Interview with Tom Spencer, Co-Founder and Head of Services at Cognitives

Who are Cognitives and what is their position in the Australian marketing landscape?

At Cognitives our mission is to disrupt how brands think about content, and revolutionise how they can get the most out of their marketing content.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a monumental shift in the way brands communicate through storytelling. Brands no longer solely focus their marketing efforts around 3-5 high investment content pieces (such as TVC) to drive their core brand story — this focus has shifted to brands producing hundreds of pieces content spread across a multitude of channels, forming a content mosaic that defines the brand’s story. As you’d expect this change has created substantial problems for brand marketers.

Our platform enables brands and their marketing teams to create a single source of marketing truth, from which their brand storytelling can be planned, executed and most importantly, measured for ROI. Cognitives is designed to handle even the most complex of marketing structures — be it multiple brands, markets, or product lines, decentralised teams or external agencies and freelancers. With Cognitives, brands can now simplify, streamline and improve their entire marketing process, enabling them to focus on great storytelling.

We are a born and bred Australian technology company, and we are excited to be working with leading brands like the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and Monash University — showing the world that Australian brands can lead globally through content.

To ensure our customers succeed with content, we have developed our Cognitives services division. In concert with our leading Platform, our team of experts provide content strategy, development and planning services to give brands the head start they need, and ongoing hands-on support, to deliver on their strategic goals.


What do Cognitives see as some of the key challenges facing senior marketing executives within their space?

One of the biggest dilemmas facing brands right now is that whilst there are more avenues to reach your audience than ever before, it has never been more difficult to earn attention and engagement. The traditionally linear marketing process has been completely replaced with a dynamic multi-channel ecosystem powered by content.

Content has become the driving force behind audience engagement, but with the increase in multi-channel marketing, decentralised teams and global markets the operational ability for brands to manage this level of marketing complexity is being stretched to the limit.

Simply put, brands need better visibility and control over their entire marketing process, and the content produced by this process, to ensure their brand voice is consistent and they are connecting with the right audience at the right time.

In the past, brands have had to build complex and expensive tech stacks in an attempt to get visibility and control, in order to drive a cohesive and collaborative content strategy. With Cognitives we’ve changed that, by building a content-driven marketing platform designed to support the operational needs of today’s marketing teams.


What differentiates Cognitives from other providers?

Cognitives is a complete end-to-end solution for marketing content at scale. Our platform has been designed specifically to cope with today’s marketing complexities, providing a robust enterprise-grade solution that takes the stress out of planning, producing, distributing and measuring a brand’s marketing content.

The majority of our competitors focus on one element in the marketing process — resulting in brands needing to integrate, manage and support a complex marketing stack made up of a number of different tools. Not only does this quickly blow out budget, but it creates additional strain on a marketing team to learn, manage and troubleshoot multiple systems that are not designed to play well together.

With Cognitives we have sought to provide a holistic solution, so our clients can run their entire marketing operations from a single location. Within the Cognitives platform brands can:

Plan their entire marketing strategy. Designed to let teams and agencies collaborate and plan content across multiple markets, brands and channels. Cognitives gives marketing teams full visibility over workload, flow and scheduling for all marketing activity — connected to a centralised asset manager to streamline the deployment of approved brand assets across all marketing activities.

Create compelling content. Content can be easily sourced or created directed directly in platform, including social content, blogs, articles and videos. Curate relevant user-generated content from #hashtags, handles and other online communities, or empower customers to create unique content in-platform. Extensive approval chains and workflows make adhering to brand guidelines and regulatory requirements easy.

Distribute content everywhere. With our custom CMS, launching content-rich landing pages, micro-sites and content hubs is easy. Content can be distributed to multiple social channels, campaign sites or external sites — all from a single location. Brands can also localise and schedule content distribution to ensure it’s reaching their audience in the right place, at the right time.

Understand content performance. Our bespoke analytics engine focuses on real audience engagement, ensuring brands are seeing the right metrics from which they can iterate and improve their marketing strategy.

Whilst the Cognitives platform includes all of the features brands need to run an effective content-driven marketing strategy, we have made sure our platform plays well with others — our API enables brands to seamlessly integrate the Cognitives platform with any other software they use.


What does the future look like for an organisation looking to work with Cognitives?

The most impactful change we see with brands using the Cognitives platform is the ability to easily scale their content strategy, once Cognitives has removed the ever-present struggle from their marketing operations.

Whether it’s building a decentralised marketing team around the globe, adding new brands, or launching a new content hub, these changes become easy to implement once all content is driven by the Cognitives platform. The ability for marketing teams to easily try new marketing channels, or launch a content-driven campaign in minutes gives brands the flexibility and speed they need to develop a strong and loyal audience.

In addition to the benefits provided by the platform, our clients have seen great success working closely with our services team, establishing effective content strategies and implementing production processes that enable them to produce high quality and engaging content at scale.


What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market in 2018?

The biggest trend we predict for 2018 is the increase in content-centric marketing. Until recently ‘content marketing’ has been viewed as a singular marketing channel within the broader marketing mix, but big global brands like Virgin and Morgan Stanley are now putting content at the centre of all marketing activities, to the extent that they are now leading with content ahead of their traditional brand marketing.

With the average adult consuming up to 10 hours of content a day (with millennials it’s up to 18 hours a day) this content-centric approach, combined with multi-channel marketing, is becoming a necessity for brands to continue driving audience engagement and capture attention.

In effect, content has become the new brand marketing, and where brands once outsourced a majority of their content production through their agency, the increase in the importance of content in a brand’s marketing arsenal (and the ever-increasing opaqueness of the agency model) is seeing brands move content creation in-house or develop their own decentralised content production teams.

As brand safety is so critical in today’s digital landscape we expect this trend to increase in 2018, with brands implementing stricter guidelines on content creation — with a stronger focus on creating quality content crafted for a specific target audience and a consistent brand voice.

About the author
Tom Spencer is Co-Founder and Head of Services at Cognitives. Prior to founding Cognitives, Tom spent most of his career in the marketing industry involved in strategy, communications and digital media. Tom is fascinated by ideas, and enjoys applying intellectual rigour and creative thinking to brand, business and media challenges. He lectures at Monash University on Media Innovation and Entrepreneurial Journalism and lives in Melbourne with his young family.

About Cognitives
We believe ‘All marketing is content’ and exists to serve large enterprises realigning their marketing teams efforts to this new reality. Integrated marketing needs great content and great content management. It requires organisations to breach the silos in their business and have different teams working together to achieve a unified outcome and brand voice. It requires a brands content assets to be shared easily across teams, channels, markets and regions. It requires the ability for brands to distribute these assets to any channel, site or campaign.


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