Content marketing is here. It’s a significant channel and one that does not follow the rules of traditional advertising nor the processes associated with traditional advertising. Being digital it also won’t stand still and will continue to innovate and evolve as consumers come to grips with it and vendors aggressively vie for their slice of revenue within this growing market. It can be learned and when done well can have significant benefits for a brand.
Content marketing is difficult to get right. It is quite often more difficult to successfully create branded content than it is a broadcast piece of advertising and requires more time to plan and execute on distribution and seeding of content than it does to broadcast a message via traditional paid channels. So, why are more and more brands trying their hand at content marketing?
Content marketing has the potential to be transformational for a brand, either to enable a brand to transcend a significant barrier to purchase or to establish a brand as the preferred choice well beyond the impact of typical advertising.
The idea that content marketing is a powerful way to impact consumers is becoming accepted wisdom thanks to advertisers like Huggies, Dove and Beats by Dre.
And content marketing due to its transformational potential is well suited as a marketing channel in a number of scenarios – significant barriers to purchase, low interest category, non-direct path to purchase, infrequent purchase behaviour, a new brand or a brand with legacy brand perception issues.
Content marketing of course is not new however due to the emergence of specialist digital content agencies and crowd-sourcing platforms clients have been able to test & learn more directly and try their hands at being a content creator. It doesn’t hurt that these creation channels often come with lower budgets and quicker timelines then traditional creation resources and this has also fueled the charge into content marketing.
As it is with content marketing, any time that a new marketing channel emerges, brands and agencies will test and learn to find how it best works for their brand. This is the normal cycle, and one which is an everyday part of digital marketing, as new tools and vendor specific wrinkles emerge on a continuous basis. However, as content marketing is now moving from the emerging channel phase into a mature channel (with the subsequent increased investment in both the production and distribution of branded content) this brings into focus a demand to be responsible in knowing and following best practice principles. Part of that best practice highlights the reality that for branded content to be successful it must be conceived, created and distributed differently to traditional advertising. And digital storytelling lies at the heart of branded content.
An added pressure to up the quality of branded content is the realisation that consumers can access content from many places with very high/authentic levels of production and entertainment value. And content from both UGC and Professional content creators who both don’t have to also weave in a brand-story in order to sell product. This raises the floor significantly on the level of competition for the attention of consumers and further emphasises the need to learn and focus on best practice.