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The creative production industry has witnessed a remarkable transformation in recent years, driven by technological advancements, shifts in consumer behaviour, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As marketers navigate this ever-evolving landscape, understanding the latest trends and adopting innovative strategies becomes crucial to staying competitive.

We took a look at APR’s whitepaper on Creative Production Trends for 2023 to discover the key findings in their report.

Broadcast TV is Down

Global video production shoot days hit a historic low in 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions brought the industry to a standstill. However, there was a remarkable rebound in 2021 as countries gradually emerged from the grips of the pandemic. 

Even with this rebound, recent data from APR reveals a worrisome trend in the United States, where shoot days have declined by a staggering 16% compared to the previous year. 

The state of California, in particular, has witnessed a significant loss of shoot days as production tax incentives lure filmmakers to other states. 

The report highlights a decline in large-scale TV productions, while marketers are ramping up their efforts to deliver content across various channels. 

To seize the moment, experts emphasize the importance of devising a comprehensive Total Video Strategy, analyzing and harnessing production data to maximize efficiency across all platforms.

Adding to the evolving landscape, the report indicates a drop in COVID-related fees as a percentage of production costs, plummeting from 6% in 2021 to 4% in 2022, anticipating that this percentage will decrease to nearly zero in the near future.

Embrace Game Changers

AI is revolutionizing the marketing landscape by optimizing messaging and streamlining content production with the industry being upended in terms of media budgeting and spending due to AI’s disruptive influence.

Leveraging AI, programmatic ad platforms intelligently determine the most fitting messaging for optimal delivery on top-performing channels, and innovative tools like Pattern89 employ AI to experiment with creative concepts and accurately forecast their performance levels. 

Virtual production is also taking the industry by storm as significant investments pour in to establish virtual studios and volume stages worldwide.

The advent of LED walls and virtual backgrounds has redefined content production, and experts anticipate a subsequent reduction in production costs. 

As a result, the report strongly recommends that virtual production becomes an integral component of every brand’s overarching production strategy.

Experiential is Up

Experiential activation has been rapidly gaining popularity as businesses adapt to the easing of pandemic-related restrictions.

With a keen understanding of consumers’ yearning for genuine interactions, brands are crafting immersive experiences that resonate. 

One captivating manifestation of this trend is the “Clicks to Bricks” strategy, where digitally native brands use real-world experiential activations to increase their brand’s visibility and brand loyalty through earned media.

Another notable approach is the “Surprise & Delight” method, offering customers extraordinary and share-worthy encounters that fuel their social media feeds.

Recognizing the growing significance of experiential events, marketers are amplifying their investments, recognizing the utmost importance of meticulous planning and ensuring a favourable return on investment. 

As experiential activations continue to expand, seamlessly integrating diverse expertise, marketers are harnessing appropriate technologies to bolster their events, ensuring seamless execution and maximum impact.

Managing Influencers at Scale

In 2023, influencer marketing remains a valuable strategy for brands, with 54% of ANA member companies ramping up their investment in this area. 

Despite a 40% increase in influencer rates, leveraging influencer-generated content remains a more cost-effective option compared to the production of television commercials. 

When it comes to compensation, a flat rate is the most popular brands are using, accounting for 49% of payments, while 42% of brands have embraced affiliate marketing payments, paying influencers a percentage of sales resulting from their campaigns. 

As a result, managing multiple influencer contracts and ensuring optimal return on investment has become an increasingly intricate yet crucial task, and brands need to establish standardized processes for discovering, vetting, engaging, and compensating influencers, given the ongoing expansion of influencer marketing.

What’s Old Is New Again

Direct mail, Polaroids, and OOH billboards have made a triumphant comeback, capturing the attention of individuals who found themselves spending an increasing amount of time within the confines of their homes.

Photography has also seen a notable uptick in bids, with a 10% surge in demand as brands, recognizing the need for authenticity in their visual content, have reevaluated their approach to product photography while striving to cater to the diverse requirements of an omnichannel landscape.

However, it’s not just in the realm of photography where the past is reclaiming its prominence. 

A growing number of directors have shown a keen interest in shooting on traditional 35mm and 16mm film formats.

While this artistic pursuit evokes nostalgia and lends an air of artistic sophistication to productions, it does come at a potential cost, with the increased reliance on analogue methods potentially increasing production expenses and disrupting tightly-packed schedules.

In a bid to navigate the evolving landscape of content creation, brands are increasingly turning to the repurposing of existing assets as a cost-effective solution, with 80% of attendees at an ANA workshop reporting that they expected to incorporate this strategy into their content creation. 

This shift in approach suggests that brands are approaching their marketing efforts with a sense of caution and deliberation, balancing their exploration of novel techniques with the timeless nature of traditional methods to forge a meaningful connection with consumers.

Budget Justification

In today’s economic landscape, brands find themselves having to deliver top-notch content while operating within constricted budgets. 

Consequently, the demand for greater scrutiny and justification of production expenses has intensified, prompting agencies to work with leaner financial resources. 

This trend has given rise to a surge in in-house agencies taking charge of content creation.

While the allocation of agency fees to production spending remains significant, the focus has shifted towards the media-to-creative asset ratios, which are now a priority for determining a brand’s content investment.

To aid decision-making and enhance production practices, brands are increasingly turning to cutting-edge production data technologies like ACERO™, allowing them to make informed choices, drawing insights from past campaigns and conducting in-depth analyses to uncover opportunities for predictable outcomes and superior returns on investment.

Mind the (Talent) Gap

“The Great Resignation,” coupled with a scarcity of mentorship and deficient production training, has led to a significant talent gap in the advertising industry. 

The impact of this gap is being felt in crucial roles like Business Affairs, Marketing Operations, Agency & Line Producers, and Production Managers, and internal support for these roles is often inadequate, leaving organizations with several challenges to overcome.

One of the biggest predicaments the industry is facing is talent coordination, as finding the right individuals with the correct skills becomes increasingly difficult.

Compounding the issue are concerns related to contracting, where subpar negotiation skills and the absence of standardized rate cards impede progress, and a lack of experience in risk management and insurance exacerbates the industry’s predicament, leaving companies exposed to potential liabilities.

On the production side of things, a robust understanding of standard workflows is crucial, yet often lacking, leading to inefficiencies and subpar results; and inexperienced junior producers hamper the smooth execution of projects, undermining the industry’s overall productivity. 

To bridge this gap, the industry has to consider different solutions such as staff augmentation, mentorship programs, and comprehensive training initiatives.

While implementing these measures requires a significant investment, it’s crucial to recognize that investing in people is tantamount to investing in the success and growth of the business.

Better Governance & Guidelines

There has been a notable transition from agency-led to marketer-led production operations, bringing about an increased demand for guidelines and governance to navigate the complexities that arise when coordinating multiple agencies and production partners. 

The objective is clear: to streamline processes, foster transparency, and optimize budgeting.

The development of comprehensive guidelines and governance holds the promise of unlocking cost and process efficiencies as brands increasingly take the reins in content production. 

Without the oversight of an agency, ensuring seamless one-off payments to actors, crew members, and third-party entities becomes a challenging task. 

As a result, marketing organizations are now consolidating some of the responsibilities traditionally entrusted to agencies, such as ad distribution and talent payroll, to support scalability while enabling the collection of valuable aggregated data.

Brands are also showing an increased commitment to production guidelines and governance in alignment with their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) objectives, as well as their sustainability goals, proactively allocating funds to facilitate coordination on set, underscoring their dedication to these pressing concerns.

As the power dynamic between agencies and marketers transforms, the need for guidelines and governance has emerged as a pivotal component in driving successful production operations and responsible content creation.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the creative production industry is undergoing a significant transformation driven by technological advancements and changing consumer behaviour, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes.

Marketers must adapt to the evolving landscape by understanding the latest trends and adopting innovative strategies. 

APR’s whitepaper on Creative Production Trends for 2023 highlights several key findings.

It reveals a decline in broadcast TV production, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive Total Video Strategy. 

AI and virtual production are revolutionizing the industry, while experiential activations and influencer marketing continue to grow in importance 

It also highlighted that the resurgence of traditional methods and the need for budget justification and talent development pose challenges for the industry, and better governance and guidelines are going to be crucial as brands take on more responsibilities in content production.

Overall, navigating this dynamic industry requires a balance of new techniques and timeless methods to connect meaningfully with consumers.

Are you ready to revolutionize your creative production strategy and stay ahead of the ever-changing industry landscape?

Our unique Smartshoring® model delivers flexible and scalable access to offshore creative production talent and in-country client services teams. Giving you certainty that your content will be produced to an exceptional quality and to deadline every time – along with an average cost saving of 40%.

Contact us today to discover how we can help you deliver and exceed expectations.

Saskia Johnson

Author Saskia Johnson

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