LONDON: Marketers and agencies need to see distribution as a creative discipline that is factored into the start of content development if they are to deliver a truly successful campaign, a leading industry figure has said.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Mark Boyd of Gravity Road, warns of the dangers of regarding distribution as an afterthought.

"A consequence of applying 'traditional' advertising thinking to content creation and distribution has been some lonely brand films that exist only on the loony fringes of YouTube – languishing unloved and unwatched."

He suggests that, despite the fast-changing media environment, many agencies and copywriter/art director teams cling to "comfortably familiar processes" that fail to take account of the scale of the shift away from the old, mass-broadcast model.

And the rapid evolution of digital technology is not only opening up a range of new content distribution opportunities, that tech is also developing new functionalities that offer further possibilities to engage audiences.

So knowing where something will appear – and how it needs to behave there – should inform the creative idea.

"Baking distribution into the creative development process leads to content ideas that are inherently social and designed to travel," Boyd argues. "It ensures our ideas are in the right place for people to spend time with them, and are designed for success across paid, earned and owned platforms."

He points out that content audiences have the strongest engagement with the content they want to bookmark, own, return to and share because it reflects their sense of identity to themselves and their social networks.

As one example, among several, he cites a film created to showcase a new range of homeware for Sainsbury's, the UK supermarket chain, which was based on the insight that such items reveal – often unwittingly – how "grown up" the people who possess them have become.

Viewers recognised themselves in a listicle of different relatable activities associated with being house-proud – from "2. Having bowls for specific purposes" to "9. Perfecting the emergency tidy-up pre guest arrivals" – which they shared on social media.

Best practice principles of content distribution should inform the development and production of content that successfully stops the desired audience from scrolling, and gets them to start sharing, Boyd says.

Data sourced from Warc