User generated content in advertising and video marketing: Coffee break 10-02-17

User generated content in advertising and video marketing: Coffee break 10-02-17

Happy Friday! This week’s coffee break covers why Airbnb is shifting their marketing approach to focus on user generated content, and why video is essential in engaging and converting customers.


Sian, Creative Strategist

Content is Airbnb’s advertising, and advertising is their content

I often use Airbnb as a way to explain the importance of having a great brand before trying to have great branding. It’s not just because it’s an excellent example of a great brand with great branding, but because up until a few years ago, it was a great brand, with dreadful branding.

The brand–meaning everything Airbnb did and stood for–was, and is still brilliant. It was well timed and reflective of what consumers were shifting towards; experience over materiality and the whole sharing economy idea. The visual element of the branding, which is there to bring this idea to life, however, can be summed up by this:

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More ice-cream than travel experiences

Instead of being a vehicle to communicate and solidify the brand, the branding was actually jarring against everything we believed this company to be. Not good. But, in an increasingly brand conscious world, the other way around would be worse and much harder to fix.

Since then, they’ve cleaned up their act with some of the most detailed and well thought out branding guidelines I’ve seen (thinking of getting an Airbnb tattoo? Yep, there’s a guide for that).

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Design, whether that’s looking at how something can best communicate the brands essence, –visually or otherwise–or how we facilitate how someone interacts with the brand, has become an increasingly central focus for the brand, with the company even sharing design tools like Lottie a few weeks ago. And Airbnb is once again going through an interesting shift in how they market themselves and how they use design.

Looking to become an end to end travel company they’ve launched Trips, a service consisting of experiences, places and homes, flights and services. This seems like the logical next step in further pursuing the idea the brand was built on–experience first with accommodation being the facilitator.

The marketing for this is focused on user generated content with design being used as a tool to create ‘content fingerprints’. Focusing on providing experiences means those who provide the experiences need to be able to communicate what differentiates them in what they’re offering–what makes their experience an experience. Airbnb designers are therefore directly helping hosts create movie style posters and videos, specific to them. This is an interesting looped approach in how Airbnb markets its brand–Airbnb’s product becomes marketing, whist all the marketing comes from the product.


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Chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall sums up the approach: “We really want to be the first brand and the first product that designs content so compelling and so clear that we can use that in paid advertising, and we want our paid advertising to be so compelling that it actually becomes content.”


Candice, Managing Director

Why video marketing is the new black!

Video has become essential for marketing a business to connect with consumers, engage with them and convert them into paying customers.

HighQ created an interesting infographic on the impact video will have in 2017, and shows why businesses should include video marketing into their strategies as a key content marketing channel.


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According to Cisco, 79% of Internet traffic in 2020 will be video. If that has you thinking of all the possibilities, here are a few more to think about. Live video streaming is increasing in popularity with live video applications such as Facebook Live and Periscope. Whether you are a small business or a bigger corporate, live video marketing allows you to humanise your brand and helps to shrink the distance between yourself and your customers. Live video is also the gateway to evolving technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

Consumers want to feel that they can trust your brand, that you are a resource for them and that you understand them. They don’t want to be sold to, but rather want to engage and have a conversation with you. Businesses need to invest in building a relationship with their target audience and their clients through trust and transparency, and video is a great way to do just that.


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