Andrew Hall, VP of business development at Taylor James, on the production values and solutions that are helping brands answer content needs smoothly and efficiently
From pressing skip and changing channels, to simply scrolling past, the audiences of today are well versed in avoiding ads. Marketed to on almost every platform they interact with, audiences have not only become numb to the ploys of advertisers, they’ve become wiser than ever - they know when they're being sold to, and that can quickly turn them off or even worse leave them with a negative impression of the brand.
In order to keep audiences interested, production partners should constantly be pushing boundaries and keeping their fingers on the pulse. Right now, we’re seeing advances in real-time and virtual production play out. How can we use this tech to create personalised content for brands? Content with a high engagement level that lets the consumer decide how they want to view or experience a product. This level of personalisation is an extremely exciting element of marketing that, if used in a smart way, could help consumers engage with advertising.
Everybody loves receiving something that feels like it's been custom made for them. It's the mastery of a salesperson to be able to make someone feel that a product is uniquely for them when really, they’re selling the same thing to every other customer in the store. We’ve all experienced those strange and sometimes unsettling moments when an ad pops up on social media for something that you were talking about just the day before. But when done right, with a smart balance between data and AI, I believe marketers could achieve sophisticated personalisation that’s highly effective.
Thinking back to when I was a kid, I actually used to look forward to watching the ads on TV. Of course, I’d have to watch them anyway as there was no option to fast forward. But now, not only can we press the skip button with ease, we can turn our attention to other screens while the adverts play out in front of us. How many of us actually watch a YouTube advert in full or sit patiently when the ad break is on the TV?
With so much choice of content on a myriad of platforms, audiences have diverged and become more selective. Marketers not only have the challenge of standing out in a content heavy world but are also having to produce more content for multiple channels and use different tactics across each one to reach the varying segments of their target audience. Yet, marketing budgets haven’t grown to reflect this.
To overcome these hurdles, thinking smart and crafting smarter is absolutely essential. Brands need engaging storytelling to encourage audiences to listen, and they need creative solutions to produce high levels of content without draining budgets or time.
A marketer’s strength is in knowing their product better than anyone else. They know the key features, unique selling points and benefits. But to help an audience connect to it and truly want the product - especially in a competitive and saturated market - you must do more than simply list these out. You need a well thought out, engaging story that helps consumers visualise how your product fits into their lifestyle. And for that, a deep understanding of who your audience is also needed.
This is where conversations with production partners early in the process are key. It is our responsibility to guide brands down the best path to reach their goal. That’s why it is important for us to understand the nuances of different channels; to understand a brand’s overall end goal; and to question how a campaign brief fits into the wider business needs. Those with a holistic approach such as this, can offer the best solutions that not only hit marketing KPIs, but save time and money in the process
Where once marketing budgets were siloed into different pockets - TV, digital, print, and so on - now, with so many channels to cover, there is increasing need for a more integrated approach and expert production knowledge. For this to work, everyone needs to be a part of the conversation. And it is not only agencies that need to come with this integrated mindset, but production partners too. The best campaigns are usually highly collaborative between production studio, agency, and marketer.
To illustrate just how important this is, imagine I’m building you a figurine. So, I hand carve this from a block of wood with lots of exquisite details. Then once I've carved it, you now tell me that you want it to be able to move. But I can’t do that due to the way I built the figurine as a solid object. If you had told me - or I had found out from you up front - that this might be needed, then I would have crafted the figurine from individual pieces and with joints giving me the flexibility to animate it later down the line.
It’s the same when building creative ideas and developing production approaches. Too often we’re seeing avoidable inefficiencies across media plans where production is an afterthought. Our most effective work comes from relationships where we are joining the conversation at the earliest possible opportunity to ideate alongside the internal or external agency.
The volume and complexity of assets needed for high quality integrated marketing means that production can’t be an afterthought. Understanding the whole vision means that campaigns can be created in an efficient way that best suits the immediate need as well as offering the flexibility to adapt as those needs evolve in the future. And the earlier your production partners know about this, the better. Early and careful planning are critical to creative effectiveness and budget efficiency.
It’s not about shoehorning a brief into existing production capabilities and offerings, but about the story the brand is trying to tell and what the client is ultimately trying to achieve. So, it’s important for us to nurture multi-skilled talent that can turn their hand from live action to CG to animation to post and more. This is because in today’s production environment, we need to be able to deliver across multiple disciplines. A collaborative approach between the different departments and divisions of the studio, means everyone gains insight into how each other works, which in turn helps bring bigger and better ideas to the table.
For example, at Taylor James we’ve recently been building assets in a flexible way that allows for adaptation and personalisation based on user data. We have built a suite of assets for one of our clients where the campaign imagery, skin tones of the hand model, and copy can be adapted according to where the user is located. This level of personalisation creates an advert that resonates more with the target audience.
It all comes back down to thinking smart and crafting smarter. Forget old, linear rules and think holistically. Production partners should be involved early on and have an open conversation about ideation, strategy and research. Because for today’s content demands, we must look at the process with fresh eyes. Those who have already started working this way are reaping the benefits. Join us.
Andrew Hall is VP of Business Development at creative production studio, Taylor James. For more information please visit: https://www.taylorjames.com/