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September,7th 2017

Stop Interrupting and Start Being a Part of the Story

By Erick Schwab, COO and Co-Founder at SYLO

Are ads really something that people are looking for? I think that we can all agree that the answer is a resolute no.

So, why don’t marketers see that? The insistence on inherently flawed disruptive marketing is not going away. Instead, audiences are getting served tweaked video ad formats in the hopes that they’ll accept them without too much grumbling. The best example are the YouTube 6-second bumper ads – the whole industry is excited about them. They were introduced a year ago and, recently, one of major TV networks, FOX, started adopting them as well.


Well, marketing and agency executives think that these disruptive ads are less of a nuisance the shorter they last. In my opinion, they are simply an attempt to kick the can down the line so someone else has to deal with that particular marketing hot potato. Essentially, marketers are trying to signal their customers and boards of directors that they’re changing with the times while staying firmly set in their old ways.

Disruptive marketing is not working anymore so it’s high time to call a spade a spade. People simply don’t care about what you have to say about yourself in your ads. The rise of ad blocking software (600 million devices now block ads) and the fact that more than 85% of people skip TV and pre-roll ads is a clear indication of that.

How can your brand make sure that it’s respecting the viewers instead of ticking them off?

Respect the Creator and Their Audience – Add to the Story Instead of Interrupting It

Interruptions in creator content (done under the guise of influencer marketing) are as glaring as those on YouTube videos. They are painfully obvious, out of touch, and don’t make that much-needed connection with the audience.

For example, after observing several creators and analyzing their collaborations with brands, I’ve noticed that there’s a distinct dissonance between the work that they put out independently and the work that’s created for the brands. Namely, this ‘promotional content’ sticks out as exactly that – promotional.

It happens in one of two ways:

  • Brands look at creators as ad units, taking into account their reach, engagement, audience demographics, psychographics but that’s where it typically stops.. The creator’s personal brand of storytelling is ignored and what works for them isn’t even on the brand’s radar. Brand’s creative team sets to work, producing content that fails to connect with the audience. The result is usually promo content that not only doesn’t deliver, it’s also damaging to both the creator and the brand.
  • Brands make the mistake of thinking that the creators are their creative extension. They will supply them with a rough idea and a brief, expecting creators to come up with a way to integrate the brand’s messaging with what they usually do. Creators struggle to achieve this, spending days figuring out something that agency teams work months on. The result is often an underperforming one-off campaign that completely misses the mark. This happens often and the fact that a lot of influencer marketing ‘experts’ encourage brands to rely on the creator to develop the creative strategy is not helping.

Both approaches result in underwhelming results.

The right strategy lies somewhere in the middle. Brands need to learn which audiences and themes the creator resonates with across various social media platforms. Which of their stories grab people’s attention and hold it?

When you figure out what makes a creator successful and how you as a brand can facilitate that which is already working…well, you’ve found the sweet spot.

Be The Fuel That Keeps A Successful Story Going

How can brands go about doing that?

For starters, you drill into all of the data about the creator that you can get your hands on to see what makes that particular audience tick, Why are they coming back every day—particular formatting, the way the story is told, humor; the list is endless. You then enable the creator to tell those stories with more ease and without disrupting the experience. A good relationship between the brand and the creator is essential because, eventually, it will spill over to the content more easily, lending credibility to the collaboration.

Secondly, you step out of the box and stomp on it. Remember that audiences have diverse interests and by identifying the various themes where the creator’s content is successful, brands and creators can build mutually beneficial and lasting relationships.

For example, we partnered with a creator in the gaming area to help measure success with a growing brand partner. The branded gaming content was doing ok, but the results could be better. By pulling up the SYLO Score of hundreds of creator’s videos, we’ve noticed that his non-gaming content was getting some serious traction. Things like his workout routine, cooking and recipes, day-to-day rants were interesting to his audience. We spoke with both parties about focusing the collaboration on that. The content was branded but integrations were kept low-key and, ultimately, that content exceeded native pieces. Why? Because it was human, real, and fun and the creator was not trying to sell something.

The key to developing great influencer campaigns is finding what already works for the creator and blending seamlessly into that narrative. 6-second ads and intrusive, sale-sy content just don’t qualify—they are as far from storytelling as you can possibly be.

If you want to find out what does qualify, make sure to check out metrics and insights provided by SYLO. In the meantime, tell me more about your favorite influencer campaign in the comments and I’ll tell you how it could have been better executed (or the coffee’s on me the next time we meet).

Photo credit: Pixabay


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