Meerkat, BuzzFeed, and the Apple Watch Come to Content Marketing

There’s plenty of talk about how content is created – custom content studios have become the darlings of media companies and brands everywhere – but less about the kind of content being produced by brands. Though native ads and video remain popular formats, we’re seeing the emergence of some additional content trends that are likely to wheedle their way into many a media plan in the months to come.

Branded Live-Streams

Between the chatter about Meerkat at SXSW and the recent launch of Twitter’s Periscope, live video streaming is up and running. Already brands like the Miami Dolphins, Starbucks, and JC Penney are giving Meerkat a whirl, and this week Smart USA – the maker of the diminutive Smart car – joined them. To debut the 2016 Smart ForTwo, the automaker activated a Meerkat campaign at the New York Auto Show and became the first known automotive brand to use the app.

Smart offered Meerkat two streams from the “360 degrees of smart” event, one of them an always-on view and the other featuring live moments behind-the-scenes at the affair, which included insight from Smart’s chief executive and a demonstration by street artist Lee Quiñones. Consumers were able to watch the video streams through Smart’s Twitter feed as well as on the Meerkat app by following smartcarUSA.

“Streaming is content marketing to us,” Eric Angeloro, Smart’s supervisor of brand management, says. “It’s exciting to be able to leverage this emerging technology for our brand by providing online access to our premiere event.” For Smart, Meerkat is a way to generate excitement about its new model, connect with owners and fans, and introduce the brand to the tech-savvy consumers that Angeloro says the car will “truly resonate with. “This technology has already changed how we think about video distribution and consumption,” he adds.

BuzzFeed-Inspired Content

Nearly a decade ago, BuzzFeed was formed to analyze and create viral content. Its unique tone and approach to structuring stories for maximum appeal and online distribution has influenced content developers everywhere.

This month, the House Judiciary Committee posted a “BuzzFeed-ified” listicle to its site. While it may seem like an odd tactic for a legislative body to employ, the post is meant to promote Republican-supported immigration bills among younger voters.

Another example comes from T-Mobile and its recent “Too Many Quizzes” campaign. The effort was created by digital performance agency iProspect in the style of a BuzzFeed quiz, a format that BuzzFeed‘s managing editorial director has credited with generating “one of our most viral posts of all time.” According to iProspect, the content was “reverse engineered to appeal to an audience of young, slightly snarky, pop culture-savvy mobile users.” It ran on T-Mobile’s site and was distributed through social media and paid search.


“Too Many Quizzes” drove more than 95,000 visits, resulted in 40,000 completed quizzes, and generated buzz among such social influencers as Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Says Tanya Goodman, vice president and group account director at iProspect, “The big win was in producing seemingly non-commercial content and giving audiences an opportunity to share something that wasn’t an ad. All of that resulted in an engagement-driven performance marketing campaign.”


Utility Content for Wearable Tech

Utility content is hardly new, but anticipation of growth in the wearable technology market – fueled in part by the upcoming release of the Apple Watch – has led travel and hospitality brands to approach the strategy in a new way. American Airlines, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, OpenTable, and Expedia have all begun exploring smartwatch apps.

Among the companies finding ways to deliver value to wearable users in the context of their brands is The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), which recently announced it’s making its translator app available for the Apple Watch. The IHG Translator app can translate English words and phrases spoken directly into the wearable device into 13 different languages in real-time.


“Branded Utility is all about creating relationships; to do this you need to be able to communicate and engage your audience in a language that they both understand and relate to,” says Kirsty Waller, vice president of marketing – language solutions at customer experience company SDL, of the app. “In the case of the IHG Translator for the Apple Watch, they are not only using translation technology to break down the barrier between themselves and their customers, but delivering language translation as a service.”

Content marketing as a digital advertising strategy is currently undergoing a major transformation. Count on these formats to be there every step of the way.

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