Campaign Staff
May 21, 2024

The future engine: Embracing the opportunities and challenges ahead with an agile content engine framework

How the content engine’s holistic, agile, and flexible approach is key to future-proofing brands.

The future engine: Embracing the opportunities and challenges ahead with an agile content engine framework
Despite being less than halfway into 2024, it seems like immeasurable events have occurred, both within the marketing and communications industry and on a macro scale. It’s a potent reminder that change is always afoot and demands staying on top of trends across technology, content consumption, and the world at large, all with a view to the future.
That might sound like a tall order, but it’s one that brands can meet with the right system in place. Content engines enable brands to streamline content creation, management, and delivery efficiently across formats and touchpoints, and are, by nature, built to be adaptable. 
At its core, a content engine is a framework supported by people, processes, platforms and partners which can be tailored to an individual organisation’s needs. The most effective ones, however, are purpose-driven and goal-oriented, and transcend the classic “create, manage, deliver” directive to fulfil a variety of needs. For instance, catering to different touchpoints to craft next-gen ‘omni experiences’ and providing personalisable and engaging content that can stand the test of time, all while driving progress towards increasingly important sustainability goals.
These functions are designed with the future in mind because critically, the content engine must withstand volatility and changes like market saturation, economic headwinds, and development of tech and working culture.
But what potential developments does the future hold, and how can brands navigate them? We revisited our series with creative production agency Tag to see how a content engine might help businesses handle any challenges and opportunities that lie ahead — even those we don’t see coming. 
Rapid technological advancement
With breakthrough technologies appearing faster and in greater volume these days, forward-thinking brands should prepare for a world where the once unimaginable becomes a part of daily reality — for example, wider adoption of holograms in phygital activations, or consumers spending significant amounts of time within the metaverse. 
Done right, brands can leverage these opportunities to deliver truly cutting-edge content. In these scenarios, having a content engine framework in place can enable brands to work smarter by supporting internal talent with the skills and flexibility of specialist external partners. With all tools and talent under a unified and transparent framework, brands can deliver integrated solutions to complicated requests. 
“It allows everyone to concentrate on their deliverables, ensuring that each component contributes harmoniously to the overall content strategy,” said Carlo Victoriano, executive creative director, Singapore. “This collaborative approach enhances efficiency, creativity, and the ability to navigate diverse touchpoints with precision.” 
To streamline the process further, brands can produce or amend assets rapidly at scale by incorporating new solutions, such as automation, into their tech stack. “That gives back a huge amount of time to our teams and also savings to our clients due to fewer billable hours,” said Trent Agnew, CEO, APAC. Agnew further noted that bringing new technology into the engine enables talent to be “attuned to tech developments” and upskill themselves by “exploring and iterating.” 
Shifting consumer behaviour and trends 
Like technology, consumer behaviours and trends are always changing and developing. Consider social media. As inventions go, it’s a relatively new one, but the winds of change have already seen major platforms rise and fall. For brands, this changeability invites a degree of insecurity — what happens if established avenues suddenly disappear, despite significant investments in content customisation and influencer outreach? Or perhaps new channels spearheading different content formats start gaining popularity? 
That’s where analytical capabilities come into play. For Daniel Brodecky, managing director, an omnichannel content approach — or omni engine — should have a “core team of data analysts, data architects, CRM specialists, and CX specialists.” They can then use data and analytics, for example from a customer data platform (CDP), to anticipate trends and draw insights from evolving audience preferences.
Those insights, in turn, help shape a brand’s content strategy. Currently, that might mean leaning into highly personalised omni experiences to account for fractured consumer behaviour or investing in user-generated content to meet audience demand for authenticity. In the near future, it could mean prioritising phygital content if Apple’s Vision Pro becomes the new must-have device. Finally, the impact of these changes can be measured from a dashboard built into the content engine.
Whatever the trends of the day may be, having a consistent base process supports the creation of any kind of content — even if it’s a completely new format. With this, the journey from ideation to delivery becomes more efficient and effective, helping brands navigate changes with greater agility.
Urgent demands on the business
Pressing demands are an evergreen but no less critical issue. With rising client expectations, that will likely mean more “impossible” situations — say, delivering a complete campaign including OOH, digital, and more in 14 days, or working in an under-resourced marketing department.
While it may seem counterintuitive to bring in new partners, collaborating across markets can help drive efficiency — whether due to different time zones enabling talent to work around the clock, or lower rates. 
A clear and cohesive set of processes and platforms then helps those partners hit the ground running. For example, a built-in digital asset management (DAM) tool provides an organised way for cross-functional teams to access pre-approved assets (with all relevant information in their metadata), vastly reducing inefficiency and guesswork. This ensures brand consistency at scale, despite the challenges imposed by tough deadlines or a shrinking workforce. 
“Essentially, the content engine creates a single ecosystem which then leads to a culture of checking what information there is in an easily accessible way,” said Tamara Davenport, business transformation officer and head of channel activation, APAC.
Meanwhile, approved technology and automation solutions within the engine can significantly reduce the time spent on any number of tasks, from summarising briefs to speeding up creative concepting and ideation, image editing, and more.
However, the key to pulling off any project with a tight deadline is communication. From status updates to feedback, questions, and more, regular communication between internal and external teams is essential, especially for urgent projects. Having an agile communication platform, rather than relying on email or phone calls, enables partners across time zones to work together efficiently, giving visibility to all relevant stakeholders. 
Ultimately, evolving and innovating to drive efficiency will help brands maintain competitiveness — even when facing unprecedented and unforeseen challenges.
Bottlenecks due to too many partners and processes
Ease of collaboration is among the distinguishing features of a content engine, but it’s crucial to keep processes and partners at a sustainable level in order to avoid unnecessary complications. 
Ad creation and delivery are only getting more complex, which begs the question: how does one optimise workflow between partners and platforms while retaining the primacy of creativity? 
In Agnew’s view, the philosophy at the heart of the content engine is “aligning task to talent.” That means keeping a lean team of partners on any given project, and having “the right talent, in the right time zone, at the right price, for the right output.” Combine that model with the right tech stack, and you get visibility into every stage of creative production, meaning bottlenecks can be easily identified and resolved. 
To balance efficiency with creativity, modular content — where small blocks of content are assembled into pre-approved, pre-defined templates — can reduce holdups in regulatory sign-offs while allowing creative teams the freedom to customise other elements of the campaign. 
In today’s saturated content landscape, being able to deliver content everywhere, all at once, poses a huge advantage to brands looking to stand out. 
How to future-proof your content engine
While you can’t predict the future, you can certainly prepare for it. Circumstances, trends, and behaviours change all the time — so instead of over-optimising at the outset, it may be more efficient to start with a minimum viable product first, then iron out any issues or adopt new solutions along the way.
At the end of the day, every content engine needs people, process, platform, and partner working in tandem with each other to hum along nicely. Understanding how to complement human insight, creativity, and instinct with the correct sets of tools and processes to achieve business goals is the key to building an efficient, effective, and future-facing model. 
However, it’s important to remember that each engine is unique to the needs of each brand and their consumers; this customisability is indeed one of their biggest advantages, and what will help a well-oiled engine stand the test of time. Future-proofing your content engine is essential, but keeping it future-proofed requires regular reassessments and readjustments to meet the needs of the time.
Embracing all that the content engine framework has to offer is vital. Only then can we ensure that now and, in the future — whatever it may hold — content remains king.
Campaign Asia

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