In the break-neck alternative world of digital media, the landscape of video content creation can seem like its constantly undergoing some sort of revolutionary shift. Gone are the days when high-end production quality was the ultimate benchmark for success. Today, the emphasis is on the concept and the message rather than the gloss of production. The influence is bleeding into TV advertising now too, with most of us being targeted online instead. The “New EE” campaign launched this month is a big-brand example of this. https://newsroom.ee.co.uk/ee-enters-new-era-with-biggest-brand-launch-in-a-decade/ - Not only does it focus sharply on every-day authentic situations, it captures them in the same way we do, every day, bringing it together in an ultra-slick fast tempo reportage, choreographed in lockstep with a selection of big, impactful beats and slightly-off-the-mainstream tunes.
The result is a really modern, relevant campaign that morphs and adapts brilliantly across TV, social. It looks like the people it wants to attract and from the look of it, that really is everyone.
But this isn’t ripped directly from a meme or grabbed-from-Youtube and adapted for TV footage (See We Buy Any Car’s latest earworm musical slogan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2MgUylgAPo
This is big agency, big budget stuff, it’s great, and while it’s slick, evidently expensively researched and executed, the adverts don’t want to show you where the money’s gone, they want you to focus on watching people like you, filmed by people like you.
In fact, the more "smartphone" the footage is, the better. This paradigm shift reflects a growing audience demand for authenticity and relatability in the content they consume.
The Rise of Authenticity
In the not-so-distant past, professional-grade cameras, intricate lighting setups, and sophisticated editing were the keys to setting out difference – ‘we’ve spent money on this, look at those panoramas’ and even further back, having video marketing at all would have set you apart. YouTube et al have rewritten the rules. Audiences are now drawn to content that feels real, unfiltered, and, most importantly, authentic.
Smartphones are now at the forefront of this revolution. Their accessibility and ease of use have empowered creators to capture moments spontaneously, without the constraints of elaborate setups. The process of shooting, editing, lighting – everything – has been completely democratised and with it, the final say on what’s cool and what’s not. Brands follow trends now, they don’t create them. Connecting with your tribe is first about listening to them and now, watching their videos.
Add a dose of AI on top of that and the ability to quickly seek out patterns is like never before, and can be done in almost no time at all. This shift has given rise to a new breed of content that thrives on rawness and immediacy, breaking away from the polished facade that defined the previous era.
Concept Trumps Production
While production quality certainly has its place, the era of high production budgets as a guarantee of success for marketing has gone. Audiences are drawn to content that resonates with them on a deeper level – content that tells a compelling story or conveys a meaningful message. This marks a departure from the conventional wisdom that the more cinematic a video, the more successful it will be.
Consider the success of videos that have gone viral on platforms like TikTok. Nearly all of these videos are shot on smartphones, utilizing the limitations of the device to enhance rather than detract from the content. The focus is on the concept, the humour, or the relatability rather than the pixel-perfect production quality, to the point where the subpar quality does a full 180 into desirable attribute. It’s cray cray! This shift is a testament to the changing priorities of viewers who value substance over style.
The Democratisation of Content Creation
Smartphones have become the great equalizers in the world of content creation. (writer disappears briefly into a favourite-phones-I-owned-before-they-got-cleverrabbit hole – take a bow Nokia 6210) With a powerful - snoop-level-ten - camera in almost every pocket, anyone can become a content creator. This democratisation of content creation has given a voice to the masses, allowing individuals with unique perspectives and stories to share them with the world, for better or for worse.
This accessibility has sparked a renaissance in storytelling. Now, the success of a video is not determined by the resources behind it but by the creativity and authenticity embedded within it. This shift has forced established creators and brands to reevaluate their strategies, realizing that connecting with audiences requires more than just a polished exterior.
Breaking the Perfection Myth
The pursuit of perfection in video production often led to a sanitized and homogenized version of reality. Audiences today are hungry for genuine experiences that reflect the messiness and imperfections of life. Smartphone-shot content, with its occasional shaky cam or unfiltered lighting, captures the essence of the moment in a way that highly produced videos often miss.
This departure from perfection has implications for marketers and advertisers as well. Brands are finding success in campaigns that embrace authenticity, even if it means sacrificing the veneer of perfection. Consumers are more likely to engage with content that feels real, relatable, and aligns with their own lived experiences.
Adapting to the New Normal
It's imperative for creators, brands, and marketers to adapt to the new normal. Embracing the "smartphone aesthetic" doesn't mean abandoning quality altogether; it means redefining what quality looks like in the context of authenticity and relatability.
Creators should focus on developing compelling concepts, crafting narratives that resonate with their audience, and leveraging the immediacy that smartphones provide. It's about capturing the raw, unfiltered moments that make content memorable, rather than relying on the gloss of post-production enhancement.
The future of video content lies in its ability to connect with audiences on a personal and emotional level. The shift from production-centric to concept-driven content marks a turning point in the way we perceive and create videos. The democratization of content creation through smartphones has given rise to a new era where authenticity reigns supreme.
In this age, the success of a video is not determined by the pixels it boasts but by the impact it leaves. Creators, brands, and marketers who embrace this shift and prioritize meaningful concepts over flashy production will find themselves at the forefront of a new era in digital storytelling—one where authenticity is the key to capturing hearts and minds.
As we navigate this evolving landscape, let us remember that the power of a story lies not in its gloss but in its ability to resonate, inspire, and connect. The era of the smartphone aesthetic is here to stay, and it brings with it a promise of genuine, unfiltered storytelling that transcends the boundaries of traditional production norms.
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