As collaborative marketing grows, creative control remains key

Collaborating with creators is a powerful tool for brands, but giving over creative control comes with its own risks. How can brands continue to create home-grown content that connects with audiences, while keeping their hands on the wheel?

Anthony Lamy, VP EMEA Client Partners at VidMob, explains the importance of creative partnerships for social platform content development in emerging web3 spaces and how brands can connect with the right creator.

We’re a far cry from the early megaphone days of Web 1.0. Instead of broadcasting generic messages to mass audiences, the second online era has seen brands focus on interaction, frequently via social media. So, it’s no surprise that as Web 3.0 takes shape, social platforms are now looking to provide mechanisms for closer connection, such as TikTok’s ‘Branded Mission’.

Allowing brands to commission videos from creators, TikTok’s offering is the logical next step in collaborative marketing and outsourcing. Opening the creative floor, however, isn’t entirely risk free. While home-grown content can help strike a more genuine chord with audiences, brands must also ensure that creative is consistent, optimised and in line with key messaging and guidelines. In the advertising clutter, a distinctive and consistent brand identity is crucial to avoid the pitfalls of forgettable creative and, above all, maintain trust.

Before collaborating with external contributors, brands must understand the dynamics of new creative opportunities, the best practices of each social media platform and ensure they can stay in firm yet flexible control of content across environments. To achieve that, they will require smart support — by using the tools which put them in the know, there is no need for guesswork.

How is social partnership changing?

When demand rises, first-to-market suppliers seize the early benefits. So, it’s no surprise that as brands are utilising speedy content generation and increasingly tapping into influencer power, social players have rapidly moved to launch partnership services. Since TikTok debuted its Creator Marketplace, many other platforms have unveiled their own iterations, including YouTube’s BrandConnect and Meta’s test hub for Instagram.

Branded Mission comes from the same broad mould. It shares a similar key purpose of helping brands create promotional content that integrates seamlessly with its surroundings, boosting the chances of positive audience response and minimising frustration caused by clunky, out-of-place ads.

Like its marketplace predecessors, creator rewards — such as ad revenue share and enhanced traffic — present appealing incentives for top talent to work with brands. But there are also important differences. Thus far, most partnership hubs have offered refined ‘shopping’ options; with brands able to search for matches using location and category filters, as well as assessing individual reach, views, and engagement rates.

The crowdsourcing model puts much less emphasis on careful creator selection. Mirroring TikTok’s ‘challenges’, brands send out briefs and receive submissions, from which they select the winners to turn into ads.

Avoiding content overload

The commission approach has several positives; the biggest being that brands can obtain authentic creative to order, and leverage the halo effect of association with popular creators. It does, however, leave vast room for highly varied interpretations of their requests and mixed content quality; especially considering the relatively low barrier to entry. Branded Mission participants only need 1,000 followers, versus 100,000 for the Creator Marketplace. Although brands have the capacity to configure creative once chosen — applying standard colours, fonts, and logos — they must sort through huge volumes of content first.

Running lengthy manual approval processes raises the risk of not only negating any production time saved, but also falling behind the quick shifting social trends and topics. Moreover, there is a risk that creative nuances don’t align with their image or values, and messaging may still be missed.

In a climate where audiences want streamlined interactions with instantly recognisable and responsible brands, efficient creative management is vital. Beyond just issuing prescriptive briefs, those looking to harness creator input should make the most of analytical advances. Leveraging subsets of artificial intelligence (AI) such as computer vision, creative analytics tools can now run granular evaluation against specific parameters. Harnessing such solutions will make it easier for brands to check whether each submission complies with best practices, at speed and scale.

Cementing community relevance

Among the other key advantages of user-generated content is, of course, inherent tailoring. Creators with deep knowledge of platforms should be in the perfect position to craft suitable creative, in terms of ad specs and advertising policies; see TikTok’s ban on alcohol, gambling, dieting, and political promotions. But simply making sure ads are fit for platform isn’t always enough. Alongside meeting basic guidelines, ads need to engage target audiences.

Every social network is home to a rich blend of interest-based communities. In fact, Sofia Hernandez, head of TikTok’s business marketing, recently declared they have become the new social demographics. After identifying the right content for their brand, businesses must therefore focus on finding the fastest path to creative that works best for specific user groups.

Integrated measurement tools are a good jumping off point. Since launching its Creator Marketplace API, TikTok has provided access to first-party data about campaign performance, which video ads fuel the greatest results, and details on interaction across audience segments, covering views, likes, shares, and comments.

To fully understand how efforts are resonating, however, brands will need to combine this insight with data that delves into the DNA of individual ads and determines what effect they make on different communities within social platforms.

There is a growing body of evidence to show factors such colour saturation, how much of the screen is occupied by text, and which emotions a model conveys can significantly impact user receptivity. Our own research has found entertainment brands serving video ads on Snapchat achieve a 40% higher swipe rate when the opening scene uses high visual contrast, while viewing time jumps by 33% when featured talent use angry facial expressions in the first few seconds.

The most sophisticated video analytics solutions can capture all of these elements; assessing ads on a frame-by-frame basis to track the responses yielded by unique ad components. This creative intelligence equips brands with the means to determine which parts of ads hit the mark for their desired interest-based communities and collaborate more successfully with creators: using comprehensive insight to continually enhance relevance and engagement over time.

Moreover, they will also have hard data to highlight where strictly upholding the brand playbook is worthwhile and when relaxing guidelines on colour use, emotion, or call-to-action placement could improve audience connections, without jeopardising brand identity. Greater access to fresh contributor input is no bad thing for advertising. As users call for purposeful, personal, and authentic messaging, it’s encouraging to see brands embracing opportunities to welcome external creators, instead of sticking with standardised creative.

However, brands collaborating with third-parties must maintain control over how their brand is portrayed and harnessing available tools to bolster creative intelligence is essential to enable versatile and brand safe collaboration.

By Anthony Lamy

VP EMEA Client Partners