What to consider with technology-led briefs

by: on 09 December 2014

Alex Royston, head of content strategy Newcast, ZenithOptimedia, raises questions about technology determinism

“I think we should have an app”. Not an uncommon thing we hear from every side of the marketing bubble. It goes with “I think we should do something with content” and “our social media calendar should mention every holiday, both actual and hallmark”.

In a world where we prefer watching concerts through our mobile screens and wearables are useable, it makes sense that the ask for technology-led solutions appears on the brief. We love working on these projects at Newcast. Though to make these technology led-solutions happen, it also requires us to change our approach. If you’re considering a change to your brief, have a think about the following:

Think about the user. Do you want to provide a platform where users engage with the product or brand longer? Or do you want to build a platform that provides the perception that the brand is innovative? If you achieve the first, you achieve the second. Quite often the second is achieved and not the first. There’s a reason why most apps are downloaded and used once but never again. If you build a technology platform, make it useable and useful. The starting point is understanding what additional value we can provide the user. We have developed an approach to the content audit to reveal these opportunities.

Think about how you’re promoting it. Often these platforms are developed and live in a silo. There’s a huge opportunity to extend its story into other communications channels, for example partnerships. And if you’re doing this, think about that user journey. Is the way you serve content on other platforms as innovative as the platform you’ve created? For example, have you developed an incredibly useful tool yet are talking about it through 20 x 500 word articles with a publisher partner? Too often we concede to producing these content formats which aren’t the optimal way to tell our story. It’s awesome that you have your technology platform up and running. Don’t go old school with the way you’re promoting it. Simple content example – The Guardian could have written a page on how fast the record Melbourne Cup winner Kingston Rule is. Instead they created a simple interactive tool, putting him into a great context with an engaging and useful experience for the user. He’s pretty fast.

Finally, think about the ability to make it happen. And iterate. If you have been loyal to TV for years and are moving into this territory, make sure you have a great team in place. You need to have a balance of people with the right experience, keep numbers tight to avoid excessive politics and to be agile, and make sure it’s the right level of risk. This is the beauty of user centered design – you can iterate. You can adjust and test as you go. It’s not all over once you’ve produced that 60sec TVC that you’re stuck with for a whole year.

The future is as exciting as right now. Approach with your eyes open. 

By Alex Royston, head of content strategy Newcast, ZenithOptimedia