Compelling brands: Content marketing insights from Buzzfeed, YouTube, ChannelFlip, Seven Publishing and idio

Propeller Turbine panellists debate content

On Wednesday evening last week, after The Drum had concluded its inaugural The Drum Live event, Google Campus was the location for the second Propeller Turbine gathering. Situated in the basement of tech-start-up-ville, a collection of media types and technology enthusiasts gathered for a panel around the evolution of brands in a content era.

Hosting this debate on content marketing was none other than Buzzfeed’s UK editor Luke Lewis. After announcing Andy Murray’s hard fought progression into the Wimbledon semi-final Luke Lewis began with a game of guess-which-Buzzfeed-went-viral which was met with some surprise from the audience when it was revealed that “31 Insanely Easy and Clever DIY Projects” got over 7 million views, whilst “21 Awesome Facts About David Bowie” nosedived.

On hand to help to cut through the jargon of “native advertising”, “permission marketing” and “brand entertainment” was Seven’s CEO Sean King, idio’s product evangelist Jonny Rose, ChannelFlip’s sales director Matt Rook and Jen Thompson, sponsorship for YouTube.

Challenging the panel, Jonny Rose put forward the argument that brands don’t need media owners anymore and that they need to seek to own their relationship with the audience. While previously Guinness would have gone through GQ to deliver its message now the brand can become its own GQ and host its own content to speak directly to its target audience. Sean King warned though that there still remains a difference between owned media and being a media owner – he argued that an agency’s expertise plays a vital role, citing that strategy remains paramount to keeping a brand’smessaging on point when integrating across numerous consumer touch-points.

YouTube’s Jen Thompson agreed with the point of consistency adding that every part of a brand’s message needs to be joined up – it’s a bad idea to place a television advert into the digital space; that content should be tailored for the desired medium.

Panellists brought up the notion that online interactions and social media in particular require a new, deeper level of campaign success measurement, as metrics including Facebook ‘Likes’ have lost their true brand engagement value now. Matt Rook asserted that comments on YouTube clips show signs of engagement as opposed to using just views as an indication of success and Jonny Rose was the champion of the Facebook “Share”, as this is the only metric of value, bringing with it areal affirmation of loyalty for brands.

When it comes to measuring success of campaigns, multichannel attribution was cited by Jen Thompson as the way of brands taking a holistic view of the entire customer “journey” around the web. Whether that includes interactions via social, search, or display advertising, all have their relative value to the brand’s success and should not be considered in silos. Expanding upon this point,Jonnyfrom idio added that “Entertainment is a form of disruption” but his truism is that people simply just don’t care about a brand’s products and that the best attitude to adopt is to just to be helpful and think about their customers’ likes and needs more deeply.

A closing question from the audience focussed around seeding and distribution once you have created that great content. And according to Buzzfeed’s Luke Lewis, when your audience is small, viral success depends upon a few key strategy points including incorporating“power sharers” like the avid-Tweeters Caitlin Moran and Grace Dent into your distribution to get the material out to a wide audience.

So what did we learn? Brands need to be helpful, they need to open up direct dialogue with their audience and they need to focus on driving customer engagement by sharing compelling content, if they are to stand out from the crowd in the content marketing era.

Matt Rook, sales director for ChannelFlip summarised his thoughts on the event and said: “The more I learn about the varied and different approaches to content marketing and indeed the enthusiasm and creativity of its' practitioners, aligned with the smart data analysis and tech approach of companies like idio, I'm convinced that we are witnessing the birth of a new and exciting era of advertising.

"Why would a brand want to bind itself within a 30 second ad or a single image in an age where the public are saturated with advertising? As we continue to embrace new technologies and platforms that allow us to screen the messages we see, surely now is the time for clients to invest in content that the discerning viewer actually wants to watch.”

Jonny Rose, product evangelist for idio added: “For me personally, content marketing is all about utility and servicing individual needs: brands can use content marketing to pull people in who aren't necessarily interested in a specific product but instead meeting a need-state behind the product purchase. To this end, you might say that content marketing is lifestyle-centric and not product-centric.

“During my time working with brands and consumers and trying to marry their two interests, I’ve discovered that in order to excel in the world of content marketing, companies must remember that customers don't care about you, your products, your services. They care about themselves, their wants and their needs. So it’s crucial to be helpful.”

Kieran Kent is managing director of Propeller

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