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Content marketing: Just another name for storytelling?

Content marketing is soon becoming one of the most abused words in the plethora of technology led marketing solutions, partly because of the over usage of the terminology and partly because of the confusion on what content marketing really means. For MediaLink, content marketing is essentially just storytelling in a media world that operating at the speed of the (social) feed.

Stephanie Naegeli

Stephanie Naegeli, Nestlé

Bringing the subject under discussion at the ongoing dmexco in Cologne, stakeholders from the domain discussed how content marketing does not replace advertising. According to Stephanie Naegeli, Digital Innovation Manager & Founder of Nestlé’s Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost, while content marketing is a narrative infused in the core essence of the brand, it puts the consumer at the centre. “It is about keeping a tab on how consumer behaviour is influenced by technology and what that means for brands. Consumers are more engaged with content, as long as you are getting it right,” she explained.

David Hayes, Tumblr

David Hayes, Tumblr

Some platforms are better suited for storytelling than others. For a while now, Tumblr has owned that space and even though there are discussions on whether Tumblr has continued to grow its niche amongst the connected and socially active audience, David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy, Entertainment Evangelist, Tumblr, reminds that the platform has one of the ‘older’ social audiences that is diverse and is “trained to appreciate the whole range of creative assets. “We have recently entered a deal with Nescafé where all Nescafé websites will be on Tumblr. The idea is to give each of the Nescafé brands their own socially capable platform,” he elaborated.

Creating value for consumers
Yaron Galai, Outbrain“Advertising created significant value for marketers but my own experience was that it had not done so for consumers necessarily. When we were launching Outbrain, the idea was to get the brand to benefit from merging technology and science and what each could contribute for better engaging the consumer – much of this is understanding what data shows,” reflected Yaron Galai, CEO & Co-Founder, Outbrain.

Bob Lord, AOL

Bob Lord, AOL

The opportunity ahead, according to industry gurus, is creating the brand story without using data, and mobile is growing to be an important medium in that. “Mobile not only understands the content but also the context that the consumer is in. The more content they consume, the more light content can be served to them. It is a wonderful combination of creating a great experience and getting rich information,” observed Bob Lord, President, AOL.

Jonathan Nelson, Omnicom

Jonathan Nelson, Omnicom

Omnicom Digital’s CEO, Jonathan Nelson, pointed out that a big part of the opportunity ahead was to create communication messaging in real time. “Connecting through storytelling is listening to what is happening around us. When we bring social input, videos, offline inputs altogether and look for the patterns that are trending, and use data and visualisation tools that are in line with content, we are able to utilise what data has to offer to create solutions, where brands are responding to consumers in real time.”

Overcoming hurdles of the mind
The new opportunities are creating the need for new structures in marketing and also for new kinds of skillsets. Mr Lord pointed out that the need of the hour was someone who understands how to tell a story but also technology. “If you go down the old way of telling the story without knowing what the likes of Facebook, Tumblr and so on are doing, it would be like colouring black and white. But the challenge is to get someone who understands the whole breadth of technology,” he said.

If talent is one challenge, according to Mr Galai, the other significant challenge is about attribution. “There are not too many tech hurdles for content marketing at scale. There is some concern on how do we better gauge what is leading to the final purchase decision because some of this content is very up the consumption chain but it leaves a lasting impact on the consumer’s mind – measuring that is difficult,” he said.

The panellists reiterated that content marketing had enough ammunition to bring benefits to brands – the only hurdle in exploring it further, was at best in the mind.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.