Australasia 2016: Alex Light at VICE Australia

- in 2016, Australasian Insights 2016, Insight Series
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Alex Light is Commercial Director at VICE Australia, and he provided the following responses for our 2016 Australasia Expert Insights Report:

Content has become today’s social currency. What we’re seeing is that for young people, the number one topic of conversation between peers is what they are watching. On-demand platforms and content creators like YouTube, Netflix and VICE are very much driving this trend, and the influence of YouTube bloggers on culture is rapidly increasing, particularly for the younger generation. What does this mean for brands? It’s a remarkable time for marketers – there’s a fantastic opportunity to create great content and become the topic of conversation. The challenge is actually creating content that people want to watch.

In what situations do you recommend using branded content?

Branded content can be used for:

  • Short-term marketing campaigns
  • Product demonstrations
  • Brands seeking to own the conversation around their consumption occasion
  • Brands looking to grow their credibility in a subject matter
  • Brands looking to elevate their brand positioning or values.

Whilst branded content can apply and be an excellent [solution] to any of the above situations, I’m of opinion that branded content is best used for longer-term and more brand-focused activities – building a platform or a brand positioning around a topic area of interest to their audience. This requires courage and commitment from both clients and content producers.

What about emerging trends and insights into the immediate future of branded content?

We’ve noticed some macro trends around content in general, which we think are important to note for the broader content marketing industry:

Content is currency amongst millennials. When asked, the number one topic of conversation amongst millennials is what they are watching. Sharing interesting, weird, or remarkable videos amongst your peer groups is cool. (VICE audience survey, 2015). Knowledge is cool again.

Sharing behaviours have changed – millennials are now sharing content among smaller groups. ‘We used to be impressed with how many people we could share our lives with, and now we’re more interested in limiting what we share with who.’ This trend towards smaller community sharing is going to have an impact on distribution: how marketers can create content that’s for specific communities, and more so than ever before, content that’s worthy of being shared.

Millennials are the most marketing-savvy generation that’s ever existed. More and more, we’re seeing that content that’s raw, unfiltered, authentic and genuine is having cut-through. Branded content that pretends to be entertainment – when it’s just an ad with lipstick on – is resonating less and less. Celebrity endorsements are uncool. (61% of VICE’s audience say that traditional celebrity endorsements negatively impact their purchase intent.) Marketers and branded content creators need to strive for genuine and authentic stories.

Video is the strongest means to make lasting connections. According to YouTube, 18- to 34-year-olds are more than twice as likely to rely on video to decide which company to purchase from.

There are some really interesting technologies influencing content as well. VR and 360-degree video is one area with massive potential. This medium will be an interesting one to see brands explore, with early frontrunners in Australia the tech brands (Samsung’s 360-degree concert live streams from Sydney Opera House), or travel brands (Qantas and Contiki each providing an immersive experience into their ‘product’ – the destination).

About the author

Justin Kirby is a consultant, educator and thought leader with a 20+ year career in industry as a digital strategist, producer and entrepreneur. He chairs and speaks at conferences around the globe, judge industry awards, and advise brands and agencies.