Taking Risks and Going Big: Leveraging Content Across Digital

Summit LogoWhile the Wednesday morning keynote at the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit focused on a mega-demo of the new Adobe Marketing Cloud, the Thursday session took a big picture view, with NASCAR, adventure seeker Felix Baumgartner, NBC Sports, and Khan Academy sharing stories of challenges overcome and lessons learned.

Taking Risks

Baumgartner, who jumped from the edge of space earlier this year, spoke of taking big risks and even made some connections with his work to marketing.

“You’re only as good as your team,” Baumgartner said. “To do something like this, such a complex process, it takes a lot of preparation. We always knew it was going to be big, but we didn’t realize it was going to be that big.”

John Mellor, VP of business development and strategy at Adobe, joked as Baumgartner left the stage, “Thanks for being here and for putting our ‘big, scary decisions’ in perspective.”

One big, scary decision for NASCAR was how to revamp its digital properties with partner SapientNitro.

“Our races provide a deep experience, but we wanted to provide this personal interaction,” said Marc Jenkins, VP of digital media for NASCAR. “How could we do that? The opportunity was in digital, where we can reach each fan individually while we serve the whole group.”

Alan Wexler, executive VP-managing director of North America and Europe for SapientNitro, agreed: “Consumers are becoming much more digitally centered and we need to communicate with them in an immersive way that delights them.”

NBC Accepts the Digital Challenge

Julie DeTraglia, NBC Sports’ senior VP of digital and broadcast marketing research, spoke of how the network uses digital to engage on a deeper level with viewers of the Olympics every two years.

“We had 835 televised hours and 3,500 hours of live digital video,” she said of the 2012 London Olympics. “The prevailing wisdom was to protect the primetime broadcast. This was the first time we put marquee events in front of the consumer while it was happening live in London. As media companies, we have to be everywhere every time.”

DeTraglia also had an important message about understanding your audience and what they want. The most-watched online video from the 2012 London Olympics, she said, wasn’t Gabby Douglas or Lochte vs. Phelps. In fact, it didn’t even air on TV. But when German diver Stephan Feck landed on his back during a dive, viewers watched. And re-watched. And sent to their friends.

And Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, told the story of quitting his job as a hedge fund analyst to start a nonprofit organization that provides free online educational videos and resources for students, teachers, and lifelong learners around the world. Adobe announced a $50,000 donation to the organization after the presentation.

Great Content Leading Social Media Advertising

While the general session on Thursday was more high-level, many marketers took away inspiration and motivation to take big risks and tackle major challenges—and overcome failures. They also learned more about how great content can help improve their digital outreach.

And in a panel about social media later that afternoon, marketers spoke with Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff, a product marketer for Adobe Social, about how content and creative come together in social media.

Panelists Kaykas-Wolff,  Brown, Angles, Hambly, Parker
Panelists Kaykas-Wolff, Brown, Angles, Hambly, Parker

There is a shift happening, where social media advertising is becoming more about telling stories and great content, explained Lee Brown, global head of sales for Tumblr. “People have been building banners and targeting for the past 10 years, but now they’re telling stories and bringing people into the conversation.”

Will Hambly, online marketing manager for LinkedIn, highlighted how long-form, authentic content performs well on LinkedIn, where users are focused on business and careers. “That content is being produced by companies, but not as an ad, as a white paper or something,” he said. “You can repackage that in a way that is useful to share on LinkedIn and bring that content [to ads]. It’s deep content that earns a lot of respect.”

Steve Parker, Jr., co-founder and managing partner of analytics company Levelwing, agreed: “In social advertising particularly, we look at creative not only as the images, but also the text and copy you’re writing. Being consistent in developing good content is core to success.”

“What you do with editorial and what you turn into sponsored content, it is all coming together,” said Brooke Angles, founder and principal of social media advertising firm Admosis Media. “In a perfect world, the ads seem like the content.”

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