Emily Ratajkowski.

From social influencers to integrated content, brands and retailers are embracing robust strategies to best align with consumers, despite their fluctuating preferences.

In addition to celebrity-level influencers, brands’ content also goes beyond social platforms and now is taking on new responsibilities to capture – and maintain – consumer interest. Here, Myles Peacock, chief executive officer of Creative Drive, a content creation agency, discusses the evolution of the branding tool, how to best shape strategies, and pitfalls to avoid.

WWD: How have marketing strategies been shaped by the increasing relevance of content?

Myles Peacock: Creating relevant content that meaningfully connects has never been more important. As such it is critical that developed content is also executed with expertise across the various platforms.

Agility is key, and a smart strategy for brands is to really explore data opportunities behind their own firewalls, so they always know what their consumers need and care about. To become nimble and effective, brands also need to partner with creative content production companies that have the talent and technologies to meet the surging demand for content.

WWD: As visually driven content and video rise in priority to Millennials and Gen Z-ers, what new practices should brands be looking to implement now to adjust to the new medium?

M.P.: It’s very clear that visually driven content and video provides clear results and enhances the relevancy and experience. Brands need to embrace video as being fluid and channel-agnostic. Video is no longer a passive experience and if brands want to connect with Millennial and Gen Z audiences, marketers have to come up with creative ways to get these groups to actively engage. Video is one of the top mediums for showcasing what a brand stands for and what it’s doing to make the world a better place. One particular best practice is to bring together content specialties to create new immersive, emotive experiences.

WWD: What pitfalls should brands avoid when deploying custom content activations?

M.P.: Not having a focused content strategy before deploying custom content production can cause a brand to send out mixed messages to their audiences. Having a clear vision and clearly articulating what you stand for is how to inspire consumers to fall in love with your brand and make sure it is conducive to the target channels.

WWD: How is the role of the influencer changing? What does this mean for brands looking to partner with them?

M.P.: Influencer marketing is still driven by niche influencers. What separates niche influencers from the rest of the crowd is their specialized knowledge and passions in specific areas and their ability to build trust and communicate value to their followers.

Brands looking to partner with influencers must nurture and support the content they are comfortable producing and avoid overscripting and restricting an influencer’s creativity and authenticity. It’s critical that influencers have authenticity to be effective.

WWD: Retailers have been slow to embrace agile mobile user experiences – what are best practices from other industries that can be applied to the fashion apparel category?

M.P.: Most of the content we consume is on mobile. The brands that have been the most successful no longer see mobile as a distinct channel, but as an extension of the individual. As more everyday objects become Internet-enabled, the more we’ll see companies testing new mobile content formats and ways for consumers to discover and immerse themselves.

Fashion has a lot of great opportunities to adapt and get an edge on mobile. In-app advertising works well because it’s enhanced by data, allowing marketers to create highly targeted content. Two ways fashion brands can embrace mobile is by targeting attendees at a fashion show through geo-targeting and by designing an advertisement that is implemented seamlessly within a game or lifestyle app commonly used by their consumers versus an unwelcomed interruption from a randomly placed banner ad.

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