Content marketing is striving to overcome a misunderstanding that it purely creates ‘shit’ advertising content masquerading as entertainment or news; however, the trust held by media brands can overcome that cynicism. This was one view discussed at The Drum’s recent Content Marketing Breakfast which featured input from ITN Production's managing director Mark Browning; Justin Pearse, managing director of The Drum Works; digital social director of MOI Joe Edwards; Clare O'Brien, senior industry programmes manager of IAB UK; and Kaylee King-Balentine, the director of the New York Times' international native content hub T Brand Studio.
“Now is the time to start to look at what this stuff is doing for our businesses and how we measure it properly,” said Browning, who added that organisations were failing to measure such content effectively – something that needs to be corrected widely before budgets are slashed as a result.
Despite this, King-Balentine highlighted the revenue content marketing studios generate and said it was the “bolder” brand marketing decisions allowing companies to “tell a good story” that were proving most successful.
“Content for content’s sake is still happening and drives us all crazy in production and does nothing for the brand. But we are seeing more and more brands willing to take a risk and tell a really good story – which started with Netflix, which was our really big win – and we are seeing a shift in that thought from brands and also seeing a lot of brands coming to us and say ‘we have no idea how to handle this’.”
Despite targeting a B2B audience, which is a smaller pool than the more mainstream content produced by most brand briefs, Pearse was also adamant that creating content for the sake of it is causing more problems than it is solving.
“Now you can get it out to your end customers very easily through digital channels. That is why publishers win because all they care about is their audience. The first thing on my mind is reaching The Drum’s audience and that way the client is going to get a result. The market is flooded with substandard content, which is why, when you care about the audience first and foremost, the client wins.”
O’Brien agreed that audiences trust publishing brands most to understand and cater to their tastes. She led the creation of a dedicated advisory board for the sector, made up of individuals from a range of advertising disciplines. There was a brief decision to split the group into two – tech and distribution – in order to better utilise the knowledge they hold, but this was quickly reversed.
“I could see all these cathedrals being built in the desert and, from a distribution point of view, I could see all these audiences being greeted by the crappiest content in the world,” said O’Brien when explaining her concerns. “The whole model will not work unless you have fantastic quality content that meets the audience’s needs at the right time with the right mix of technology and data management.”
Furthering the discussion on the need to implement strong distribution models for content to reach engaged audiences, ITN’s Browning revealed that in the last year he had saw advertiser funded programming make a small resurgence. He also cited moves by brands wishing to be “always on,” constantly updating their feeds with new stories, information and videos, as a development through digital channels that he expected to continue, discussing work with Thomas Cook and Natwest as two strong examples.
“When you are producing one editorial film for a brand every week, how do you get that exposure to drive viewers to that channel in a way that is authentic still? Only a few publishers can do that because they hold the trust.”
Watch the video below to hear more Content Marketing insights from the panel.