Interview: How A Storytelling Platform Helps Brands Create Compelling Content For Modern Consumers

Interview: How A Storytelling Platform Helps Brands Create Compelling Content For Modern Consumers
Retail

In an interview, PSFK speaks with Matt Trotta GM of North America of Playbuzz, an interactive storytelling platform, on consumers' content consumption patterns and how brands can attract an engaged audience

Elisa Lewittes
  • 14 august 2018

As consumers increasingly find ways to avoid paid advertising content, brands need to look for more engaging ways to authentically connect with consumers. To survive the post-advertorial, attention economy, brands need to create compelling stories to attract loyal audiences and interactive community members. Funded by Disney, Playbuzz resolves to grow its platform by fulfilling this currently unsatisfied consumer need. The organization positions itself as an interactive storytelling platform, which creates editorial and commercial content for a plethora of brands and publishers.

Today, Playbuzz announced that Matt Trotta, now-former SVP of Agency Strategy at Buzzfeed, will join the company as its GM of North America. Read on for an exclusive interview with the recently-appointed executive to learn more about his insights on the branded content marketplace, audience content consumption behaviors and how Playbuzz will transform the way online audience members interact with branded content.

PSFK: What platforms do you believe most facilitate deep levels of user engagement and why?

Matt Trotta: For me, it’s Instagram. Instagram is where I post my own photos and it’s where I find myself engaging with my friends and family the most.

The platform fosters a sense of community through its rate of constant engagement. Engagement that doesn’t feel forced. For brands, I believe it’s the same. What’s interesting, and really appealing to me, is that Instagram’s ad capabilities are directly in line with the core of Playbuzz’s branded content solutions: interactive storytelling that provides positive digital advertising experiences readers appreciate, rather than shy away from.

Can you elaborate more on the unique attributes of Playbuzz’s new interactive branded content strategy? How will this strategy enable publishers to generate more revenue while simultaneously driving engagement?

Playbuzz launched in 2012, working closely with top publishers to launch tools that enable them to create interactive editorial content that readers actually want to consume. This put a company in a unique position to understand their pain points and create technology to solve them.

Those key learnings were injected into Playbuzz’s commercial offering, for which we partner with brands and agencies to create long-form and mini interactive branded experiences. We then distribute these at scale to our network of premium publishers already utilizing our editorial tools.

Publishers have been incredibly responsive to our branded content solutions, as they are contextualized and personalized for their outlet’s unique audiences. Our offerings are not about monetizing for the sake of monetizing, but instead creating positive digital advertising experiences that elevate an audience member’s user experience. Why only make ads when you can tell great stories?

How is Playbuzz’s engagement strategy, and platform, unique within its market niche?

I see Playbuzz’s unique attributes as really resting in its distribution network, the flexibility of its data-driven storytelling tools and the company’s measurement model.

The storytelling tools are topic and tone agnostic, meaning they can be utilized to craft a campaign with any purpose in mind, whether it’s to increase awareness, convert consumers, or shift perceptions.

Playbuzz’s distribution network is comprised of thousands of publishers which enable us to partner with brands to create and distribute campaigns that reach several types of audiences. This limitless flexibility and the ability to cut out the middleman is a key factor that sets us apart from other branded content solutions.

Lastly, the interactivity of Playbuzz’s branded content solutions – built on a Cost Per Engagement (CPE) model – arms our partners with behavioral insights gathered from understanding how consumers interact with content and through asking poll or quiz questions. This granular data can aid in their retargeting efforts and this model means that you pay for engagements rather than just views.

Why do you believe that Playbuzz is the next big thing for brands and publishers?

In a time where publishers are looking to diversify revenue, and brands encompass an unmet appetite to tell a story at scale, Playbuzz’s interactive storytelling experiences check both boxes. The company’s immersive storytelling tools are crucial in an unforgiving attention economy as they enable brands and publishers to create much deeper dialogues with audiences.

Many assume interactive content lacks integrity, but in reality, the Playbuzz platform has been relied on by government clients, including the UK’s Department of Education and Metropolitan Police, to communicate educational information, as well as hard news publishers, like HuffPost and TIME, to cover politics and hard news.

The results speak for themselves. Not only does neuromarketing science point to the power of interactive storytelling but a recent Nielsen study we commissioned also found that Playbuzz-powered interactive branded content attracted an average brand lift of 91%, performing in the top 10% of all Digital Brand Effect campaigns globally.

How do you believe that emerging platforms such as IGTV and Facebook Watch will change the way that consumers interact with branded content?

Consumers today, especially Gen Zers, are open to interacting with branded content as long as it’s high-quality and aligns with their consumption habits. As we say RIP to the “pivot to video” trend we saw overtake the industry over the past couple of years, in which many did video the wrong way, video solutions like IGTV and Facebook Watch are a breath of fresh air. Both products showcase the importance of allowing users to react to video in real time within a communal forum.

IGTV is mobile-first and built for how consumers use their phones. This is ideal for brands who want to use the platform to create more long-form video content, though, of course, crafting original content for both IGTV and Stories requires more time and resources. Needless to say, it’s visual-first—a requirement of great storytelling today.

In terms of Watch Party, once it’s available for Facebook Pages, we will see its true impact on brands’ engagement with their audiences. That said, having a dedicated audience watching and reacting to the same video at once is ideal for brands who can utilize comments and feedback to tweak their offerings, increase sales and shift perceptions. But to truly benefit brands’ bottom line, the product should incorporate a few add-ons before coming to Pages, such as the ability to incorporate a CTA on the video that can convert users during or post-video—whether it’s to make a purchase or learn more.

From the agency side, how will the emergence of these platforms affect your strategy and what methods of engagement have you found best to use when communicating stories to your audiences?

They don’t overlap per se, but they do have the same underlying tone which promotes our messaging of encouraging real-time dialogue and engagement via visual-first content. Playbuzz’s branded stories offering is, however, a completely different offering standalone because it is not just built on video. Video is one storytelling element that we suggest brands rely on, but not the only one.

For brands to communicate effectively with consumers, they must readjust their KPIs to align with today’s content consumption habits. Clicks and views alone do not showcase whether a consumer has had a meaningful experience with your campaign. We suggest focusing on engagement-based metrics of success such as engagements in the campaign and its dwell time, comments, votes, rankings, scroll depth and more.

The campaigns we have partnered on for the likes of Netflix, MasterCard, The College Board, Unilever, Brita, eBay and more understand the importance of seeking out user interaction and consumers’ points of views.

With the digital media landscape changing at an ever-quickening pace, how do you get consumers’ attention and admiration? How can brands best communicate their stories to and engage with their audiences?

Bombardment of ads and misuse of users’ data has been the catalyst to widespread content fatigue, leaving users reluctant to consume brand and content campaigns. Brands can craft great ad campaigns encompassing educational and entertaining information, but why should they spend the time and resources to create them if fatigued consumers won’t fully digest it?

Packaging a campaign into interactive elements to harness fleeting attention spans is a proven solution for brands who want to form deeper relationships with their audiences that are personalized and involve consumers. They uphold a positive user experience to create a paid ad for an environment that users are compelled to engage with, rather than avoid.

Creating compelling storytelling editorial and advertising content is one of the ways to effectively engage and attract the attention of modern consumers. For more strategies from brands like Playbuzz, see PSFK’s newsletters and reports.

As consumers increasingly find ways to avoid paid advertising content, brands need to look for more engaging ways to authentically connect with consumers. To survive the post-advertorial, attention economy, brands need to create compelling stories to attract loyal audiences and interactive community members. Funded by Disney, Playbuzz resolves to grow its platform by fulfilling this currently unsatisfied consumer need. The organization positions itself as an interactive storytelling platform, which creates editorial and commercial content for a plethora of brands and publishers.

+Brita
+consumer goods
+content
+disney
+Ebay
+Facebook Watch
+IGTV
+Instagram
+interactive storytelling
+Marketing
+MasterCard
+packaging & product engagement
+Playbuzz
+publishers
+quizzes
+Shopper Marketing & Promotion
+storytelling

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