Personalised video content: how far can you take it?

When an unknown band from Manchester makes revolutionary, personalised video content, you know your brand needs to up its content game

What did you do last night?

I could tell you that I was hitting the bars and clubs of London’s West End. Or taking a stroll along the Southbank to catch something at the National Theatre.

In reality, I was sitting on my sofa registering my IKEA Family card.

After tapping in my membership number, the screen widened and a video started playing. A train rolled into a station and a cheerful man wearing glasses starting waving. “James!” he called out, welcoming me by name.

Perhaps I’m a sucker, but I smiled.

Interactive video

The man introduced himself: “Hi, I’m Lars. Welcome to Ålmhult.”

The small town of Ålmhult (population circa 9,000) lies in the south of Sweden and is the home of the first IKEA store, opened in 1958. The video was a walking tour of the town, hosted by Lars and made to welcome me to the retailer’s loyalty scheme.

The name thing was fun, but easy enough to tailor I suppose. (It did make me wonder how many names they had recorded in order to cover their bases.)

But there was more to come. The video had requested access to my computer’s microphone – and now I could see why. Lars took me through how to pronounce IKEA with a proper Swedish accent (“Ee-kee-yah”) and rated my effort. It was beginning to feel like one of those ‘choose your own path’ adventure books. Undoubtedly effective though, and pulled off with the kind of aplomb you would expect from design experts.

“Would you like tea or coffee?” Lars poured from the pot accordingly. “Which free gift would you like?” And on it went.

Tailored content

A content gimmick it may be, but a thoroughly engaging one.

And the idea is increasingly common. Manchester band Shaking Chains have released new single called Midnight Oil. The video is uniquely tailored so that it changes each time you watch it.

A clever algorithm grabs short clips from YouTube based on an ever-changing set of search terms that relate to lyrics of the song. The first time I watched it, the video threw up a dog in a bear costume, fashion models falling over on the runway, CCTV footage, wrestling video games and hanging cow carcasses.

The second time, there was indeed a different set of bizarre clips – the same rattling rockabilly song playing all the while. You can have a go yourself here.

How can content marketers get on board?

Totally unique content is a tough trick to pull off. But the rewards are there. Both of these videos have nailed the wonder factor that personalised content can deliver.

In the case of the music video, machine learning is now being introduced so that the video will start to produce its own search terms – and therefore new video clips.

For content marketers, the challenge is to find a way of making videos for clients that is both unique and engaging. Automation and location-specific content is already widespread, but not to the extent of being individual – can it go further?

There are plenty of analytics available to inform you of the demographics, likes and dislikes of your audience – how can you leverage such insight for your content? Targeted and programmatic ads are now the norm (e.g. search for vacuum cleaners on Google and up pop Hoover ads next time you’re on Facebook) – turning that insight into tailored content can be the next step.

You might expect the marketing heft of IKEA to come up with inspired content. But if a new band outthinks the world’s marketing brains – and gets me off my sofa – you know the gauntlet’s been thrown down.

[Image: IKEA]

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