Is there a Content Marketing craze? Yes. Is content marketing going to be a fad? Very unlikely. Most marketers recognize that in the digital age content, more than ever, is the connecting thread that brings them together with their customers and prospects. Portada’s editorial team asked several experts about 11 key questions brand marketers need to know about. Many of these issues will be explored in-depth by major brand marketers at Portada’s Latin Content Marketing Forum on June 4 in Miami.
1. What is Content Marketing all about?
Michael Fasciano, Associate Director, Content Strategy at Digitas, has an interesting definition. Content Marketing, he says, is about “preparing brands to become publishers.” Matt Borchard, Strategist at The Media Kitchen, notes that there are three types of content: Curated, Originated and co-created. To David Weiner, Digital and Social Engagement Strategy for Brands at Pepsi Beverages, content marketing is about “how paid , earned and owned can work together in a very fuzzy real-time world.”
2.Isn’t Content Marketing much more about PR than about Advertising?
While PR is not the whole story, it is a discipline that is very much related to content marketing because it promotes the earned media component (as opposed to paid media – advertising). According to Michael Fasciano, Associate Director of Content Strategy at Digitas, “soon earned media impressions will surpass paid media impressions.”
3. Does every brand need to become a publisher?
That is a very good question. Pepsi’s David Weiner Digital and Social Engagement Strategy for Brands – Pepsi Beverages Company, doesn’t think so. “I don’t think every brand needs to become a publisher. It’s a commitment in dollars and resources”. A brand may decide to use paid media for the majority of its outreach.”
4. What is native advertising and how does it relate to Content Marketing?
Native advertising is a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to attract attention by providing valuable content in the context of the user’s experience. Similar conceptually to an advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article, a native ad tends to be more obviously an ad while still providing interesting or useful information. As Gawker CEO, Nick Denton recently told us “For advertising to be truly native in an interactive medium, it should be interactive. And I don’t mean that the marketer asks some empty question — what do you think? — and then ignores the answer. New discussion systems such as Branch and Gawker’s Kinja give marketers as well as sources the opportunity to engage intelligently with journalists and readers. That’s the only variety of online marketing that I’d describe as truly native.”
5. But doesn’t native advertising have a credibility issue?
Yes, Native advertising , particularly bad native advertising can blur the line between editorial and brand content. As Ben Kunz, VP of Strategic planning at Mediaassociates writes in Digiday, “Billions of banner ad impressions may annoy readers, but they don’t misdirect users by disguising the source of the message — and this is exactly what native advertising does. If publishers and marketers aren’t careful, they are going to poison the well of digital ad communications by breaking consumer trust.” However, while Kunz’s argument makes a lot of sense, the scenario he predicts does not necessarily have to occur. Digitas’ Fasciano notes that with native advertising it is “crucial to have the right context, hit the right audience at the right time.” If that happens, native advertising can get a “higher response because brand content is perceived as editorial content.” However, Fasciano does caution that this may backfire . “Transparency is very important. As the lines are blurred between paid,earned and owned media you need to be transparent about it.”
6. How important is it for a brand to control the content?
According to Kodi Foster, Sr. Director Brand Initiatives at Outbrain, the answer to this question depends on the type of brand: “The issue of not controlling the content is different for a cookie brand (e.g. Oreo) than for a bank or pharma company who has legal issues.”
7. How can brands have a spontaneous voice in the midst of corporate bureaucracy?
Corporate Bureaucracy can be a killer, almost per definition, for the spontaneity needed in social media and real-time marketing. PR departments in large corporations often require long approval processes. Pepsi’s David Weiner notes that”approval processes can be avoided once there is trust. Alignment and good partnerships and processes can make real time marketing possible.”
8.What content does a brand need to invest in?
To Matt Borchard, Strategist at The Media Kitchen, the key question is what type of content builds trust. Michael Fasciano adds that brand marketers should ask themselves what type of value they are bringing to the consumer. The key is that content should become an asset as opposed to an expense. In his opinion, its important that content is about what happens now and that there are real-time conversations with the brands’ followers.
9. Is there really a need for a brand to be ‘always on’?
Most social media and content marketing specialists note that it depends on the objectives of the brand. Brand marketers do not necessarily have to have an always on content marketing strategy. Some experts contend that a marketer needs to be real-time on Facebook. For brands that need to be always on, agencies are creating special units. An example is McCann Always On which was recently created in New York to work on 15 brand assignments sold by marketer clients of McCann Erickson New York that include General Mills, L’Oreal and Nestle. McCann Always On intends to become the always-on content strategists focused on intiatives that are talking in the brands voice in a way the consumer wants to be engaged as well as taking care of managing the communities of consumers who follow these brands.
10. What is the right frequency?
Related to the always on – real-time question, is the frequency with which the different content marketing elements are used. The Frequency of sharing content can be solved by using different platforms. “The frequency question is not answered by sharing X times on Facebook”, says Fasciano. “You should treat Frequency like a program and create expectations around it.”Pepsi’s David Weiner notes that “there definitely is a need to cultivate an audience. There obviously is a quantity versus quality tradeoff. Digitas’ Fasciano recommends marketers to implement a stock and flow strategy. The key objective should be to get an audience of followers and keep it.
11. What metrics should be used to measure Content Marketing?
“Content marketing is about thought leadership. You may not sell a lot of product in the short-term,” argues The Media Kitchen’s Matt Borchard. Interestingly, Digitas’ Fasciano argues that really “good content should create demand.” So, how should content marketing and its different elements be measured? ” Engagement is the main objective and it can be measured via metrics including social shares, page views. Another element to measure is Loyalty which can be measured via metrics such as frequency of visits.