TechBytes with Tom Rassweiler, VP, Content Reinvention, Arkadium

Tom Rassweiler

Tom Rassweiler
VP, Content Reinvention,  Arkadium

The State of Content Marketing in 2018 revolves around real-time personalization and customer experiences. Content marketers are increasingly deploying strategies to build, distribute and repurpose interactive content that delivers engagement, traffic, and revenue, in addition to sustained brand visibility, across all marketing channels. Picking the right content marketing technologies can help identify traffic-boosting interactive content that keeps the audience on your site longer. To understand the core tenets of content marketing at Arkadium, we spoke to their VP, Content Reinvention, Tom Rassweiler.

Tell us about your role at Arkadium and the team you handle.

I’ve been with Arkadium for 14 years and run a ~20 person product development team that includes developers, designers and QA. We develop games and interactive content for consumers, publishers, and brands.

Explain to us “Content Reinvention”? How effective is it to recycle content, especially from B2B point-of-view?

Our team is developing new interactive content types all the time.  Our title of “re-invention” is aspirational. We are always trying to discover new engaging experiences for our users and partners that have never been done before.  At the same time, we are also looking for ways to evolve existing successful content types for new purposes and partners. The simplest example of re-using content is re-skinned games for new brands or partners. This is a good value because we know that the underlying game is engaging, but with new art, the game is able to match the needs of the partner. Interactive data visualizations can also be re-used based on the same strategy. We find a visualization and interaction mechanic that is fun and useful for end users, then we can update the visuals to match a brand, or change the data-back-end to tell a different data story. Re-use doesn’t remove the need to keep inventing and trying new things, it just allows us to multiply the value and returns from each successful piece of content we discover.

Also Read:  If A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words, Then Visual, Interactive Content Is Priceless

What technologies are you looking at for producing cutting-edge content in 2018? Tell us about the core tenets of your content calendar or how you manage so much in real-time.

We have always focused primarily on a web and mobile-web technology stack. So, the core is some sort of javascript. However, our visualization engines are always changing because the space is moving very fast. We have been using WebGL and Pixi for the last year or so and have built some impressive templates for rapidly developing and releasing responsive interactives and games, but we’re actually starting to experiment with Adobe Animate for development of html5 content as well. Adobe has been steadily improving their tools since the death of Flash and we have seen some promising recent tests. This technology could empower our designers to do a lot more of the work without developer intermediation.

Managing the content calendar is challenging. We have a lot more ideas and opportunities than we have time, so the challenge is prioritization. Making great engaging content is not a conveyer-belt production process. It takes active engagement and creativity from everyone on the team throughout the process, as well as feedback from many different perspectives. We’ve found that having small teams focused on different content in simultaneous parallel is quite efficient. We’ve also invested in building our own higher-level frameworks so we can consistently create new content from a strong foundational base

What are the biggest challenges to creating great content experience on mobile?

There are a lot of challenges. Smaller visual dimensions for one we need to think about UI and UX from a mobile-first perspective to avoid getting derailed later in development. Load-speed on modern publisher web-pages is another challenge, primarily because of the large variety and density of network calls every page makes.  This can compound on mobile so we need to be very careful about both the size of the content and the number of calls we make before we can load. But we also see an upside.  Touch is a wonderful interaction mechanic so it opens a lot of opportunities. Also, mobile pages tend to be less visually cluttered so our content stands out and can get a lot of clicks and engagement.

How do you see interactive content market evolve with new-age guidelines for brand safety, transparency and data privacy?

I think that interactive content is going to continue to be an important and growing medium. Younger generations are growing up in a world where everything is interactive and if it’s not, it feels broken. So, I don’t think that’s going to change, but the new growth in brand safety, transparency and data privacy is going to shift the focus of the market shift towards premium methods for content delivery. Content needs to be contextually targeted, relevant and helpful to the users. Products like InHabit, which we released last year, are going to help with that because they use dynamic page analytics and machine learning to ensure the interactive data visualizations (we call them factives) it delivers fit natively in the article or information on the page. Users will appreciate and enjoy the content, brands will know that they are being served in the correct place, and we don’t need cookies to stalk specific users.

What are your thoughts on video marketing playing a bigger role in turning strangers to loyal customers?

We don’t work in video marketing much, so I don’t have a strong opinion here. Our specialty is interactive content and so I have a bias towards it and tend to think that interaction drives engagement better than video-only. Industry benchmarking proves this.

Do you think it’s right time for content marketers to leverage Artificial intelligence and machine learning for better customer engagement? How do you achieve that at Arkadium?

Absolutely. As with the question about challenges of privacy and brand safety, delivery mechanics that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence can provide a ‘special-sauce’ that allows content to reach the correct audience at the correct time, in a scalable way. Arkadium’s InHabit product can ensure that a branded factive hits only the right contextual articles and users. It not only recognizes inappropriate articles or placements, but also finds the articles with the correct context and emotional tone to get the best engagement from readers on-site.

Thanks for chatting with us, Tom.
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