Online advertising has been becoming more and more creative over the past decade. Thanks to technological improvements and the new ways in which we can now access this technology, content marketers have become more innovative, more inspirational and, importantly, more appealing in recent years.
The leading brands still spend almost $600 billion worldwide, according to eMarketer’s stats, and put out “traditional” content via traditional mediums such as TV (a lot of TV ads are still hugely creative). However, making something stand out online is becoming much more of a focus for the biggest companies in the world. Indeed, top brands now employ the finest digital marketing agencies and ad executives to handle their promotional content. Market research company MarketsandMarkets predicts that by 2019 the global spend for online marketing will be $220 billion.
From social media platforms spoofing the latest TV shows to poker sites using science, major brands from around the world are now promoting their products in some very interesting ways.
Hootsuite: The Popular Campaign
One tried and tested marketing method that’s worked for years is the parody or spoof. Taking the traits of a popular cultural figure or concept and using them to imbue your product with a new persona creates a sense of familiarity for the audience (even where none previously existed) and also shows that your brand isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. Moreover, according to the History of Advertising Trust – the UK archive for the advertising industry – parody has “great viral potential” which means a single ad could be shared millions of times.
Indeed, if you look back at our idea to turn the famous IKEA Instruction Man into our favorite cartoon characters (such as Hello Kitty and Bart Simpson) you’ll see why parody content is both entertaining and engaging.
Brand management platform Hootsuite was just one of many companies that decided to jump on the parody bandwagon and appeal to what’s popular. Founded in 2008, Hootsuite now has 10 million users and a market value of $1 billion. That is thanks to some inspired content.
Following the epic rise of Game of Thrones (GoT), Hootsuite decided to create its own GoT inspired video (shown above). Published on YouTube with the caption “uniting warring kingdoms is a story we know a thing or two about” (because Hootsuite allows you to combine social media platforms in a single app), the video reached almost 1 million views within two months.
Beyond these direct views, Hootsuite was able to push out GoT-related social media posts using various imagery and hashtags connected to the show. In the process, it captured the attention of the show’s millions of fans. GoT is indeed popular: the opening episode of Season 5 attracted a record-breaking 8 million viewers. On top of that, the overall viewership across the season topped the 20 million mark.
Essentially, what Hootsuite was able to do was piggyback on the success of GoT to get its name in front of millions of people with a single video ad.
PokerStars: The Educational Campaign
Another great way to give content some zing is to take something virtually everyone is familiar with and give it a new twist. The periodic table was first constructed by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869 and since then it has grown to encompass new elements as they are discovered. For schoolchildren around the world, this table is the bane of their science lessons, but for PokerStars it represented a neat way to educate people about the elements of poker.
Founded in 2001 and home to 100 million registered players, PokerStars is seen as one of the leading brands in poker. In 2016, the online gaming giant decided to educate global audiences with its Periodic Table of Poker.
Taking the overall look and structure of the classic periodic table we all remember from school, PokerStars has created a colorful representation of what it takes to be a poker player. By breaking down various aspects of the game into groups which include “player techniques”, “card dealt”, “blinds” and “decisions”, PokerStars’ Periodic Table of Poker is essentially one-part entertainment and one-part education.
2009 research found that more than 40 million globally play some form of poker and, of that figure, 15 million play online for real money. Today, that number is likely to be even higher. Lots of people enjoy watching the game or playing for fun, but not all of them have played for money. Much like chess, there are many strategic elements to poker and for players to feel comfortable enough to ante-up in major tournaments, they need to learn these skills. Comparing poker to a science lesson is a creative way to address this issue and, potentially, give more people the confidence to play.
Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward: The Retro Campaign
Image Source: primeresi.com
Sometimes it’s great to be retro. Today, everyone has the ability to create a quirky video that looks as though it was made by a professional. Thanks to the leading iOS and Android video editing apps such as InstaShot, anyone with a basic grasp of smartphone technology can create a slick looking video. Indeed, InstaShot now has more than 10 million users, according to Google Play, and each one of those user can crop frames, add borders and compress files to make instant videos that can be shared via Instagram in seconds.
Of course, the most creative ad agencies and content developers will always find ways to make videos that go way beyond the norm. For example, DMR stats shows that MTV is the most shared brand for videos on Instagram and 40% of the top 1,000 most shared videos on the platform come from major brands. However, for some companies, the way forwards is to go backwards.
London-based estate agency Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward was hit hard during the global recession in 2008 (Nationwide estimated that UK house prices dropped by an average of 16%). However, it found a way to rebound and become a leading light in its industry thanks to magazine marketing. The premise behind creating its own property magazine was simple as it was an authority on the subject.
Understating that almost anyone can now go online and create a website with videos and adverts, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward wanted to turn to the magazine genre and do something everyone had forgotten about. The end result was Completely London. This is a seasonal magazine (issue 19 was published in Autumn/Winter 2015) that showcases the best houses in London and educate readers about the housing market in general.
Oreo: The Emoji Campaign
Instant messaging now consumes the majority of our time online. According to Statista, the leading messaging apps had more than 3 billion users at the start of 2016. Indeed, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger having 900 million and 800 million users respectively, more people are now sharing content and interacting via social messaging platforms than ever before.
With this in mind, companies are now beginning to explore the possibilities of messenger content to promote their products. As stated by The Guardian’s Jerry Daykin, the end of 2016 will see the “capabilities of messaging” become “unrecognizable” and it’s this change which the famous Oreo brand (founded in 1912) has taken into consideration. On Facebook more than 38 million users “like” Oreo. In 2014, the company sold $3 billion worth of its cookies. However, in a bid to increase sales, the company is now looking at the messaging market.
Currently being trialed in Asia (shown in the video above), the company has put out cross-platform content that directly targets the messaging generation. Dubbed the Oreo Bonding Emoji campaign, the idea revolves around the idea that people are now spending less time physically interacting and so the best way for families to bond is through a messaging platform.
Working with China’s largest messaging network, WeChat (which has 650 million users), Oreo has designed its own range of emojis. The branded images and animations allow users to share stories and ideas across WeChat in an entertaining way. The emojis also help push the Oreo brand as users can unlock more content by using special codes printed on the inside of packets of Oreo biscuits.
Messaging content appears to be the next frontier for companies. Whether it’s emojis or written content, it seems as though companies will be tapping into this market as we become more connected to services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
However, even before this happens, we can see that brands are constantly dreaming up new ways to harness the technology around us. By simultaneously educating and entertaining us, as demonstrated by the case studies above, brands are able to exploit the reach of the internet and penetrate new demographics to become household names.