Brands need to deliver authentic content to skeptical, overwhelmed consumers: study

LOS ANGELES – The news was likely not surprising to the 7,000 creative professionals gathered here for the annual Adobe MAX conference: as people are increasingly inundated with content across multiple screens, they’re increasingly skeptical of the content they’re consuming and, if you want their attention, it had better be entertaining.

Adobe surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers for its report The State of Content: Expectations on the Rise. It found that consumer demands around digital content are rising. They’re developing a healthy skepticism about claims and statements made, and to connect, marketers and content creators will need to stress both authenticity and accuracy as well as entertainment.

The average consumer today accesses 12 different sources of content through six different devices daily. Millennials were most likely to access content with their smartphone, while for other demographics a laptop or desktop was preferred. But few restricted themselves to just one device – 88 report they multiscreen by using three or more devices simultaneously; and, needless to say, 40 per cent found the information deluge distracting.

As consumers try to drink from the information firehose, they’re making choices about how they choose to consume information. With only 15 minutes to consume content, 59 per cent would rather skim articles on trends than read a long article on one issue, and 66 per cent would rather watch a video on breaking news than read an article on breaking news.


If marketers are going to break through, while accuracy is still paramount, entertainment is necessary to reach younger consumers. While 75 per cent said accuracy was more important to then than entertainment, 35 per cent of millennials put entertainment first, compared to just 10 per cent of baby boomers. And 58 per cent of millennials don’t check the accuracy of information before they share it – such as all those fake Facebook privacy warnings.

As a designer of software for creative professionals, Adobe also highlighted the importance respondents put on quality of design. With just 15 minutes to view content, 66 per cent said they prefer something beautifully designed than something simple and plain, including 73 per cent of millennials. That goes for content consumed in both their persona and work lives.

“The message from consumers is clear: the bar is higher for content creators than it has ever been,” said Bryan Lamkin, senior vice-president and general manager for digital media with Adobe. “People are overwhelmed by an ever-increasing volume of media and apps. Creatives and brands need to focus even more on great design to maximize the impact of their experiences.”

Lamkin told Adobe MAX attendees that the vendor sees see trends driving the changing work of a creative professionals: the increasing importance of design, the evolution of a multi-screen world, and consumer demand for an ever-more personalized experience.

“What keeps the creative professional up at night? Being asked to crank out more creative content faster than ever,” said Lamkin. “At Adobe we call this content velocity, and it keeps getting faster.”

In part, Lamkin said that’s why Adobe made the controversial decision to launch Creative Cloud and go entirely to a cloud-based, subscription software model.

“Tools needs to intuitively know who you are and what you’re trying to do, and have your workflows you way,” said Lamkin. “You need to be able where and how you want.”

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told journalists that the weight of maintaining both a perpetual license model and Creative Cloud would not have allowed the vendor to release the waves of innovations it has brought to market.

“We have to leave the past behind,” said Narayen. “(CC) allows us to innovate at a faster pace. We’ve set a standard for what all software companies are looking at – a move to the cloud to fuel perpetual innovation.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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