The brand as publisher is no longer a new phenomenon. Last week’s Content Marketing Conference is proof of that.
But it’s not a shift that’s easy to make for all organisations. Here are three takeaways from the event:
How creating credible and ‘journalistically valid’ content benefits brands
Reality check: Hardly anyone actually cares about your products and services.
The best native advertising is not about overt selling. As pointed out by Paul Lewis, director of editorial innovation at APN, the success of Forbes, the Guardian, and the BBC on this front rides on the back of strong content and transparency.
“The cleverest use is not so much to push your products and services. It is to support your brand through quality credible content.”
Instead, innovative companies value thought leadership and the opportunity to talk to customers in a way that reflects well on their brand – and, further down the lines, on their products.
The benefit to brands? They get more depth/scope than editorial budgets might allow for typical (unpaid) coverage. But in order to strike a win-win-win for client, publisher and reader, it must be interesting in its own right. In an ideal world, it would even compel a reader to return.
“If it’s sitting on the Herald website it has to be content they would engage with anyway.”
Lewis says the Herald is working out rules of engagement as well as design and formatting for its own native advertising offering to be rolled out soon.
To date, content partnerships have included collaboration with the likes of Flight Centre, Discover America and Tourism Australia, which often include commercially driven microsites attached to nzherald.co.nz. The Discoveramerica.com editorial series included key homepage placements, editor’s picks and a specific USA hub page. Links to the Discover America site were included in each story, and social media coverage added another layer to the campaign. A different hub was created for Tourism Australia, with ambassadors recruited across the categories of food, culture, nature, shopping to create content for web and print.
While there’s very little empirical research around the effectiveness of native ads as yet, users are more likely to click on native advertising content than banner ads (duh) and a recent IPG study found a third of respondents would share a native ad with friends or family.
And with the explosion of mobile, the opportunity to reach large audiences is only growing. As PSFK’s Piers Fawkes tells the Content Strategist: “On mobile, you’re reading emails, you’re looking at Twitter, but you’re not scanning Google when you’re waiting for the train.”
Further down the content marketing funnel – content that converts
That’s not to say content related to your company products and services don’t have a place.
But Brendon Livingstone, marketing and communications manager at Equinox IT, says that type of content comes in further on, once you’ve engaged people and they’ve become part of your ‘tribe’ or community – it sits in the middle of the marketing funnel rather than the top.
He distinguishes between the two types of content marketing:
Content to attract
- Blog posts (think useful, not salesy)
- Social media
- Targeted emails
Content to convert (into marketing leads)
- Presentation events
Content marketing collaboration
At NZTE, content has become a team sport, according to channel director Tim Parkman. Staff are no longer just content producers, but content facilitators, collaborating across the organisation to create content.
The more focused the content, the better it performs (to the tune of 500 percent more engagement), and one way NZTE has come up with original and relevant content is to call on its own experts – researchers, customer specialists and market specialists.
When it comes to amplifying reach, look to partners to help spread content. What organisations do you work closely with, and what organisations have relevant audiences?
NZTE is also testing Outbrain, a recommendation engine that displays related content on other sites, to drive traffic to its own content.