This is the second post in a three-part series from our Unhooked event in New York.
During our discussion, we talked a lot about “Found Content.” But what does this new buzzword really mean? How has it affected the way creative and production teams work? How does it affect Business Managers who have to figure out how to license this type of content? And why are brands so obsessed with using authentic content? Let’s discuss.
Defining What We Mean By Found Content
Frankly, our discussion led us to realize that defining Found Content is more difficult than expected, as it means something different to producers, creatives, business and legal, marketers and, of course, the end consumer. We felt our CEO, Analisa Goodin, summed it up best: “We see Found Content as a medium, which expands a broad spectrum of creative needs, from very high production value to viral videos to candid moments randomly captured by someone on their iPhone.” She emphasized that while many associate Found Content with everyday user-generated content (UGC), it really has more breadth and depth than that.
This, however, is also why “found” may not be the best, all-encompassing name for this type of content. One of our Unhooked attendees, a creative at R/GA, brought this point up: he felt it was difficult to call it “UGC” or “found” because it almost devalued the importance of this content, which truly stands on its own. Perhaps "Sourced" better describes this type of content that is found on the internet, but also has an identifiable, safe path to clearance, and can ultimately be licensed. Let's use that term moving forward.
How Has Sourced Content Impacted Advertising Production Workflows?
To start, Sourced Content is fundamentally changing the way creatives, producers and business managers alike, approach projects. Like many directors, SpecialGuest’s Aaron Duffy’s initial gut reaction is to shoot the entire spot himself. However, he’s come to realize that “there are actually tons of people who are making amazing stuff all the time, and maybe someone is making it better than I can direct it.”
Duffy also noted that leveraging existing content enables agencies to always be in “prototyping” mode: “We constantly find ourselves in prototyping mode. Sometimes we’re working with Catch&Release not just to find the final content to get on the screen, but also to try to imagine what the thing is that we’re trying to make. These days, the process is more like, ‘I want to see a script, I want to see a rough version of it, I want to see five versions of it and then I want to approve one of those.’ But the traditional process – define the strategy, write the script, approve the script, go into development, shoot it, then take it to post – isn’t something we’ve done in a really long time, to be honest.”
Constantly iterating and revising ideas as they go, rather than being tied down to one script or to the same concepts they’ve done before, gives your creatives more freedom and flexibility. And to top things off, Sourced Content is ideal for this prototype approach because it’s relatively inexpensive to find and test.
How Can Sourced Content Foster Trust Between A Brand And Its Consumer?
Facebook’s Here Together and Dignity Health’s Hello Humankindness (which were screened at the event), are paradigm examples of Sourced Content. Both spots had different objectives but they were equally successful in getting their desired messages across: Facebook wanted to reassure users that privacy is a renewed priority, while Dignity Health aimed to showcase their compassionate approach to care. Duffy, who directed the Facebook spot, felt that the most powerful scenes weren’t the ones he shot with actors, but rather the ones featuring actual people. Those were the most compelling and effective at communicating an authentic message that the majority of viewers (read: Facebook users) could relate to.
Ambroise shared this opinion. She expressed that while leveraging real content and real people may bring unique challenges, it allows brands to cultivate a deeper level of trust with its customers: “[Found Content] is easily attainable and helps us tell a story in a much more personable way that’s relatable to the consumer.” Ultimately, the most important thing agencies and brands need to remember is to take the time to truly understand their customers and what stories and messages will resonate with them. Once companies do this, stated Goodin, “their content strategy becomes more interesting, and puts a little less pressure on the content to carry an authentic message.”
Speaking of authenticity – or perhaps, lack thereof – we can't ignore the phenomenon of the influencer. In the final part of this series we’ll cover how influencers have become significant players in advertising and how they enable brands to better connect with their audiences. We’ll also cover the occasional pitfalls to consider when working with and licensing content from influencers.
Want to learn more about trends around Sourced Content? Download our full report.