If you think adaptive content is just some SEO trend you can wait out, you’re already behind. Learn why it’s here to stay and what you need to do to catch up.
We get it. Everyone is wary of the new kid on the block. He dresses weird and he brings those funky power bars to lunch, plus he smells like a mixture of grape juice and wheat grass. Those first few days on the playground, everyone is just waiting to see which way he swings — is he going to get with the in-crowd or become socially doomed as the last pick for dodgeball teams? Really, it could go either way. Even the hall monitors hold their breaths in suspense.
In strolls adaptive content, with social charm to beat, the robust skills to hit the ball out of the park and the smarts to ace all the exams on first try. So what does adaptive content have that’s so unique? It’s not specialized for only one type of performance.
We’re here to suggest that adaptive content is here to stay, and the sooner content developers get on the bandwagon, the better. Here’s a closer look at why.
What the Heck Is Adaptive Content Anyway?
The concept of adaptation as a survival skill is nothing new. Often, part of the reason why animals make the endangered list is because they’re unable to adapt to changes quickly enough (usually, we’re that change). They’re highly specialized, can only live in very specific environments and are reliant on a few, key nutritional resources. The panda’s a good example of a specialized animal struggling to cope with human encroachment on its environment. Now let’s take a species so similar that it was thought for a long time to be directly related to the panda, the raccoon. These guys are so adaptive that they can live pretty much anywhere and eat pretty much anything. Everybody loves pandas, but the raccoon’s ability to adapt has made more successful.
If you think about content in the same way, it’s easy to see that we’ve been pigeon-holing our content. We create content specifically for websites that doesn’t function on mobile apps, as email content, in blog posts or on social media. Or we create content specifically for print that doesn’t automatically adapt to use on technological platforms.
Developing specialized content made sense when all we had was print and the Web. But the world is mobile now, which means that the nature of content needs to evolve.
Karen McGrane’s presentation, Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content, provides a detailed breakdown of why device-optimization is unsustainable in the mobile world and why crafting reusable content is the new frontier. In the words of NPR as abbreviated in their philosophy slogan, COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere.
But That’s Not All
Adaptive content isn’t only about adapting to different channels. It’s also about enhancing a user’s personal experience.
Adaptive content can seamlessly personalize the user experience for their individual context, current environment and needs.
Simply put, adaptive content means consumer-oriented content rather than device- or product-oriented content. Content creators must shift their thinking away from creating content for the Web, with the intent of converting it to other channels. Instead, content is created with the intention of adapting to a user’s context.
For a real life example of what this could mean, Noz Urbina from Content Marketing Institute™ wrote of a wine-tasting experience where tablets were placed at each seat. While the user experience remained disappointingly static, the opportunities for personalization were endless:
- Online check-in
- Personalized welcome screen
- Real-time rating system for each wine tasted
- End reminder of highest rated wines of both himself and his partner, shifting into purchasing options for wines currently in stock
- Option to purchase with a tablet and merge the tablet bill with the winery bill at check out
According to a survey by Econsultancy and Monetate, 94 percent of businesses claim that personalization is ‘critical to current and future successes.’
Moreover, cross-channel integration can enhance the user’s personal experience. A LuxuryDaily report states that 33 percent of U.S. shoppers research a product on a smartphone before purchasing on a PC. By integrating these channels, users can enjoy an optimized shopping experience in which their research history is recognized, regardless of the device they used.
So What Have We Learned Today?
Basically, that adaptive content is a beast of a term that refers to pretty much everything businesses should be leveraging now. Static content and advertising is becoming decidedly outdated. With the current technological infrastructure in place, it makes sense to take advantage of integration and personalization to get the most out of your content and develop stronger consumer relationships.
So be like a raccoon. Adapt.
How could your content be optimized for better a wider range of devices and contexts? Will you adapt your content in 2015?
Share your thoughts on adaptive content in the comments!