Brands are seeking more transparent approaches to their online media spend, in order to understand the best return on investment they can possibly find, an issue that grows increasingly complicated. Anda Gansca, chief executive and co-founder of Knotch, the digital content measurement platform, who is set to be one of this year’s winners at the People of the Year event hosted by The Advertising Club of New York, offers her insights the issues faced by the sector.
Why does the content marketing space need better measurement?
Content needs better measurement because the majority of the data products out there that are supposed to measure ROI were invented during the display era, therefore they are display measurement products. Display is a very different type of advertising to measure, it’s a lot more binary. Display measurement is either: has it been clicked on or not? Whereas content is a multivariate equation for success. You can think of success as engagement, impressions, social, conversions or attitude or a combination of all of those five. So when it comes to sourcing data and making sense of all these different data sets around what ROI means, I believe that you need a fundamentally different product, and that is what Knotch is building. The other piece of this is that unlike display, which is a lot easier to benchmark as it’s a binary measurement, content success is varied for different brands. How GE might define success may be entirely different from how the next technology brand defines success, and even how Unilever defines success can be different depending on the brands and their individual campaigns.
Publishers have begun to create their own metrics - why has it proven so difficult to find a consensus that can be rolled out industry wide for content marketing?
It’s been hard to find a common currency for brands as Content Marketing ROI is made up of different metrics that mean different things to different people. I personally believe that we are evolving into a stage of advertising where success is a lot more personalized so I believe the common currency around content marketing ROI should be alignment at the level of the brand. There should be a high level understanding across the entire marketing organization, and probably even outside of that, of what success means to that brand given their bottom line and their business purpose. After that, the notion of success can trickle down into how content is created and distributed and how it’s measured.
What are your views on the labeling and regulations that are being introduced for such content?
I think an interesting piece around labelling and regulation is that you need to label it as branded content - by law. I think it is ethical to signal a piece as content with a purpose as opposed to entertaining or informational content. That being said, I don’t think that consumers care as much as long as the content is good, and good can mean different things. Good can mean it’s providing utilitarian content on a site like Colgate that is informing the reader on how to cure mouth blisters, or it could be something about getting financially savvy on how to run your small business from JP Morgan Chase, or it could be inspirational content that deals with diversity and incredible leaders within a large organization. As long as the content has utility value or entertainment value, I don’t think people care, and the regulation actually helps as it creates a layer of trust by communicating to the respective audiences from the get go that this is content with a purpose from a brand.
Does the public care if it's sponsored content as long as they are interested in what entertainment or insight it delivers?
I don’t think the consumer cares. I think it has been traditionally harder to get organic traffic to some branded content but I’ve also seen the entire industry raise the bar on quality of what gets created to begin with. I think brands are either recognizing that they need to create utility driven content at scale, which is much more of an owned play, or, recognizing that their inspirational content needs to be that much better and that they need to be more seamlessly integrate with content that is already very strong. For example, there is content that is co-created by the publisher and brand together and then there is content that is created anyway and then gets sponsored by a brand, and I think it’s helping the affiliation with that brand that the content is already there.
What needs to be done soon in order to keep pace with the growing demand for content by marketers?
One of the biggest trends we’ve seen at Knotch is the rise of owned content hubs and owned content efforts, and I think that is really where the scalability question comes into play around how you can create, publish and distribute content at scale. I think that there are a couple of different companies that have attempted to solve this problem earlier than they should have. I think it is really becoming more of a problem now, and I believe that we will see a rise in either CMS-driven platforms or just a lot more success for companies like Percolate, Contently and so on. On the owned side, it is really about finding the right creators and then finding the right software to be able to publish at scale. On the paid side, I think it’s really about quality over quantity now. I would assume that the scalability there is not going to be an issue, I think the issue is around using dollars efficiently to pick the best partners and go deep with them.
Who is doing the best job, in your view, of creating and distributing content overall? Why?
It’s hard to pick a winning brand, because, ultimately, if we believe that there is no one way to measure content, then there is no one successful brand. I do, however, think that there are leaders within certain fields. For example, we are seeing some amazing content come out of the financial services industry, we’ve seen great efforts come out of JP Morgan Chase, Citi and Capital One. There are of course a lot of other brands out there that are just getting into content and are becoming very good at it, very fast. I think there are newer brands, like Casper, Plated and Oscar, that have been born into an age where you say ‘content marketing’ and they will say ‘marketing’, and I think they are doing a really good job of raising the bar of the brands that are still doing linear advertising with TV and display.
What does this award from the Ad Club of NY mean to yourself?
We, as a company, moved from Silicon Valley to New York only a few years ago, and before we moved we were building a product in a bit of a vacuum. We didn’t really know how it was going to apply to the industry and I remember about three years ago we came to New York for a month and said ‘we are going to do a crash course in all things marketing and media’. I look back on that time and see how little we knew about this complex industry, and I also think about how in the last three years we’ve built this really focused go-to-market strategy that has differentiated us from the rest of the industry. The fact that we are now receiving this prestigious award from such an important institution in the advertising industry, to me, means that we have gone from taking a crash course in advertising to being the market leader for all things content intelligence - which is a testament to how fast we’ve learned, disrupted ourselves and gained traction within the market - and that means a lot to us. It is also an honor to be awarded alongside industry peers I admire so much like Diego Scotti from Verizon and Lisa Price from Carol’s Daughter.
The People of the Year event, held by The Advertising Club of New York, will be held at Guastavino’s in New York on September 18 from 6pm. Further details can be found at The Advertising Club of New York’s website.