In the Age of the Liquid Web, Content is King

Media consuming habits are evolving in a crucial way, inspired by the devices we use to access the web. We’ve become a society where instant access to global information is always available whenever­—and wherever—we want it.

We are constantly consuming information, thanks to the portability of web access. Approximately 90 percent of Americans have smartphones and more than 40 percent have tablet PCs. Further, 70 percent of digital users now access the Internet across both mobile devices and personal computers due to consumers’ increased desire or need to move across a number of devices to stay connected and consume content during most waking hours.

Gone are the days of one consumer, one website visit. Consumers across nearly all demographics are at ease with multiple devices. President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Randall Rothenberg, referred to this behavior of switching seamlessly between Internet connected devices in a recent AdWeek article as “liquid.”

A single “liquid” consumer may access a brand’s content on a PC, mobile device and tablet on any single day, creating challenges for marketers to follow their intended audiences.

\A marketing plan needs to be fluid across all platforms for continuity of experience for whatever platform the consumer finds most convenient, which creates a challenge for designers and copywriters. Web design must function well on a variety of devices and browsers, and copy must be crafted in a way that it can be visually appealing not only on a large desktop computer screen, but also on smartphone.

But that’s not the only challenge for marketers. The second challenge is where consumers choose to access the content.

[Hint: It’s probably not on your website.]

Consumers are increasingly interested in accessing content directly through tools such as Facebook, Flipbook, Storify and Pinterest. The challenge there is not just making your content look appealing and function well on those platforms, but also: How do we track conversions?

For as long as we have had tools to web analytics, we have been working on perfecting the collection and analysis of the data we have available to us. Much as the philosophical question about a tree falling in the forest, we have asked ourselves: If a marketing message reaches a consumer, but we didn’t measure it, did the consumer really see it?

The answer has been no, because if we can’t track the data, how will we determine conversion rates? And if we can’t track conversion, how do we know if we’re effective? This is especially angst inducing when we remember it takes about seven “touches” in order to convert a consumer. Seeing a brand in one location once, just won’t do.

So now that consumers are growing less interested in being directed to our website, we must step back from that data-obsessed thinking and get back to basics: Content is king, and brand awareness is valuable.

It requires a leap of faith to return to the principles we held dear before we were able to track every contact with each online consumer. The strategy is now content first —creating more of it, not worrying about if it is “housed” on a specific website. It’s about meeting the consumer, wherever, whenever and however they want to consume your messaging. While in the past, the desired conversion was to drive a consumer to your Website, the new goal is to get content in front of viewers, who are likely to engage, share and respond to it, even if it means you lose some of the control over how the content is shared.

For example, sharing of content across apps, a news article or educational piece on a media outlet’s website can quickly become wrapped in Facebook or twitter branding and loose the original creator’s identify.

Facebook recently unveiled Facebook Instant Articles, encouraging brands to crafted their own content and allow Facebook to format it for the proper appearance within the walls of Facebook-whether accessed via on a desktop or mobile device.

The recently launched Apple News Format lets you create stunning content. You can author once and News will optimize your content for all iOS devices, so your readers will have a great experience no matter which device they use.

To set our data-driven minds at ease, Facebook Instant Articles delivers superb backend analytics, and Apple News offer rich suites of tools to measure user engagement. Likewise, Storify makes it easy to track mentions, and Pinterest also offers analytics tools to help measure engagement.

The bottom line is simple: The onus is on marketers to put valuable content in front of consumers, no matter how or where they want to find it.


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