Content Creation Must Change with Consumption

There is a special guest at the DTG Summit every year, and in 2016 that was Nathalie Nahai, the ‘web psychologist’. Although not directly involved in the media, she used her experience to speak about ‘What digital consumers want from media technology’.

Video consumption is changing. It is more consumer-controlled; adverts can be skipped or blocked, and binge watching is on the rise. Consuming video today is a social, device-agnostic experience. Content comes from many different platforms, such as YouTube, Netflix and even Vine; younger consumers consider all of these to be ‘TV’ platforms.

The old TV model was ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘Where’: what was being shown, when and where? Now we have added ‘Why’ and ‘How’: why will people watch, and how will they access content?

Sometimes, people will watch ‘just because’. Nahai pointed to a meme, called ‘Damn, Daniel’, where a student had decided to video his friend Daniel in a new pair of Vans shoes. This was posted to Twitter and became so famous (for no apparent reason) that Vans supplied both boys with a lifetime supply of shoes. Talk about good marketing!

Other reasons to watch are pattern disruption (like this Geico advert:; a change in emotional state (“This is why the internet is full of cats”); and group participation (people join together and have a conversation, face-to-face or online, about a programme. Tom Hiddleston’s bottom being shown in The Night Manager, aka ‘The Hiddlebum’, was a great example!).

TV and video have become social because they do some key things. They are a carrier for ’emotional contagion’ (they infect other people with an emotional state); indicate the mood of the sharer; act as social commentary; and can create a shared cultural experience (the Hiddlebum, again). Shared videos reflect who we are, who our friends are and what is acceptable within that group.

Expectations when watching video online including quality of service, equal access (worldwide access) and the ability to binge-watch. This consumer behaviour has forced, and is forcing, the industry to change its approach to video. Nahai said that we must “use the audience as distributors,” who will share videos publicly and privately (through Likes, Retweets, etc).

How can social video be used to amplify TV? Nahai identified three key points:

  • Identify when and where the target market is active;
  • Choose the right platform (Twitter, for example, is left-leaning on the political spectrum); and
  • Create content for that platform.

Youtube stick of butterYes, really – and it has 1.2 million viewsNahai gave advice on how to create shareable, clickable titles. She showed (part of) a video titled ‘This Stick Of Butter Is Left Out At Room Temperature; You Won’t Believe What Happens Next’. It is a three-hour clip of a stick of butter, on a plate, and nothing else. “This is what you’re competing with!” she shouted at the audience. Her advice amounted to building ‘clickbait’, i.e. ‘Four ways in which Game of Thrones is like The Great British Bake Off – you won’t believe #3!’. An individualised thumbnail, which is not just a screengrab from the video, is also important.

An audience member called Nahai out on building clickbait, saying, “Given the prevalence of clickbait, and the increasing realisation that it is clickbait, how long will it be before it stops working?” Research shows that the trend is not stopping, said Nahai – clickbait is still being clicked. However, it is important to deliver on your promise. Your content must be tied to the title.