How the Pandemic Accelerated the Content Gap

By Celtra

Illustration: Yann Bastard

It’s been quite the year. From sourdough starters to at-home haircuts, the pandemic has had a major impact on our routines. What we originally thought was a two-week break from our desks quickly turned into the at-home normal that we know today. 

One of the biggest impacts that the pandemic has had on our daily lives is how we shop. The widespread push to stay at home drove many of us to rely heavily on the safety and convenience of online shopping. With the massive acceleration of e-commerce and the rapid growth of digitalization, it made brands rethink their marketing. Now brands not only have to stand out amongst the rest, but they need to keep DTC (direct-to-consumer) strategies in mind.   

With the pandemic continuing to impact our everyday routines, brands still need to adapt their marketing efforts to meet the new challenges that go along with increasing digitalization. The main challenge being the Content Gap: the delta between the rising content needs marketers face and the flat or declining production resources and budgets they currently have.  

Let’s take a closer look at how exactly the pandemic accelerated the Content Gap and what you can do to get ahead of it.      

Surges in screen time 

More time at home means more screen time. Digital media consumption grew by 15% last year, the biggest increase since 2012. After exhausting every new baking trend, most of us turned to our phones as our primary source of entertainment. It’s not surprising that we did. We ran to new digital platforms to satisfy our needs for creativity and connection, like TikTok, which became the most-downloaded app of 2020. With in-store shopping experiences disrupted by pandemic protocols, brands needed to find new ways to engage with their customers and take advantage of these additional digital touchpoints. This meant that brands had to create more content than ever to connect with their audiences. On the flip side, the steady increase in content needs became a growing challenge for marketers to keep up with.

Brands tighten their belts 

When more is more, how do you make do with less? The initial shock of the pandemic drove many brands to make steep cuts across departments and spending. We saw over 67% of marketers pivot their strategies to accommodate these shifts. With lean teams and modest budgets, brand marketers are challenged to do more with less. 

Consumers hungry for entertainment

Although much has changed in the last year, there’s one thing that has stayed the same: We’re bored. With limited in-person events and drastic changes in how we interact, many of us are feeling the weight of our monotonous routines. That’s why consumers are eager to be entertained by brands. A recent Celtra study found that an entertaining story or messaging is the first thing that catches a shopper’s eye in brand creative. This need to consume more content online further drives the pressure for brands to produce higher volumes of quality content.         

To beat the boredom, brands began testing new digital tactics to reach their audiences, like expanding into branded entertainment. During a Brand-Side podcast interview with Abby McBeth from Pandora, she explained how they started creating branded entertainment around music as a new consumer touchpoint. With so many new channels for marketers to tap into, they need to constantly innovate their strategies to excite their shoppers and stay ahead of the game.

Bridging the gap   

As shoppers spend more time on their phones and have higher expectations from brands online, teams must find new ways to produce exciting content at scale. However, the pandemic-induced budget cuts and reduced team sizes make it difficult to keep up, which only widens the Content Gap. When we think about the long-term effects of the pandemic, the mass normalization of remote work means that marketing organizations will need to find new ways to collaborate with team members, while also rethinking traditional production methods.  Manual production is simply too slow to keep up with today’s content demands. When designers spend the majority of their time versioning and revising creative, they miss out on creative ideation. This traditional method of production also makes quick campaign pivots a major headache for creative teams. Ultimately, this siloed production workflow makes it challenging for brands to produce the creative variety they need at scale.     

So what can they do to future-proof their marketing strategies? Brands can start by adding automation. Incorporating automation software into marketing workflows helps free up time for designers, increases team output and speed-to-market, and maximizes the capacity to bridge the Content Gap. 

Here’s a list of other great reads on overcoming the Content Gap:

As our new normal continues to evolve, your production should too. Celtra’s Creative Automation software gives teams the speed and flexibility they need to launch a variety of relevant content at scale. If you’d like to learn more, check out this video or send us a note

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