Creative

Waste Not, Want Not: Modular Content Serves Everyone a Slice 

03-03-2021
Written by

Sue Cahaly

As grating as the term “content is king” may be, one thing is for sure: It’s the only monarch effectively fostering goodwill and growing in popularity. Currently, 84% of B2C content marketers call their content marketing programs successful, with about 60%  expecting to increase their content budgets this year in efforts to drive brand awareness, educate consumers and build credibility.

Good content marketing builds brand identity and consistency; successful content marketing engages the consumer, nurturing loyalty. Building goodwill this way is effective, with 70% of consumers saying that customized content shows that organizations want to forge genuine connections with them. Those connections bring more than just warm fuzzies, showing that a loyal customer is worth 10 times the dollar value of their first purchase.

One of the ways brands can engage directly and personalize touchpoints effectively across platforms is with modular content. A modular approach breaks away from one-at-a-time asset creation providing a flexible, scalable and testable way to stretch content across channels to meet more customers.

How Modular Content Maximizes Creative Assets

Modular content is remixable, like a set of Legos. You can create one large asset from many blocks, or you can pull out sections and individual pieces to reconfigure into entirely different scenarios. Along with being endlessly configurable, it’s also easily tested and refined. 

However,  just like Legos, your modular content components need a sturdy foundation if you plan to build them out. For example, let’s say you do a 30-second spot with dialogue, but you didn’t think about modularization during the planning stages. When the spot is complete, it will be impossible to slice up into multiple usable pieces for different channels, since each piece is context-dependent on the larger narrative.

If you had planned ahead, you could have worked in sections specifically intended to stand on their own. That way, the segments at seconds 9–14 or seconds 22–27 (or any given section) could be plucked out for double-duty elsewhere. And the order of “content units” in such a video doesn’t have to be A–Z. It can be F+B+Y or nearly any variation that makes sense within the context of the whole story. 

“Creating modular content is not simply an executional afterthought where we try to capture as much as possible from a production standpoint,” says Michelle Moscone,  Head of Creative Operations at WITHIN, “but really the basis of our ideation process. The team really challenges itself creatively to ideate around visual vignettes and other aspects of the shoot to extrapolate as many scenarios as possible from the same set of variables.”

Consider this 30-second spot created by WITHIN for Anheuser-Busch.

The two paid social ads, below, were created from the same video shoot session as the full-length TV commercial. 

     

Plan Your Storytelling in Advance

When producing your own modular content, think about building in “content units.” Pay close attention to how you tell a story and make sure the concept lends itself to modularization. If it doesn’t, look for moments that can function as standalone elements. 

Below, a still from the same shoot functions as a banner on an e-commerce partner’s site.

To illustrate with another familiar scenario, let’s say you have two ads that look almost identical, but the text varies. In that case, you’re isolating copy as the testable variable, and you take the highest-performing version of the ad into the next iteration. Then you’d isolate and test another variable, like the image, animation, logo placement, and so on. 

Modular content takes a step beyond just a visual variation or different text designed for a single campaign: it can mean using multiple actors for the same part in a video, for example. The video team can shoot each actor in a number of settings to test backgrounds, with ample variations in detail and imagery. 

For a two-person spot, consider having three actors read both parts through, in three different settings. This approach allows you to test, build, and make adjustments. Which actors drive clicks in which role? Which background drives the most engagement? You can isolate and test each element to see what resonates best with each audience,  then continue to iterate and refine. The same goes for testing backgrounds for product shots. You can take static assets and test different types of animation and remixes, then mix, test, and match to audience preference. 

With a little extra planning, modular content can help you not only stretch precious marketing dollars, but also distill cross-platform content creation into one project. By considering all of your assets as a series of content units rather than a singular,  insular production, you can consistently engage more consumers, more effectively, ultimately increasing your marketing  ROI.

Once your assets are ready to go, it’s important to get attribution right, so all that hard work ends up working for you. If you want to make smart decisions to optimize content and channel strategy, let’s talk.