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Long-Form Storytelling: The New Paradigm Shift for Marketers

In a world where 4,000 advertising messages hit us on a daily basis, to describe attention as a scarce resource feels like the understatement of the century. Brands have a multitude of platforms competing for consumers’ attention – social, online, TV, radio, billboard, VOD – with competitors fighting to utilise each and every platform more effectively.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given how bombarded consumers are on a daily – even hourly – basis, a recent study by UK think tank Credos suggests favourability towards advertising has halved since the 1990s.

Brands need to respond – and not just with more adverts. The very way brands talk to consumers needs to change.

Over the last 15 years, the industry has become brilliant at telling people where to buy and how to buy, through high-frequency, short-message campaigns. It’s been very effective – only consumers no longer need to be told where and how to buy. Instead, they need to be told why to buy.

Brands don’t just need to focus on communicating product and price, but also company values and practices. They need more of their consumers’ time and attention, two things they aren’t currently getting.

And a younger audience of consumers who rely on their values and beliefs when making purchase decisions is unlikely to respond to messaging around price. This audience is going to respond to brands with which they feel a connection.

Enter long-form video content, the antidote to the age of distraction. Brand video is hardly a new concept, and the data out there around its use is compelling. Viewers retain 95% of a message they’ve watched on a video – compare this to just 10% of written content. And a full 72% would rather learn about a product or service from video.

In fact, 85% of consumers want to see more video from brands. They’ll reward them with their attention.

On our platform, Biites, created to distribute the very best of branded video content, our average viewing time is 5.5 minutes – a statistic that becomes even more impressive when you consider we have plenty of content with a playing time of less than 5.5 minutes.

It’s our belief that brands are moving away from being advertisers and more into becoming experts and entertainers. Long-form video content helps them do this because it allows them to tell a story.

But it requires a paradigm shift from marketers who need to step away from the temptation to create five-minute adverts, and instead concentrate on storytelling and using producers and creators with that specific skillset.

Consumers don’t want to watch long adverts, but they do want to watch great content and they’ll willingly watch that content from brands, as long as it’s completely transparent.

At Biites, we have a saying that ‘all programs on our platform are branded, and we are proud’. And we believe this is why we see such incredible engagement with our content. We don’t try to hide anything, and we know consumers don’t like being deceived.

In fact, our focus groups have shown that not only are consumers happy to watch content from brands, but they also find this adds a layer of trustworthiness, because brands have an undisputed expertise in their sector and with their target market. If you’re a car lover, content from Jaguar Land Rover has an added layer of prestige and value. It’s no great leap for brands to turn their presence into an asset.

Ultimately to be successful long-form content needs to be relevant. Brands need to emotionally connect with audiences, and take them into a universe that reflects their interests, passions, and lifestyle choices, in an entertaining manner.

Content that appears on Biites from brands like Jaguar Land Rover, booking.com and Carlsberg works and gets amazing viewing rates because it’s fundamentally really good content. There are no short cuts to producing content of this level, and brands need to be brave to do so. But it also leaves them with a piece of ‘evergreen’ content that serves the brand over a much longer period of time.

Brands also need to put thought into how to distribute their content. Far too much quality long-form content being cut into smaller pieces for social media. With the full-length version ending up hidden on a staff intranet, YouTube channel, or website that is never really utilised to its full potential.

Biites was created to fill the obvious gap in the market for a platform that caters for long-form content where users can easily engage and explore categories and interests without being relentlessly sold to.

Long-form content also presents a double opportunity in that brands can produce shorter versions for channels like Instagram and TikTok and create a mix of content to appeal to as wide an audience as possible – and capture as much of their attention as possible.

In my opinion, the biggest entertainment shows will be brand funded within the next ten years. It’s going to be the main type of content we all watch and enjoy. So, to get the attention you’re looking for from customers, now is the time to make some brave choices about long-form content. Don’t get left behind.

Helle Jabiri Falck is CCO/COO & Founder at Biites. 

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