ZenithOptimedia’s Matt Davies Explains VideoLab’s Consultative Approach to Content Marketing

Matt DaviesOver the last few years we’ve seen agencies creating increasingly sophisticated divisions dedicated to content marketing. ZenithOptimedia’s ‘Newcast’ is one example, and recently they launched ‘VideoLab’, a new initiative launched in conjunction with YouTube and Wildfire, Google’s social marketing product. At the heart of VideoLab is an ‘end-to-end workshop process’ that helps brands work out how online video content should deliver brand messages in a social-led environment, what type and length of video content is most relevant for a particular client category, the optimal publishing frequency for a YouTube environment and, how to maximise the visibility and share-ability of content.

In an interview with VAN, Matt Davies, Head of Social and Content at ZenithOptimedia, says that VideoLab enables brands to use video to express their ‘authentic attitude’. Authenticity is a word that is impossible to avoid in the content marketing world, and I ask if Davies if the authenticity isn’t instantly compromised by the fact that ultimately you’re trying to sell someone something? “I believe that if a brand’s authentic attitude is based around its style, its tone, and the way in which it resonates,” he says.

He continues, “Jerry Garcia once said, ‘You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.’ I think that brands can be true to themselves while also being the only ones who are doing what they do. That’s what gives them their authentic attitude. That’s why they can act and behave in a given way. And when people see that happening they’ll believe in that brand if they aren’t trying to force a sales pitch down their throat and are doing something that’s a better value exchange than what they get with another brand.”

Video Seeding Evolved

So, once a brand has their content in place – how do you go about seeding it in 2013?  “You have to understand that it’s important to have the insight and intelligence, and then combine it with a mix of social listening, SEO/analytics and Target Group Index (TGI) data,” says Davies. “By linking all of those things together, you can start to get an idea of how to approach the campaign and if it’s right and if it’s relevant, people will share it.  All of this has to be backed up by ensuring you’re using the best platforms in the best possible way and you have to consider whether you’re going to use things like blogger outreach. So, for example, you might speak to individual bloggers and get them to experience the brand by perhaps taking them to an event and getting them excited about what’s going on, as opposed to just giving them a tenner and asking them to post something. We want any bloggers we work with to feel genuinely excited about the brand so that their excitement is then spread through their communities.”

On the measurement side, there’s still no fixed model, and there’s every chance that it’ll stay that way. “It’s hard as you need to set out the KPIs up front,” says Davies. “So, does the client want sales, brand awareness, recognition or sign ups?  You have to work out what success looks like and it’s often more of a focus on the sales loop rather than the sales funnel. That way you can influence someone’s decision in such a way that they’ll trust your brand because you’ve built up that authentic brand relationship with them over time. So if they’ve engaged with a piece of entertainment or content, they mightn’t even consider another brand as they believe the brand resonates with them,” he says.

Finally, I ask Davies whether agencies will always have a role in content marketing, or do people talk about the tech companies taking the business for themselves in the same way they do in programmatic trading. “I think an agency will always need to be brought in, especially a media agency, because it’s a media agency’s responsibility to deliver that brand across the right media. So even if Google did approach a brand – and I’m not talking about any of the brands we’re working with because we have an understand with Google and Wildfire – the chances are the brand would say ‘Oh, we’d like to involve our media or strategic agency’, as clients typically want to have the back up and support we provide anyway. Clients are busy and will want to get something going and then they’ll get their agency to implement it.”

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