By Bruce Nickson
In Part Two of BCAMA’s Evening Speaker Series event Advertising vs, Content Marketing, we hear from Yuri Machado, Senior Vice President of Integrated Advertising & Strategy at Postmedia Network Inc.
First off, Yuri states, “newspapers create engaging content for readers”. Oh, I thought, “what happened to journalism?” Oh well.
What’s the definition of content marketing? Well, basically, it’s the same as marketing, to sell stuff. Or to develop profitable relationships, which amounts to the same thing.
And as Yuri says, on a B to B level, 60% of customers are favourably disposed to companies delivering custom content to their screen. Postmedia sees content marketing to be about:
- Conciseness of message
- Quality of content
An excellent example of Postmedia’s branded content strategy is the Smart Shift project they developed in partnership with GE with an audience reach of 39 million. Equally impressive is the CTR of 15-20%, where a .81% CTR is fairly normal for a typical website.
Yuri was kind enough to share Post Media’s creation process:
An audience member quite rightly asked: “So, how do you charge for all of this?” Yuri’s reply was: “We’re still trying to figure that out, to be honest. The space charge is basically the same as normal advertising, but the content we charge out as a service.” Which leads us to ponder the future of what could be called CaaS, or Content as a Service?
Some cracks began to appear in the Content Marketing rah rah with Katie Reiach, Principal & Co-Founder of TalkShop Media.
Enough is Enough?
According to Katie: $118 billion has been spent on content marketing in one form or another in recent years. If you’re generating content and delivering it through your blog or other social vehicle, there’s a 67% greater chance of generating leads than if you don’t. Pretty compelling pro-content arguments, no?
BUT, there is a groundswell, just as there is and has been with advertising. So people seem to have begun to spin up their marketing defence systems, with missiles locked on to bad content. As a result, we have some very familiar faces reinventing themselves:
Is this why we keep hearing, over and over, words like “authenticity/sincerity/honesty”, as marketers seem to spend vast efforts of persuading their audiences that they are sincere? Really really sincere. Really.
So, Katie cautions about bad content. Of which there is a lot. Marketers she speaks with talk about being over-stretched in the constant pressure to produce more and more content.
Without the training, depth of writing talent, or just plain scarcity of relevant stuff to offer their target. What this means is that, increasingly, there is more bad content being produced than good.
Content may be King this year, but what about 2015 and beyond? Remember the missile systems we all deploy when the situation hits Marketing Defence Condition (MarDefCon) Five?
PR firms like Katie’s have been doing content since pretty much forever. When PR firms are calling themselves content producers/marketers, Katie gets a bit pissed off, feeling, I suppose, that the fashion for “content” diminishes the work that reputable PR firms work so hard to accomplish.
Content is a tool. More content is just that: more. A judicious use of less content might translate onto more engagement.
The final speaker of the evening was Rich Kroetsch VP and Associate Publisher, alive Publishing Group and Program Head, BCIT School of Business Entrepreneurial Programs. Rich discussed the interaction between Content Marketing and Advertising. The two activities are symbiotic, it turns out. And here’s how:
“There’s so much stuff out there: information, editorial, advertorial ….advertising will drive people to your product, but content marketing will help you keep them”.
So, really, how many of us wake up in the morning thinking: “I’ve got to engage with my detergent.” Nobody. So the challenge is to try to engage with the person who could care less about their detergent experience.
But smart use of content on the Tide site, for example, might teach us how to get rid of that really nasty spill on your cashmere sweater that happened during a very late night visit to MacDonald’s. Tide’s advertising will drive us to their site, and solve our late-night “issue”.
The result is that Tide is keeping the customer. (And we know better not to wear cashmere on a late night tear-about.)
Let’s try a situation with more complex business objectives. What about the con hardcore Birkie-wearing, granola-munching single, Westcoast, organic, gluten-free vegan consumer (a stereotype, I know, I know)? How do we upsell them to spend at Lululemon or Whole Foods (aka “whole paycheque”). Or, in Vancouver psycho-geo-demographic terms, turn Commercial Drive denizens to happy happy hippo Kitsilano families? You give them content that incorporates both sets of values.
Rich states: “customers like to engage; not just brand ambassadors, but also complainers, bitchers, wailers and moaners.” So from a content marketer point of view, you have to give the target for conversion more. More information, more utility, more engagement.
So it’s not about one or another (content vs. advertising), but about one and another. Advertising creates awareness, but content marketing maintains it, and creates top-of-mind engagement, and it’s cheaper. Which do you prefer, the disengaged “buy when on sale” customer or the engaged “repeat buy and recommend” person? The answer is fairly obvious.
A friend, wiser than I, once said: “Beware the tyranny of “OR”, as in Content vs. Advertising. The consistent message from all speakers was Content AND Advertising, in judicious parts, and focused on your business objectives. And that is the takeaway.