The Future of Content and Experience at Instrument

Written by Mike Creighton, Executive Director of Experience Innovation and Paul Welch, Executive Content Director

We have arrived at such an interesting time for brands and marketing. Brands are vying for relevancy and focused consumer attention; trends are here and gone before you refresh your feed. Rapid changes in technology are testing our ability to create, enhance and deliver work. As an organization, we need to be a conduit for what’s next in brand experience and deliver work that meets the expectations of tomorrow — not today.

To accomplish this, we’ve appointed Mike Creighton and Paul Welch to a pair of newly-created leadership roles. With vision and ingenuity, they will guide the implementation of two innovation practices that we’re putting at the center of our organization: Experience Innovation and Content Innovation. These practices will challenge creative norms and anticipate how brands can interact in more effective, interesting, and purposeful ways with their audiences. It’s an intentional step to ensure all of our offerings build upon foundational best practices while maintaining a future-forward point of view. Experience and Content Innovation will touch all of our work, keeping our clients ahead in their industries with support from craft advancements and new efficiencies.

Experience Innovation

Mike Creighton, our new Executive Director of Experience Innovation at Instrument, is a future-forward multidisciplinary thinker and maker. He nurtures a curiosity-driven mindset for our teams and clients, inspiring them to embrace emerging technology — a core component of keeping innovation central to our company and our work. “It’s about going beyond what's working now and always considering what's coming next,” he says. By staying deeply rooted in what’s on the horizon and sharing his insights on what's significant, he ensures that our work, teams, and clients remain at the forefront of change.

Experience Innovation is the discipline that weaves emerging technologies through all of our offerings, making sure that our clients stay ahead in this evolving landscape. Brands are ecosystems which interact with people millions of times every day: emerging technology reveals new opportunities for brands to engage with consumers by creating new experiences on nascent channels, media, and capabilities. It’s at the core of our belief that brand = experience and experience = brand.

We’ve designed these new innovation practices to intentionally introduce a catalytic friction that spurs our teams to create novel work and collaborate in dynamic, ever-evolving ways.

Mike CreightonExecutive Director of Experience Innovation, Instrument

AI, web3, the metaverse, gaming, XR — they all represent potential opportunities. To navigate them and find what's right for our clients, we avoid riding hype cycles. We encourage clients to experiment, starting from hypotheses backed by research and vetting the final output with testing. We make certain that “yes” is the answer to these three questions: Is it appropriate for the brand? Does it provide value to the consumer? Is it a growth opportunity for the company?

A mobile app we recently delivered is a noteworthy example of this vision. The app’s goal was to create a highly personalized, non-intrusive health experience. Since our work incorporated both generative conversational AI and computer vision, the recommendations we made included safety concerns as well as technical capabilities. This is part of our holistic approach when considering generative AI in consumer-facing experiences.

Mike Creighton . . . says that after looking at how these tools can help with various administrative duties, the biggest unlock in how [Instrument thinks] about AI isn’t how it can be used directly to create new work, but how it can help in the existing creative process.

“How AI could power advertising’s next creative revolution”
Chat bubbles, code and multicolor circles representing things like: 1Password, Smartsheet, Jira, Okta, etc.

In collaboration with Instrument’s strategy discipline, in an afternoon, we prototyped a tool that analyzed color palettes of hundreds of websites, bringing new data-driven insights and sparing teams from hours of arduous tasks and research.

But the knowledge and application of emerging technologies aren’t limited to our client services offerings. They’re components of how we surface innovation within our business.

Emerging technologies afford us the ability to think about how we operate our business in new ways. They can reveal opportunities for efficiencies in areas like communication, collaboration, and process. The release of the powerful GPT-4 model from OpenAI is a great example of this. Its capabilities were a forcing function for us to begin closer examination of all our workflows. We immediately spotted ways in which we could leverage this technology to streamline aspects of our new business process, the creation of case studies, and how we cast our projects. So we began prototyping our hypotheses. Ultimately, we want to maximize the time our employees spend doing the work they’re passionate about and excel at.

Content Innovation

Paul Welch is our Executive Director of Content. He’s been appointed to imagine and design the content production business of the future. “The industry is on the cusp of fundamental change. The very feel and form of content is changing so fast across platforms and channels that brands need help keeping pace. If we pair these new forms with the technology that's changing how we prepare, execute and deliver our work, it's a really exciting time for the industry.”

As a creative producer with a strategic business mindset, Paul’s job is to infuse new methods and ideas into how we produce content. “At Instrument, we always try to be one step ahead, and what we’re launching now is something we’ve prototyped and tested for quite a while: a content production agency that’s born out of digital behaviors. As Mike pointed out above, brands have a massive ecosystem to fill at a speed that’s difficult to sustain, but their teams and budgets are often still operating in a traditional commercial model. We are the solution to this.”

Content innovation is about building new methods and different approaches to creating the most authentic and impactful stories. At Instrument, we have the opportunity to build both the platforms and the content that makes them stand out. We have the ability to shorten the line of communication between the team concepting an idea and the team executing it, ultimately allowing us to move fast and be more efficient in the work.

A key example is Nike. We’ve been partners for over a decade, and we know how delivering content and experiences at speed and scale is essential to inspiring their audiences and driving both loyalty and conversion.

We utilize the Nike digital ecosystem to power always-on content offenses that facilitate daily engagement with consumers — maximizing consumer lifetime value by improving retention, deepening brand loyalty, and increasing conversion.

At the beginning of the pandemic, this meant shifting an entire content engine to remote production. And when things started to open up, this model turned out to be perfect for experimenting with a range of fidelity content to match channel-specific briefs, including working directly with content creators vs full production teams.

We had to eliminate blocks in communication between creative and execution. The creative and strategy teams needed to be able to communicate directly with content creators, and the creators needed to achieve a very delicate interplay between brand and platform-right content.

On Production with Nike. We capture a range of fidelity content, all pre-planned to make the most channel-right assets.

Centralizing Experience and Content Innovation Within the Org

  1. Centralized innovation can unlock progress in a few key ways:
    Leveraging technology: Innovation can involve using new tools, platforms and processes. By seeding tools and technology across client teams, we can stay ahead of the curve and produce cutting-edge work.
  2. Enhancing collaboration: Innovation can bring people together from different backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets. This diversity can enrich the creative process and lead to more innovative and effective solutions.
  3. Encouraging experimentation: Innovation often involves taking risks and trying out new ideas. By embracing experimentation, we can explore different directions and uncover unexpected possibilities.
  4. Discovering opportunities: Innovation isn’t always obvious. Both our clients and our teammates can get stuck in tried-and-true ways of approaching problems. It’s hard to keep up with what’s on the horizon. This is where an outside perspective imposes frictions that reveal new ways of framing the problem and potential solutions.

We are excited by how our creative and innovative vision will accomplish goals more efficiently and effectively for the clients we partner with. By placing this practice at the center of our organization, we’ll ensure our clients thrive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape and are the ones to redefine the standards of their industries. Ultimately, the proof is in what we deliver, and we’re already seeing it pay off.

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