Suddenly, everyone in digital media is talking about “native advertising”, “content marketing” and “sponsored content”.
Some may quibble about the differences between those disciplines, but the principles are clear. The outcomes, however, not so much.
So how is the industry deploying content, how effective is it really and what is the future? These numbers may help us all get behind the hype…
1. Content marketing works
61 per cent of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. Brands that want to convert browsers into customers should provide value and utility through content (Source: Custom Content Council).
2. Most of us are doing it
Eighty-eight per cent of UK marketers say they now undertake content marketing in 2014 – down from 94 per cent a year earlier (Source: CMI UK Benchmarks 2014).
3. Spending is rocketing
US advertiser spend on sponsored content is forecast to hit $3.2bn in 2017 – that’s 22.1 per cent up from 2012 – and the forecasts are being revised upward for faster-than-expected growth (Source: eMarketer).
4. We’re flying without a map
Three quarters of UK marketers rate their content effectiveness three or four out of five – yet the majority don’t actually have a documented content strategy. It is encouraging that self-declared effectiveness has grown over the last year – but, like all aspects of business, content marketing should be judged against clear, specified goals (Source: CMI UK Benchmarks 2014).
5. Consumers will read good content
Sixty-eight per cent of consumers say they spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in (Source: Content Marketing Association).
6. Content experiences can last far longer than old-media advertising
Branded articles that take 25 minutes to read put traditional 30-second TV ad spots in the shade. TV advertising is still effective – but still expensive. Content marketing lets marketers buy longer dwell time at cheaper rates (Source: Content Marketing Association).
7. Everything and the kitchen sink
UK marketers use a whopping 14 content marketing tactics. Such a wide array of publishing measures risks diluting the effectiveness of any single one. Instead, settle on fewer, higher-impact channels (Source: CMI UK Benchmarks 2014).
8. Blogs are still used widely by marketers
They may be nearing 15 years old, but an oldie is a goodie. Eighty-six percent of UK marketers use blogs in their content mix – almost as popular as the leading tactic, social media. Blogs let brands easily publish articles via their own site and for sharing around the web (Source: CMI UK Benchmarks 2014).
9. A picture tells a thousand words – to twice as many people
Articles with images get 94 per cent more views. Clearly, plugging photos in to social channels is becoming more important, with platforms such as Twitter now displaying images more prominently (Source: Content+).
10. But Instagram is under-used
Only 20 per cent of UK marketers distribute content through the social photo service – less than half the proportion who use Google+ (Source: CMI UK Benchmarks 2014).