The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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Why content creators are becoming the cornerstone of performance marketing


By Greg Shepard, CTO

August 31, 2017 | 7 min read

“The faster your business realizes it’s a media company, the more likely it will be to succeed in 2020, in 2025, in 2030,” shared Gary Vaynerchuk with his Twitter followers. “This is a world where you don’t have to invest in a printing press, or a satellite, or a sales team in order to distribute your story anymore.”


The medium that the marketing visionary and serial entrepreneur chose to broadcast this revelation on supports his point -- it’s all about the right content at the right time. Influencing the consumer throughout their omnichannel experience with specially focused micro-moments is driven by serving up compelling content through the channels at your disposal, ultimately positioning your brand as a media company.

Today’s media landscape thrives on providing rich content that can be seamlessly acted upon in place of blatant advertising. A well-timed, geo-specific micro-moment of easily digestible content results in a stronger consumer connection than a “spray and pray” approach within a single channel.

Content in context sits at the heart of this contemporary approach to marketing, forcing the industry to rethink their traditional messaging practices and cater their messaging to specific audiences targeting more specific demographics. The NFL’s recent push to grow teens’ interest in football is an exceptional example of a marketing campaign to connect with a segmented audience. The organization used short-form content across Facebook and Instagram as well as custom Snapchat lenses, a four-part video series on teen-focused Awesomeness TV, and the integration of music and sports on SoundCloud. The campaign, Let’s Play Football, ran in early 2016.

“We looked at our existing fans and hyper-targeted them by creating fan profiles of our target audience and appending first, second, and third-party data,” explained Aidan Lyons, NFL marketing VP. “We targeted them in high-impact and highly visual social platforms where we tested various forms of creative and optimized to double-down on the winners.”

The campaign was a success. The NFL reached 70% of U.S. teens, growing awareness of the sport and heavily impacting the demo’s perception of football. Additionally, Lyons noted the intent to actually play football -- an important element of becoming a fan of a particular sport -- among teens increased 22% with youth enrollment in the NFL’s Heads Up Football program increasing 10%.

Performance marketing takes residence inside influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has exploded. This growth reflects the shifting behaviors among consumers as well as the strategic flexibility of the marketers who follow them. Where focusing on niche blogs was once considered a leading-edge marketing tactic, that segment -- while still alive -- has been subjugated by social media channels and the content curators who inhabit those spaces.

The evolution of influencer marketing into modern day word of mouth has come into its own as a primary method of marketing for the entire performance marketing ecosystem. These influencers, celebrity or otherwise, have built up huge followings on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, becoming an important piece of the brand advocacy puzzle.

Performance marketing, as its name suggests, triggers payment to an advertising element only when that element contributes to pre-determined performance metrics. Influencers are now a part of that equation. At inception, influencers were compensated with a flat fee for building and sharing brand’s content through a series of tweets, blog post or Instagram shares. Enter the Cost Plus Performance model.

The cost plus performance model

A pay for performance model provides personalized links to influencers to embed in their content that will track the clicks, impressions and sales generated from a post. The real-time capturing of this data will trigger payment to the influencer based on performance. It’s become a hybrid model whereby a brand provides an influencer with a sample of a product, a placement fee and commission based upon a performance goal the merchant is looking to achieve. The fostering of influencer partnerships in this manner makes sense in the face of over-reliance on the last click model of attribution and takes into account the impact the influencer made before that final click.

I call this hybrid model Cost Plus Performance, which I espoused way back in 2006. The CPL model marries the best of the old school CPC and CPM with the newer CPS, CPA and CPL models. Because of the convergence of remuneration models, more and more traditional advertisers are becoming exposed to and experiencing the value of performance marketing.

From a performance marketing perspective, the merging of these aforementioned payment models makes much more sense than early influencer marketing payment methods—high cost, no guarantee. Overlying the affiliate marketing model atop the burgeoning influencer marketing channel provides the best of both worlds: payment only for performance while tapping into a trusted word of mouth relationship between consumer and influencer.

Cost plus performance inside a micro-moment

As it relates to marketing, a micro-moment is defined as a moment in time that serves the immediate need of the consumer. It could be a quick Google search, location-based or app-enabled moment. In Google’s version of the micro-moment, a brand pays Google to run an ad that is then found when a person performs a search for a particular product or something nearby. That ad leads to some kind of branded micro-moment landing page with an offer.

Most micro-moments are fueled by paid media, specifically search engine marketing and are customarily location-based. When combined with influencer and performance marketing, location is no longer a factor.

Micro-moments can also happen with influencers who are touting products and brands in their social feeds, driving “I-want-to-know”, “I-want-to-go”, “I-want-to-buy”, and “I-want-to-do” moments in the mind of the consumer. That customer then seeks out the very thing that will satiate their need or acts upon the offer made by the influencer.

When they turn to Google after experiencing a micro-moment, they might see an ad at the top of the page. However, they will also see thousands of other organic sources or social media posts for the same need. Many of those sources are created and managed by affiliates to be front-and-center for the consumer at the exact moment they have a need. The saturation of ads clouds the consumers’ judgment and becomes counterproductive in generating sales.

The idea is that content creators, whether they be bloggers or social media personalities, are laying the foundation for millions of micro-moments to be enacted upon when a person searching or scrolling through their social media feed finds a match for a need.

Approaching marketing with a content in context mindset is the best way to take advantage of the current landscape. Leveraging influencers, focusing on micro-moments and injecting cost plus performance as a tactic within your e-commerce strategy will open up a whole new world for marketers looking to optimize their content and position themselves as a successful media company.

Greg Shepard is chief technology officer at Pepperjam

The Drum Content Awards honor the best in modern marketing. Content marketing & branded entertainment focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.


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