Thinking About the Unintentional


It’s that time of year again - as the world recovers from the news of 2016 and CES is already over in 2017. A wealth of gadgets from connected cars, drones, interactive TVs and the future of IoT have all been on display and their likely impact dissected and disseminated across the media. Shortly we’ll have Mobile World Congress where the latest in 5G potential will be explored and expounded upon by executives with a host of corresponding device launches featuring the latest technologies in screen, sound and cameras.

There are as many trade shows that provide suitable sales prospects and opportunities for high-end meetings (between the world’s brightest new technology companies) as there are major media events, where every company vies for attention, hoping they’ll be selected in Top 20 lists or given front page coverage in global media.

The value of this news coverage is supported by WE’s recent Stories in Motion research, which found that an average of 49% of respondents in the US, UK and China see positive content as motivational when they are intentionally searching a particular product category.

Before a potential customer intentionally searches to make a purchase decision, their minds are already influenced by unintentional search. These are the moments when they come across an interesting article or piece of content that creates an emotional connection with the brand. It could be positive, negative, engaging or informational. At its best it’s both informative and entertaining- unintentional search is when the mind is unguarded and therefore more open to influence.  

While it’s well known that positive product coverage and product reviews in earned media are essential to provide information that is valuable, functional and actionable to help inform the decision, this is only one part of the equation in terms of influencing people on the path to purchase. What about the other side of the coin? What about those people who don’t hear about your product or service and the benefits it could bring to them?

This is where the real opportunity lies with branded content: focusing on forging a connection with the consumer over the direct sell. Netflix did this extremely well with their branded New York Times article highlighting the broken female prison system to deliver their audience more valuable content than they were expecting around their original TV show Orange is the New Black, while Cathay Pacific’s recent Artmap Project is designed to form an emotional connection between the airline and its Marco Polo Club members by digitally creating personalized artwork based on the flight history of the customer. 

The challenge for many technology brands is that by only focusing on large shows such as CES and MWC the content becomes product-orientated and serves only as a peak in conversations (see Faraday Future’s FF91 supercar).Companies tend to forget the need to develop content that helps generate an ongoing connection with the brand or product beyond just the showcase event and through to the wider market launch. This seamless offline/online strategy provides a momentum that encourages greater engagement and consumer interest, leading more people to share brand content, create positive word of mouth and ultimately drive them into the sales funnel.

So if your brand is looking to have the greatest impact, perhaps look beyond simply providing content that is informative and start thinking about how you can brand content that is entertaining or drives some form of social good with a view of leaving a lasting connection.