Hillel Cooperman knows a thing or two about software. After all, he formerly directed the Windows user interface team at Microsoft.
Pause for a moment and try to picture a job that’s even roughly analogous in terms of day-to-day impact on modern-day multitudes. Home page gatekeeper at Google? Chief looker-at-the radar for the National Weather Service? Head clock winder at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England?
But we digress.
During last month’s Custom Content Conference in Miami, Cooperman spoke about what he sees as the next generation of online brand advertising: the Branded Software Experience.
Cooperman’s main point: software and content are becoming so intertwined, there’s no longer much point in drawing any distinction.
“The line between content and software is no longer relevant,” he said. “Branded software is already the new branded content. Brands will be in the software business.”
It’s worth noting that Cooperman has founded a company, Jackson Fish Market, which, as described on its Web site, ”makes beautiful consumer software for the Web.” But his remarks at the CCC were more than self-serving. They were spot on. And the point he was making extends well beyond consumers.
Indeed, a broader takeaway to be drawn from Cooperman’s comments is this: Content is more than articles. More than Web copy. More than white papers.
Content is about so much more than words.
For the record, my working definition of content (one that’s served fairly well for a few years now) is this:
Value-adding information, interactions and experiences
by which brands engage and build affinity
with the audiences vital to their business success.
Picture content as encompassing — but also going well beyond — words and articles, and suddenly all sorts of possibilities emerge for adding value and sparking engagement.
Cooperman cited as a prime example Nike+. If you haven’t seen or heard of it, Nike+ is, well, I’m not sure there’s a label for it. Yet. Let’s call it a product-software-lifestyle mashup developed expressly for a target audience. In this case, runners.
Here’s another, perhaps less sexy, but no less powerful example of content and software converging. A few years back, the firm where I work, Hanley Wood Marketing, had as a client a heavy-equipment manufacturer. This client had done extensive research on how its machines compared with competitors’ on more than 40 performance factors of relevance to buyers and end users.
Unfortunately, that data sat in a three-ring binder at headquarters. Then, one day, the client asked us if there were a way to get the data into the hands of dealers. There was. We developed a piece of custom software — a competitive-sell configurator – that empowered dealers to instantly generate detailed, side-by-side performance comparisons among competing front-end loaders, giving them a powerful new way to engage potential buyers in strategic sales conversations.
It’s these sorts of tools, not only white papers and webinars, that are defining the edge of innovation in branded content. Widgets. Generators, Configurators. Calculators that let customers, prospects or stakeholders accomplish real work, or real lifestyle fulfillment.
Where in your business is there a junction where value-adding content and software can powerfully converge? On your Web site? An in-store kiosk? In the hands of the sales force? On your employee intranet?
When you find it, and make it happen, stand back: That explosion you’re about to hear is a value-adding branded experience.
Got a favorite example of a content-software convergence that’s driving your business? Your comments and case examples are welcomed.
Photo credit: Custom Publishing Council