2020 Effective Content Strategy Report – insights and themes from the global WARC Awards

11 August 2020​ ​– As countries continue to go in and out of lockdown resulting in an increased dependency on screens to inform and entertain, there is a voracious appetite for good content. In this environment, content is coming into its own, with advertisers demonstrating a clearer understanding of how a well thought out content strategy can pay off for their brands.

This development is outlined in WARC’s latest study, the ​2020 Content Strategy Report​, which provides insights and themes from the winners of the Effective Content Strategy category of the 2020 WARC Awards and the implications for advertisers, agencies and media owners.

Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies, WARC​, comments: “Following our analysis of this year’s winning case studies, we’ve identified the most effective content marketing strategies to bring actionable insights for brands and agencies to drive business success.”

WARC’s 2020 Effective Content Strategy Report identifies three key themes:

  • Content should aim to be part of culture

Considering different content formats that can be cultural properties in their own right was a popular approach among this year’s winners that included a love song, a feature film and a podcast series.

James Tucker, Senior Strategist, Colenso BBDO​, and part of the team behind this year’s Grand Prix-winning DB Export campaign, says: “​The beauty of content is that it doesn’t have to feel like an ad. It’s not confined to specific formats and length. The world always needs great content and sometimes that content can be advertising. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.”

  • Content can drive behavior change

As content can build emotional connections with audiences, it can be a powerful way to shift entrenched behaviours. At a time when behaviour change programmes around mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing have been rapidly implemented, lessons from this year’s winners about using content to drive behaviour change are especially pertinent.

Jury member ​Valerie Pinto, Chief Executive Officer, Weber Shandwick, India​, advises: “Given these uncertain times, content strategy will become integral to more brands because it will be more important to connect with audiences through relevant content led by an emotional approach. The pandemic is an opportunity for us to convert challenges into advantages, to think freely, to open our minds to new ideas, and to take decisive action faster than ever before.

Considering context benefits content strategies

A deep understanding of context can play a key role in making a content strategy more effective. This could entail a range of approaches, such as a smart partnership or hijacking a relevant media space. As lives become more screen-based and marketing budgets skew more towards digital platforms, identifying new ways for content and context to work symbiotically will become increasingly important.

Judge ​Diana Lopes, Former Strategy Director, AMV BBDO​, comments: ​“Improving consumers’ interactions with a brand is a continuous job of testing and learning that goes hand-in-hand with content development. It isn’t called consumer journey by accident: it has a direction, with a beginning, a middle and an end. And understanding context makes it far more likely for our stories to have the happy endings we seek.”

The 2020 Effective Content Strategy Report is available to WARC subscribers on ​warc.com​ and includes in-depth chapter analysis of the key themes, thought-leadership commentary from industry experts and members of the judging panel, summaries of case studies and a breakdown of different models of successful content strategies.

Next year’s WARC Awards will launch in October 2020. Free to enter, there is a $40,000 prize fund for the winning papers. View ​here​ for more information.