“Common sense is not common action.”Read More
BC’s tech scene has had another stellar year in 2018. With Vancouver hosting the top startup ecosystem in Canada and 15th globally, the province saw its total tech revenue increase by 12% for a second year in a row, making up 7% of its total economy. Learning academies and incubators such as BrainStation, RED Academy, Lighthouse Labs, and Launch Academy continue to foster strong communities within Vancouver’s buzzing tech scene. 12 BC startups ranked in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, which recognizes the fastest-growing tech businesses in North America. At the top of the list of locals was Bench Accounting at #28, a small business accounting company that has seen 4,373% revenue growth over the past four years!
As a result of the province’s growing success and industry strength, it’s not surprising that more tech giants are doubling down on Vancouver and expanding their presence within the city. Here are 6 companies you may have heard of that are pursuing larger opportunities on the west coast:
Nearest Skytrain Station: Stadium-Chinatown
Already employing over 1,000 researchers and engineers in Vancouver, e-commerce behemoth Amazon announced plans to bring 3,000 more jobs to the city on April by building a new HQ downtown. Situated at the old Canada Post building at 343 Georgia Street, this will be the company’s third office in Vancouver - it’s currently occupying a space at TELUS Garden, and announced plans last year to open another office on Dunsmuir St. that will be ready for 2020.
Nearest Skytrain Station: Waterfront
The international credit card company will be leasing 40,000 square feet in The Exchange building at 475 Howe St. Alongside Mastercard will be Smythe LLP, fintech company Hyperwallet, Amazon, and an 11-floor hotel.
Nearest Skytrain Station: Granville
Located across TELUS Gardens, the under-construction 400 Georgia Street will be home to Apple’s new corporate office in 2020. The iPhone maker will be leasing 60,000 square feet in an eye-catching building consisting of many dislodged cubes. Apple is also rumoured to be looking for a space to a flagship store downtown.
Nearest Skytrain Station: Waterfront
Facebook moved offices this year to accommodate its growing company operations, switching from its 20,000 square feet Coal Harbour office that opened in 2013 to a 36,000 square feet space in the Waterfront Centre. You’ll likely know it as the tall PwC building overlooking Canada Place!
Nearest Skytrain Station: Yaletown-Roundhouse
As the largest software employer in BC, SAP is a local talent developer and mainstay of BC’s young talent in tech, with a rotating internship program helping 175 students gain experience with the company. In October, the company completed phase two of a $22 million expansion project adding 70,000 square feet in office space and 300 desks.
"We stand side by side with Premier Horgan and his government with common goals to solidify B.C. as a high-tech powerhouse," says Managing Director Kirsten Sutton.
Nearest Skytrain Station: VCC-Clark
Already having a presence in South Burnaby, Samsung has announced plans to open a 20,000 square feet in False Creek Flats, nearby Emily Carr University. With the building currently in development, it will be joining co-working company Spaces, gaming studio Blackbird Interactive, and machinery distributor Finning International as co-tenants of the building near downtown Vancouver. Speaking of Spaces…
Coworking Companies - WeWork and Spaces
In addition to False Creek Flats, co-working company Spaces opened its first location in Gastown, taking up five floors (35,000 square feet) at 151 West Hastings St. to serve 800-1,000 people. It has also signed a lease to take over the Tom Lee Music Building on Granville St, rounding up its current Vancouver plans to 3 locations. Likewise, co-working space competitor WeWork opened up its third location in Vancouver in September at Grant Thornton Place, with 3,800 desks in total to serve the city’s market.
Several factors within Vancouver have allowed a co-working storm to brew:
Office space is a competitive market. A 2018 Avison Young report shows that office vacancy rates downtown have dropped down for 10% in 2016 to 5% two years later, and it’s rapidly approaching a 2009 low of 2.5%.
A rise in growing startups and tech companies in the city are not looking to utilize capital to build a permanent office, as their continued growth means they cannot determine how much space they will need in the near future.
Traditional office spaces can be isolating and disconnected from the larger community - there is a growing demand for work spaces that can expand networks and build relationships outside of one’s company.
The rise of co-working provides entrepreneurs and small businesses the flexibility and convenience they need to serve and expand their team in the crowded Vancouver commercial real estate market.
Looks like there’s room for one more e-commerce giant in town. Chinese conglomerate Alibaba announced plans earlier in the year to open an office in Vancouver that will employ up to 30 people in the next 2-3 years. This is a promising development for Canadian businesses who want to access connections to Chinese manufacturing and supply partners - Alibaba is the face of the market there - while allowing the company to better serve its North American partners.
Seven seconds or less
This mantra powered NBA team Phoenix Suns’ fast-paced offensive strategy to push the ball and get a shot within seven seconds, led by former coach Mike D’Antoni. It dominated the league for a brief time from 2004 to 2008, but it looks like the philosophy has found a new home in 2018 within digital marketing to deliver messages to consumers.
Modern research has come to a collective conclusion that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter — Microsoft even claims that we are now no better than goldfish at paying attention. 8 seconds before we get distracted in 2018 compared to 12 before 2000, to be exact. Nowadays, before you watch that ASMR video on YouTube, you might experience a 6-second bumper ad that’s gone before you even notice it. They’re unskippable, but anyone can spare a few seconds, right? You might even wonder how much an ad is capable of doing in that time.
It turns out that seven seconds or less is in fact working for brands when it comes to driving brand awareness and ad recall. On average, Google found that 70% of brands experienced a lift in awareness, with an average lift of 9%, and a 30% increase in recall with its bumper ads. You don’t need that much time to get the word out there.
Is the future of digital marketing a flash on the screen?
In YouTube’s eyes, more likely than not. It introduced bumper ads in early 2017 with the intention of promoting the format heavily moving forward, while leaving 15 and 20 second formats alive and phasing out unskippable 30 second ads for good (thank God). In the crowded attention economy, this was likely a necessary change for the platform to remain competitive against others looking to take away traffic (e.g. Facebook).
But not so fast. Despite our attention spans becoming shorter, it turns out that the ability to consume long-form content is still within us. When speaking to Laura Henderson, SVP Marketing of BuzzFeed, for my third-year digital marketing class project, she remarked that behaviour on digital is more akin to TV than what marketers have originally thought. This presents an opportunity for brands to have more freedom to express their message and still trust that people will follow their stories, if done correctly.
The definition of long-form content marketing is unclear across the industry, but in the written form, 1,200 to 2,000 words is the common understanding among experts. That number has recently been climbing toward 10,000. It’s also definitely longer than a 30-second TV ad.
“People assume that content must be short for people to watch it, but we’ve seen an interesting spike in traffic around long-form as well. Our show Worth It is the #1 show on YouTube and generates audiences that rival TV… 75% of its traffic [is] within the first three days of episodes being released, Henderson says. At five seasons and 48 episodes, the average Worth It video is at least 12–16 minutes long, and receives at least 10 million views. In 2018, people watched 1.5 billion minutes of the show’s engaging cast trying similar foods at three different price points, equating to over 90 to 125 million views in a year. More significantly, this counters the common misconception that content must be increasingly shorter for people to watch or read it.
Of course, there is no disregarding the fact readers will likely finish a shorter piece of content more often than a longer one. Marketers have adapted to shorter attention spans with snack-sized videos and articles, with the latter being 350–600 words on average. However, that doesn’t mean that they receive the best quality out of it. With Google as the powerful gatekeeper between the audience and the brand, efficiency has been prioritized rather than creativity. Keywords and SEO became top of mind, but what happened to the story?
As a result of the internet saturated with keyword-heavy content, this has provided an opportunity for value-heavy content to shine through. The research is widely in favour of longer content, not shorter. Longer content is more viral — on average, BuzzSumo found that longer content receives 70% more shares than its bite-sized counterparts. It is not a detriment to SEO either, with research finding that most top results for search queries are over 2,000 words in length.
Telling a story
But when it comes down to it, long-form ultimately has more storytelling potential and power to engage an audience.
Long-form is marketing is what allows fintech startup Wealthsimple to share the complex money stories of celebrities like French Montana and Kim Kardashian in their Money Diaries series. Described by the company as a series of “interesting people telling their financial life stories in their own words,” the stories help spread the idea that money is a universal topic with everyone sharing a unique relationship with it. They humanize the celebrities as well - Aubrey Plaza lived on peanut butter (now that she’s wealthy, it’s almond butter). Andre Iguodala made a dollar stretch by buying no-name brands before the NBA. And so on.
In contrast to a shorter medium, Wealthsimple’s call-to-action within the post is to simply ask the reader to “Learn More” about how it makes investing simple, and to sign up for more stories. The strategy behind Money Diaries is to start building a sticky, long-term relationship with the viewers - the campaign is catching on to other companies as well. Freshii’s f(ood) diaries invites influencers like Amanda Cerny to talk about her relationship with food, and her approach to leading a balanced life. Bench Accounting keeps it on brand with its Small Business Stories - in one post, the accounting startup invites Lululemon founder Chip Wilson to share his story of entrepreneurship (though I’m not sure about Lululemon being small).
As thought leaders in SEO, B2B SaaS company Moz has leveraged long-form content to deliver weekly digital marketing lessons with Whiteboard Friday. Through 5-minute (or longer) videos and their accompanying blog posts, Moz breaks down the barriers surrounding the complex world of search engines and what they’re looking for within content to rank results appropriately, and making the industry transparent for beginners to experts looking to refresh their knowledge. The average Whiteboard Friday receives 15,000 to 20,000 views, which Velocity Partners calls “bodacious” in the B2B world in their analysis on the series. And what’s the next step for aspiring SEOs after they become part of the Moz community? Paying for the company’s software to help them do their job better.
In short, it’s the ability to engage people, leave a stronger message behind, and build the foundation for a lasting relationship with your audience that long-form content marketing makes its mark. It’s a lot harder to do the same with seven seconds or less.