will see advertisers lining up for a piece of the action. This is a seismic shift, all being driven by this new demand for authentic video content that mimics what we see in our social feeds.

Recent trends in content creation that focus on the need for more diverse consumer-created content are going to be what your brand needs to hone in on. Not quite the UGC associated with the original social web, not quite the professional aesthetic we expect from Fortune 500 brands, but instead, consumers that want to be able to connect with video content on a more personal and intimate level.

To understand the impact of this content revolution on ad buyers, look no further than Google. In announcing its recent Ad Manager reorganization, Google declared that “people now spend more time on their phones than anywhere else and are watching more video—live or on demand—on a variety of large and small screens. This shift has created new opportunities for monetization, along with more challenges for managing ads across different screens, SDKs and content distribution platforms.” This new content category has produced a style that consumers are highly responsive to, and Google believes that brands will line up for a piece of the action.

We’re seeing a more dynamic transformation in the digital ad industry as a direct result of this new trend of how content is being created and sourced. Consumers spend more time on their phones than ever before, so you must engage them inside the apps that they are using to create content and they must be engaged in a way that resonates with them personally.

There will be no excuse for brands, marketers and influencers to rely solely on canned content with no personality. The diversity of their communities can easily be represented in brand materials when connecting with the diverse range of content creators utilizing this ever-expanding set of creation tools. The power now lies in the hands of the content creator, and that’s good news for everyone with a mobile phone and a story to tell.

TJ Leonard is the CEO of Storyblocks.