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The pursuit of irrelevance in the age of abundance and algorithms

Today, every brand wants to be a publisher. They want to be the Buzzfeed of their category. They want to generate more content, faster and cheaper, to gain attention with their audience. The problem is that people don't want more content. They want more of the things that they love (e.g., Games of Thrones, Homeland, and John Oliver), which is harder and more expensive to produce. And most brands are not making enough of that. To compete in the age of abundance and algorithms, we need to shift from churning content to creativity in real-time.
Content marketing is becoming a rat race for the largest part. Whoever produces more content faster and cheaper is more likely to win the race. The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you still a rat.
Today, content is an abundant resource. Everyone is doing it; 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. Unless you are creating something unique and/or contextually relevant, you are just adding to the sea of content. According to The Content Marketing Institute, only 9% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing efforts to be "very effective."
More content does not necessarily equal more visibility. Facebook’s new algorithm rewards quality and relevant content. To further fill users’ News Feeds with articles that are of interest and relevance to them, Facebook created a new ranking algorithm that will usher in a greater amount of relevant content by tracking the time they spend reading the articles in their feeds.
Today, the moment is the message. People live with their mobile devices. They want information that's relevant to the micro-moment. As a result, context makes the content relevant. Having information about the best burger in your block is different from getting the same info when you are about to go for lunch. One is meaningless; the other is useful. None of them break through, though.
Still, even if we make the content relevant, we are still competing with publishers and other brands doing programmatic marketing. Publishers have more authority than brands, which made them rank higher on searches. Programmatic marketing allows other brands to target people at the right moment.
This approach might get us a better response rate than traditional advertising, but we are only getting a marginal increase in performance. If we want to transform the brand, we need to add originality to the mix.
The internet is about choice and immersion. When I am watching something that I love, such as an NFL game, I want to search information about the match while I am at it. I want to get a different perspective, know the players better, and check other people's comments. Content creates value; context makes it relevant; originality makes it exciting and groundbreaking.
We can use the case of the GIFERATOR to bring the point home.
Fewer people were playing the Madden NFL video game than they once did despite the fact that NFL ratings were higher than ever. Madden needed to regain its cultural relevance and connect with a new generation of football fans.
The marketing team created the Madden GIFERATOR, a real-time NFL GIF engine that generates a live stream of animated GIFs triggered by the action on TV. GIFERATOR became part of mass culture with massive adoption by fans, brands, NFL teams, and players. More than 160 media outlets piled in, quickly making it one of the year's top meme sources.
In summary, the days of being shy with content are gone. We need creativity more than ever to break through in the sea of content, but we need it made in real-time to make it relevant. Until now, we had kept these two worlds apart: the creative world and the data and tech world. Hence, our brands lived on either of these planets. Now, it is time to combine them if we want to survive in the age of abundance and algorithms.


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