Does your child spend the better part of their free time on YouTube? Have you ever seen someone spending more time watching streamers on Twitch than shows on Netflix? Do you have a TikTok account?
If your question to any of these questions is yes, then you’re already aware of the macro-to-micro revolution in digital content. People are tuning in to individual creators and channels at a far greater pace than any company, brand, or group.
This doesn’t mean that luxury brands and established household names are necessarily losing power – but it does mean that media and content consumption is shifting towards a personalized experience.
Purchasing decisions, interests, and to a degree even political ideas are being molded by a growing class of talented content producers. And try as they might, a lot of brands that have tried to pick up on the trend haven’t reached the same level of authenticity or one-on-one engagement that individual content creators have.
The ability to make viewers feel almost like friends – to the point that some people have begun voicing concerns over a growing parasocial phenomenon – reveals an incredible potential for a brand-new type of content engagement for digital marketers and online brands. The personalized kind.
Explaining Personalized Content
Does this mean your brand needs an influencer? Well, no. Influencers and content creators have their own important place in any niche or industry, be it gaming, tech, fitness, engineering, beauty, lifestyle, cooking, and so on.
Part of their authenticity is that their relationships with brands is always one at arm’s length. Viewers understand that their favorite content producers need sponsorships and partnerships to continue to finance their passions, but that at the end of the day, they can still trust them to speak their mind.
But in the growth of the influencer, we see something completely new unfold – the potential for one-on-one conversations between brands and consumers.
Personalized content leverages growing advances in video editing and video production to help brands develop templates for their video marketing campaigns that utilize costumer data to create a unique video pitch.
What does that mean?
It means that your bank might give you an end-of-the-year thank you video, detailing in summary what you bought that year, the financial decisions you made, how your business has helped the company reach new milestones, and how you can continue to help them via personalized credit based on their purchasing and banking history.
It means that a school campus can give a mock tour of its facilities, including a quick peek at what a student’s dorm might look like with their name on it. It means content that changes based on who is watching – like an ad for a tourist agency promoting a hotel, but omitting the hotel and focusing on other amenities if the customer has already got a reservation.
We already have real life examples of this from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, University of Waterloo, and Facebook – you might have already seen some kind of Facebook retrospective in the past, where Facebook takes your new and old friends, your posts and pictures, and helps you celebrate your year, or a special milestone.
How Does Personalized Content Work?
The future for this kind of content is looking very bright. We can already mix and match different scripts based on whether certain customer information is missing or available. We can use or omit certain images and visual keynotes, or use images provided by the customer – ala Facebook – to create a personalized video experience.
But so far, a lot of these techniques – the kind that sift through massive amounts of customer data – rely on two things:
- Very, very sophisticated machine learning.
- A mountain of customer data that has been willingly supplied to you.
Most companies have neither. However, that might not be the case in a few years. Even so, you don’t need a lot of data to create a personalized video.
Taking note of a few key customer choices during the registration and purchasing experience, for example, allows you to change your pitch to adjust to how a customer behaves, and what they did and didn’t do – based on what they have or haven’t bought, or what they did and didn’t favorite.
If you’re running an online storefront, for example, you will be able to create unique, personalized video ads for customers based on what they bought, and what other users with similar shopping patterns also looked at.
We already have something like this in most e-commerce platforms – it’s just a matter of taking the existing data and putting into an attractive and personalized video format.
Of course, clean and accurate data is incredibly important for this kind of near-future and present marketing. If your business is already in the excellent position to store and analyze user data – especially if you have a storefront, allow users to register, send out newsletters, pose questions through surveys, and analyze their purchasing decisions and user activity on your site – then you will have what it takes to start taking advantage of personalized content soon.
How soon? The tools to do it already exist. However, a lot of the most sophisticated stuff is coming out of proprietary systems developed by marketing teams for larger companies trying to explore the potential for this kind of new content (its potential is great, if you’re curious).
Creating and Using Personalized Content
We’ve already discussed YouTube’s (and Google’s) expanded video building tools in the past, and other tools like Vidyard further specialize in personalized video content. While rudimentary, the tools for this kind of content will continue to develop and mature rapidly in the coming years – until you can start to connect to these services and feed them your data via API, and automatically begin importing and incorporating user data into your video marketing material.
While it’s still ostensibly the future of video marketing, there is a lot you can do to gear up for the next step in digital advertising. It all starts with sensibly gathering user data, incorporating personalization tools into every step of the sales process, and making the most of good data.