In my previous post, I stated that Ogilvy & Mather’s Red Paper about “The Digital Social Contract” would make other agencies green with envy. Actually, it’s much more like to make them purple with rage. Yes, the first 41 pages are full of strategic insights and critical data. But the last 59 pages examine the latest trends in the digital video marketing business and provide some tactical advice that should cause many of the Baby Boomers – “the olds” – in the eyeball business to suffer collective apoplexy.

Why? Because brands, advertisers, and media companies are no longer in control. Heck, they aren’t even the gatekeepers who determine who will take power. It’s like watching the recent election in Myanmar (formerly Burma), where the opposition party of the Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi just won a landslide victory in the country’s historic nationwide elections, while the ruling party backed by the military and the establishment couldn’t find a way to hang on to power after five decades of military rule and a series of rigged or canceled elections. Only, Myanmar has a population of 53 million, while the country Ogilvy & Mather’s Red Paper examines is YouTube Nation, which has a population of over a billion people.

6 Trends Fueling the Community Revolution

As I mentioned in the first edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, which was published back in 2009, YouTube Nation also has its own language, culture, and customs, as well as its own folk heroes. And it’s clear that most of the members of the ruling establishment in the eyeballs business still don’t speak the language, aren’t familiar with the culture or customs, and wouldn’t know the folk heroes if they bumped into them at YouTube Brandcast or VidCon.

So, here are the six trends in the digital video marketing business that “The Digital Social Contract” says are fueling the creator revolution:

  1. Passion Trumps Production. Viewers can tell when passion is authentic, or just a cynical ploy to garner attention.
  2. Community, Not Content, is King. Understanding this new generation of community and fandom is an essential requirement. This new group dictates the way social platforms work for brands, so work with them.
  3. Be Engagement-driven, Not Hit-driven. Fan communities can’t just 'talked to', they require collaborating with.
  4. Think Small to Achieve Big. Thanks to the ongoing engagement between creators and their fans, the former can now better financially sustain more niche businesses than ever before.
  5. Make Universes, Not Content. I.e. create the right kind of content for each platform. That's why every brand needs a multi-platform video strategy because one size does not fit all anymore.
  6. Revenue Grows When it Disappears. The Mobile Generation hates being sold to, at least in an obvious way, so brands need to get more creative with revenue streams.

There are 20 pages of supporting evidence backing up and amplifying these six trends. So, if you want more details, they are in the Red Paper. And you’ll want to spend some time thinking about them, because some of the tactical advice that Ogilvy & Mather provides is going to be somewhat counter-intuitive or downright controversial to anyone in first-world countries who isn’t 12 to 30 years old and therefore wasn’t born and raised on the Internet.

Brands Must Act to Keep Up With Their Audience

According to “The Digital Social Contract,” there are four distinct actions brands must take in order to thrive in the online-content space, and each involves letting go of habits from television advertising:

  1. Know That Community is King: Brands need to move past the terms 'user' or 'consumer' and instead treat people for who they actually are - community members and active participants in the process.
  2. Work with Influencers Who Have Real Passion: Brands have so much to learn from creators who have created content that really resonates with an audience.
  3. Increase Revenue by Letting it Fade. Forcing your pre-roll ads on the audience of online video creators is disruptive and breaks the bond the viewer has with the content at that very moment. That's why YouTube developed the skippable TrueView pre-roll unit - they understood the disruption and wanted to lessen the disconnect.
  4. Foster Engagement: Brands have always struggled to build true relationships with their fans, because traditionally, brands want to sell products,not build friendships. But things are changing, and the new digital landscape requires advertisers to do just that. Brands should now be collaborating with creators and Influencers, and also generating their own one-on-one relationship with their audience.

Online video is not the minor leagues for TV any more than TV was the grapefruit league for radio back the Mad Men era. According to Ogilvy & Mather’s Red Paper, online video is “sui generis,” which is Latin for “of its own kind; in a class by itself; unique.” It concludes, “Incredible opportunity waits for those brands that figure all of this out.”

You can read the full Red Paper report in the embed below: