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Opinion and Insight
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Your Teenager is Making Better Content than You

CHI & Partners, 3 months, 1 week ago

At Cannes 2016 the ad industry needs to figure out how to keep up with the kids, says Oliver Feldwick, CHI&Partners’ Head of Digital Strategy

Your Teenager is Making Better Content than You

We’ve all grown up making video content. Maybe you remember the time your family got their first camcorder. Capturing family moments on reels upon reels of forgotten tape. Or you had a friend with a super-8, or your first digital camera that could shoot 30 seconds of grainy film.

Then we continued to make video in our professional lives. Video made for brands, shot on film, using expensive cameras, crews, production meetings. Video that then takes weeks of editing, of post production. That needs to be physically supplied to a television network, days in advance.

All of a sudden, this doesn’t matter. In a world where a video, shot on a phone by a Texas mum in a car park, in vertical, with two big black letterboxes down either side and shared just to a small community of friends and followers can get over 150m views within a week. It’s clear that the world has changed.

We’re in a world where the average teen can do this without thinking. Snapchat has exceeded the number of daily views of Facebook, getting over 10b daily views.

Video is the modern language of the next generation. As Denison University notes in its “Engaging and Cultivating Millennials & Gen Z” study, the new generation is visual by default, preferring visual engagement to texts. The texting generation of millennials has given way to the visual generation, creating billions of videos daily.

Video that is shot, edited and published on a phone. Instantly. 

Video that breaks all the rules. Shot in vertical video. Handheld and shaky.

Video that tries something new. Like sticking a GoPro in a dishwasher. Or on a drone, or a rollercoaster.

Video that’s designed to be as disposable as a text message. Not polished for an audience of millions but thrown together for an audience of tens.

The average teen today probably produces more content before breakfast than the average baby-boomer makes in their entire life.

Snapchat has created a whole generation comfortable shooting in vertical video, using live rendering and AR software, and curating and broadcasting live and semi-live content. All essential and savvy skills at the forefront of our industry. All hot topics on panels across Cannes next week.

Picasso said that, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. This is also true of technology. As we go into this exciting new era of video, how can grown-up marketers keep up?

Importantly, we need to make sure our baggage doesn’t hold us back. We’re using equipment that can’t shoot natively in vertical, we never learnt about creating VR film at film school, our processes and muscle memory put us on the back foot.

We need to relearn these skills for the modern landscape. We need to experiment, innovate, and break the rules. Play around with 360 content, with vertical video. Make more disposable video, make more mistakes.

But at the same time, we need to bring our expertise to the table as well. The eternal truths of film-making will largely remain the same and give us a solid ground to work from. The next era of video will only succeed by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Even more excitingly, we can now use data from all the video we create to understand what makes people laugh, cry, lean in, listen and share. Something that Unruly are doing right now – using their ShareRank technology to see what reaction video gets almost in real time – and will be exploring at News UK’s panel debate on the Anatomy of Great Content in Cannes. Data means we are no longer producing video in a vacuum.

If we fail to learn from all this data, if we fail to embrace and play with all this innovation, and if we fail to update our knowledge, we will be left in the dust by the coming generation of video natives.

We’re already seeing interesting experiments coming out – from Sickhouse, the Snapchat native horror film, to Pearl, a Google experiment in 360 storytelling.

This year, at Cannes, the industry will be asking themselves if we can speak the language as well as the next generation. If we’re not, we’d be wise to step out of their way.