Mashable's executive director of advertising on why one size doesn't fit all when it comes to content marketing

Content marketing is not a new fad or trend, though still in its infancy compared to other marketing methods, the discipline is a natural evolution in terms of advertising. However, Mashable's executive director of advertising, Ben Maher, notes there is a "sliding scale of competency".

Content marketing is not a new fad or trend, though still in its infancy compared to other marketing methods, the discipline is a natural evolution in terms of advertising. However, Mashable's executive director of advertising, Ben Maher, notes there is a "sliding scale of competency".

Speaking to The Drum, Maher, a judge at this year's The Drum Content Awards, explained some brands have grasped the importance of using "content in creative ways to convey messages" but there are still brands "continuing steady with what has worked before" and, surprisingly, some who are not getting involved at all.

There are many advantages of content marketing, from small businesses finally being able to compete with larger rivals to being responsive, the technique can help generate as much cut through as traditional methods particularly when certain audience types, like millennials, are involved.

"The digital revolution has created a bevy of platforms and formats over the past decade that have made interacting and commentating with the appropriate audiences much easier. But not all brands should get involved with content in the same way," said Maher.

"What's important to remember is the story your brand is trying to communicate and the most appropriate way to interact with the audience you're trying to reach."

Younger audiences who spend less time engaging with traditional media are a prime target for content marketing. A recent survey from digital media firm Defy Media, released in March 2015, revealed those aged 13-24 watched more hours of video on YouTube and other digital outlets because they find it more enjoyable and relevant to their lives.

In total, those surveyed, watched 11.3 hours of online video per week, compared with 8.3 hours of regularly scheduled TV, adding weight to fellow judge Will Barnett's comments that audiences are increasingly creating their own schedules, meaning brands need to be proactive and follow consumers to new platforms.

According to Maher, a huge milestone in the marketplace in the last 12 months has been the "prevalence of digital visual storytelling" which has huge implications for both publishers and brands.

"From Vine to Instagram to Snapchat and beyond, these social platforms have truly opened up a new world of creativity for reaching audiences that hasn't been seen in years," he added.

As a judge at The Drum Content Awards Maher revealed he's looking for "originality and a considered approach to the environment they are placing their content in." Warning brands "crowbarring themselves into a category or format that may not fit its core identity" will do nothing more than frustrate him.

"We must remember that utilising content that fits your audience is just as important and experimentation with new and emerging formats," he said.

The inaugural The Drum Content Awards takes place on Wednesday 18 November at the Emirates Area. The awards are open for entry until Friday 7 August. For more information on the awards, judges or how to enter visit The Drum Content Awards website.

Gillian West

Gillian West is The Drum’s social media manager and works to ensure The Drum’s content reaches followers across platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram in an engaging, relevant and timely manner. Based in Glasgow, she has been actively involved in building The Drum’s Creative Works brand for over three years now and has interviewed major creative figures including Rankin, Peter Souter, Rosie Arnold, Bob Greenberg and Vicki Maguire. During her time at The Drum she has attended events such as Cannes Lions, the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Art Director’s Club Europe, D&AD and more.

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