Premium Social: How to Hit the Brakes on the 65km-Per-Year Scroll

The following is a guest contributed post from Ben Le Tourneau, Integrated Director, The Operators.

How far do you scroll on your phone in any given day? Recent findings suggest it may be more than you realize.

Today, the average smartphone user is said to scroll some 178 metres every 24 hours on their device – or to put it another way, that’s 65km per year of thumb dragging through a seemingly infinite catalogue of content. That’s more than most people run.

For “power users”, that number can stretch to a whopping 101km per year – a hundred thousand metres of status updates, tweets, photos, emails, event invites, whatsapp messages, news stories, and, occasionally, advertisements.

Social advertising has grown in prominence over recent years – it’s clearly where audiences live, and access to engagement analysis makes for a welcome change to the unknown quantity that is traditional above the line channels. And brands are taking notice – it was a few short months ago that Adidas turned its back on TV commercials, preferring instead to focus on online strategy with a $4.25b target. Online, and particularly social media, has taken over.

But how can social advertising stand out from such a cacophonous environment? The answer – and arguably the future of online advertising itself – is to be found in Premium Social.

“Premium Social” is how we refer to high-end, high-quality, high-volume images and video, developed specifically for social media with a budget perhaps more constricted than that of a standard campaign – but content that nevertheless aspires to the same production values and approach as a typical television advertisement.

To get more granular – it’s content that catches the eye, using the restrictions of the format and channels it’s hosted on to its benefit, rather than resigning to them as inflexible limitations. It’s exciting, concise visuals that jump out from the online milieu, causing people to stop that seemingly never-ending scroll. It’s the top-quality production values condensed and filtered to a format that Generation Z are really paying attention to.

We’re living in the age where attention spans are shorter than ever. You need to battle against the colossal temptation of the continued scroll: your need to elicit a reaction and a sense of brand awareness in the momentary 5-inch swipe past your Instagram ad. A static image thrown together in Photoshop isn’t going to cut it (and isn’t even preferred by some social platform’s algorithms).

Content premium in nature is the only route to success.

At The Operators Creative, we’ve been working to perfect the art and approach to creating Premium Social alongside agencies such as Poke London, BMB and INITIALS for brands like Heineken, Samsung and Monkey Shoulder.

We love to use social spaces creatively and engagingly, looking for unique ways to entice audiences with the high-quality visuals they’re accustomed to on the big screen, but formatted to their phone. Techniques spread the gamut from beer ads with depth and animated backgrounds to playful VFX living room trickery and stop-motion cocktail recipes. It’s all about mixed media – from shooting to digital wizardry in post.

But it’s about more than good ideas. Online creative is high volume by nature – television is one format and one alone; social is Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and a great deal more. Pair that with the need for premium quality, and you’re looking at a new kind of challenge.

The key is to be found in production agility. Yes, you need a team experienced in shooting, direction, post, timing, and even sound production (Facebook videos now automatically come with sound, after all) but also a team that fully understands the process, that knows you’re delivering to vertical, to square, to landscape – and that knows these demands might change. If a client wants to add Snapchat to the mix in the eleventh hour, do you want to go and reshoot? Or do you want to consider the possibilities, shoot in preparation, and build a process that allows for easy manipulation of end results?

Premium Social is exciting – it’s still new, and there are very little rules, but creatives need to bend traditional processes by being nimble, smart, and creative. Creative outfits that aren’t prepared for this eventuality are the ones that will fall behind in 2018.

The landscape has changed. Two years ago, brands would balk at the very thought of spending £100k on a social campaign. Now they’re funneling that same money into the social channels we scroll through every day.

Thankfully, high-quality and high-volume mixed media content that works across multiple platforms, both online and out of home, can co-exist: 2018’s successful agencies will be those that learn to have their cake and eat it.