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The new relationships in content marketing

Clare Hill

Last week saw the announcement of Dentsu Aegis acquiring John Brown Media – a seismic moment in the world of content marketing. The deal highlights why content marketing is such an exciting and vibrant area to be in and its growth across the media and advertising sector.

It is clear to see that the lines between media agencies and content marketing agencies are blurring – media agencies have recognised that the content marketing discipline plays a leading part in the overall marketing mix. Some media agencies are offering in house content creation divisions and some are focusing on giving strategic advice to clients whilst outsourcing the creation to content specialists. Others are acquiring full service content specialist agencies, evidenced by Thursday’s announcement.

The acquisition means that John Brown Media will work closely with Dentsu Aegis-owned agency iProspect in particular, to integrate their content publishing capabilities into iProspect’s performance-driven solutions globally. The union of an agency like iProspect, with its heritage in performance-led quality content marketing, media and technology, with that of proven editorially-led content specialist like John Brown, will be fascinating as many would argue that quality content

Brands are also changing the dynamic in the sector. One trend we’ve been seeing is brands migrating spend from traditional channels into owned channels with companies such as The Prince’s Trust only focusing their strategy on owned and earned media and Lego concentrating on investing in owned media to further develop their brand. On the other hand, for media agencies, having a developed content proposition enables them to open up their offering to paid, owned and earned media.

As a response to these trends, the Content Marketing Association launched CMA Advance this March – a free intermediary service connecting brands with member agencies. So far, we’ve successfully matched brands including Zurich Municipal, Reed and The Children’s Society. The relationship between content agencies and brands has been long recognised in our tri-sector basis of our membership – which now includes media agencies, content specialists and brands. It’s a direct reflection of the way our industry is changing and integrating.

Content marketing is channel agnostic and requires in-depth skills, such as journalistic editorial skills or quality video production skills, across all channels to create the most successful strategies. Media owners, agencies, brands and content specialists need to be able to adapt their offering to keep up with the changing needs of consumers, but they also need to be able to adapt their skill set across multiple-platforms.

As more people recognise the importance and effectiveness of a content marketing strategy, the discipline is opening doors to a wider and wider community. But with a bigger ball park to play in and content marketing budgets rising, marketers need to ensure they remain true to the overall aim of content marketing – to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands.

Clare Hill is managing director at the Content Marketing Association

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