Great marketing is, and always will be, storytelling. Over the past 20 years, the web, social media, and mobile devices democratized publishing tools once monopolized by publishing houses, film studios, and ad agencies. Our tools changed, but images, video, and text remained central to marketing. Content will continue to reign supreme, but the methods, environment, and purpose of storytelling will transform yet again.
Over a short timeframe, we’ve seen an explosion of audio storytelling, like podcasts and audiobooks. We’ve witnessed the rise of raw, short-form video, which now dominates social networks and digital advertising. We’ve also seen the consumerization of virtual reality, thanks to Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and other VR headsets.
All these mediums reflect a desire for immersion – an innately human desire to be deep in the conversation, at the scene, out in the world. People feel personally connected to podcasters, social influencers, and the virtual environments they explore. They want to be (or feel like) participants, not observers. We call this “immersive marketing.”
We expect immersive marketing to rise over the next five years. It will evolve with visual media at its core. Top consumer brands already lead with a visual content strategy because it pays to engage first and explain later. Their next step is to turn visual media into immersive experiences.
Immersion goes beyond “personalization,” which, at present, is just an effort to make content more relevant. Based on the data people share, brands can ask what might their audience want to read, see, and hear?
Immersive personalization will put consumers in the creative driver’s seat. They want to choose or design the Snapchat filters. They want to speak with Alexa and Siri, not type into an impersonal keyboard. They want to be the Pokemon catcher rather than control an avatar on a tiny screen. They want to tell the story by being in it.
In short, people want a better integration between physical life and digital experience. Online marketing will go beyond the screen to serve people who wish to look, talk, listen, do, move, touch – and taste. Immersive marketing will, eventually, serve content for all five senses. This is the case in mobile-social environments and the emerging Internet of Things.
Widen’s mission is to be the content marketing hub of digital marketing – the center from which brands can deliver all content. To fulfill that mission, we must enable and power immersive marketing.
Every piece of marketing content is what we call a digital asset (also referred to as visual content). Assets require talent, time, and technology to create, and they consume those resources throughout their existence. Digital asset management (DAM) emerged because storing, organizing, and finding visual content became immensely challenging in the digital age. Brands continue to lose time, sanity, and value to disorganized, underutilized assets. We believe immersive marketing, given its massive content demands, will be prohibitively expensive, chaotic, and ineffective without a DAM system in place.Thus, Widen’s ongoing goal is to ensure the Widen Collective, our flagship DAM system, remains the best tool for managing all six phases of the content lifecycle:
- Plan — Later in 2017, we’re releasing new planning and calendaring tools that help teams plan the who, what, when, where, why, and how of content creation.
- Produce — Creative teams will need the freedom to connect DAM with all their favorite tools. Recently, we integrated the Widen Collective with Adobe Creative Cloud and Salesforce. We have integrations with enterprise systems for web content management, e-commerce, marketing automation, product information management, and more.
- Review — We’ve automated the process of proofing and approving work with our Workflow app, and we’ll continue to build out this popular tool. We’re engineering the DAM system to replace cumbersome email chains with smart, efficient processes.
- Manage — Our core DAM software gives admins the ability to establish a highly organized and scalable content library. Many professional librarians choose the Widen Collective for their Fortune 100 and 500 clients. It becomes the central source of truth for an otherwise massive, unwieldy collection of visual content.
- Publish — Through integrations and automation, we can deliver digital assets to any channel, including the web, social networks, and mobile technologies. DAM plugs into all the platforms that facilitate immersive marketing experiences.
- Analyze — Widen Insights has helped marketers measure and improve content performance across the digital world. It shows you where digital assets are published, who uses them, and how they perform. By tracking views, share, downloads, video play times, etc. at the asset level, we’ve elevated analytics beyond a single channel. We’re actively increasing the variety and depth of our analytics.
In one year, data, personalization, and customer experience will be the norm. Within five years, immersive marketing will bridge the gap between our physical and digital existence. Along the way, Widen will power the content behind our customers’ marketing experiences. We have the team, technology, and culture to help your company thrive in this future.