Changes And Challenges In The New Content Production Process
By T. ALEX BLUM, FOUNDING PARTNER,
BLUM CONSULTING PARTNERS / LOS ANGELES
In many ways, today’s multi-platform world of advertising content delivery may feel like a free-for-all, but out of all the confusion, there are only two identifiable universal demands of this new norm that are driving the production issues which brands and agencies wrestle with daily. The first is the need to produce a large volume of content at scale for a wide range of media - and the second is the ability to deliver content at different levels of quality and price points for designated uses or media types.
These two categories of deliverables each present very different challenges, yet it’s tempting to imagine that one universal solution meets the demands of their execution. This is partly because “content production” is often used as an umbrella definition covering production of every kind of asset - from “how-to” videos to national television commercials. However, a broad umbrella definition presupposing that there is some sort of “one size fits all” answer to all production issues is problematic by nature.
In-house production units need to meet the challenge of producing both large quantities of low-cost, disposable content for social media and corporate messaging, as well as big-budget, broadcast commercials and media buys, which requires a deep understanding of all types of assets and how to implement production processes that meet each project’s specific requirements. One of the reasons we launched Blum Consulting Partners was specifically to work with brands and agencies that are struggling with how to define a diverse mix of deliverables and put in place efficient production processes that align with their needs.
Agencies and brands are managing the transition from an era defined by television commercials and print ads that reach the largest possible number of consumers, to producing a broad range of content for multiple platforms that consumers can access at various touch points throughout their day.
One of the ways we support companies as they execute their creative vision is to suggest methodologies for producing these different kinds of assets and wrangling a range of processes into effective day-to-day production execution.
Historically, brands didn’t have to deal with these problems. They could communicate their marketing needs to their agency of record and then leave it to them deliver the final assets. Agencies maintained a broad network of relationships with creative resources that they depended on for timely, high-quality execution of spots and ads.
However, because a brand message can now be delivered via a multitude of formats - from social, to mobile, webisodes, Facebook Live videos, and Snapchat content, to big-ticket broadcast spots with expensive media buys - the universe of resources that agencies need to access has become vastly larger and less manageable.
At the same time, advancements in digital technology - coupled with the usual dramatic reductions in the price points for production and postproduction hardware and software. The lower cost of equipment has made taking services in-house a viable and practical alternative for both brands and agencies during a time where complex, integrated, multi-platform advertising has become the norm.
When you consider the impact of these changes, it is not hard to understand why it is difficult for agencies to pivot on a dime from a broadcast/print-driven world to a production landscape where s mix of creative content with unique sets of requirements resides on numerous platforms.
One of the ways we help our clients deal with this complex landscape is by identifying “tiers of production” as a way to classify the type of execution required to satisfy the demands of each project with the most cost-effective approach to delivering the appropriate level of quality.
The first step of the process begins with identifying the tier and defining overall goals and corresponding assets to be produced. Once the creative expectations for the content are clear, then figuring out how to execute the production and choosing internal or out-of-house creative partners becomes much simpler.
In the broadest sense, tiers of content production can be organized on a scale from highly commoditized solutions driven by the cost and volume of assets required – to quality-driven, one-of-a-kind solutions, with price as a secondary consideration.
Since finding the best value for the price is always a goal, the means of execution can be anything from a classic competitive bid situation with high level production companies, to an RFP for a full year’s worth of production of responsive social videos. Essentially, the goal is to determine the best method of producing each asset, clearly understand the level of quality that it requires, and balance those considerations with cost issues and practical requirements. These considerations may include deadlines, the volume of work, and many other factors.
Obviously, the level of quality required for a Super Bowl spot versus a series of corporate training videos is not the same, so it’s essential to be clear about where on the scale - from cost to quality - the work needs to fall when it completed. (See Fig 1 below which represents one way we communicate with our clients to help prioritize their goals:)