Content marketing

Editor’s Note – A definition of content marketing: creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience. The Science of Engagement – Content Matters – presented by Andrew Tenzer, Head of Global Research BBC Global News Ltd.

This original research focused on content marketing was presented by BBC Global News at the Audience Measurement (AM) conference held in June.

The approach: digital consumers of English language international news age 16+; six markets (Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, US, Canada and Germany); quantitative survey + facial coding + implicit response testing.

Among the key takeaways:

  • There is heightened engagement where brand involvement is fully transparent
  • Properly executed, content marketing is trusted and persuasive
  • It can have a powerful emotional impact on brands
  • Referencing the brand within the narrative works harder for the advertiser

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Deconstructing Branded Content

Jess Halter – Senior Research Analyst, IPG Media Lab

Kara Manatt – VP, Consumer Research Strategy, IPG Media Lab

Branded content is very effective, and it’s even more effective than traditional video ads. They looked at the best practices for creating branded content and deploying it. They worked with 50 brands across 19 industry verticals. “We surveyed 14,780 people to learn what branded content is across the globe, how to deploy it, and what to take into account when creating it.”

The first thing they needed to do was come up with a working definition of branded content: “content that lives on its own, produced by and for the brand, as opposed to content produced by someone else than the brand affixes itself to.”

They recruited participants in 10 different countries and randomized them into a single test cell.

  • Control (stand-alone content with no brand mentions)
  • Standard Video ad
  • Branded content

“We conducted a broad and deep test,” said Manatt. First they wondered, “Do consumers even know the difference between branded content and traditional video ads?”

They created a Content Marketing Score. Participants were asked to rate the video (scored 13%). People see branded content differently—and consider it to be less a form of traditional advertising than traditional video ads. This was a prevailing attitude in Asia, Europe, and Latin America but not the Middle East.

How is branded content different?

Both standard video ads and branded content were considered marketing, but branded content was viewed differently and seen as more entertaining, uplifting, educational, novel and exciting.

Consumers view branded content differently from traditional marketing, and are more likely to characterize branded content in one of the many forms it can take, such as a how-to video, a sponsored show, a brand promotion or entertainment.

How do you optimize branded content?

Branded content was created with the consumer mind-set and provides what consumers want and need to hear. “When you’re providing education to consumers,” said Manatt, “it also makes them think more favorably about your brand.”

How branded content is perceived by country:

  • Europe: Provide relevant information
  • Asia: All about exciting content
  • Latin American: Inform with humor
  • Middle East: Difficult to move purchase intent. It’s a less mature market.

Their advice? “Make that connection with your brand really strong.” Even though content with high branding was perceived as a product pitch, it was still considered more informative and equally trustworthy. Branded content inspired a level of trust.

They encouraged brands to try a lot of different strategies:

  1. Spend the extra money to make high quality content—it’s worth it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to incorporate branding, especially for high consideration brands.
  3. Branded content is more than providing entertainment. Provide valuable information to your consumers.
  4. Location, location, location. Place content on premium sites.


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Branded Content Boosts Purchase Intent According to a Study by IPG and Google

High-quality branded content is effective at increasing brand favorability and intent to purchase according to a study conducted by IPG Media Lab and Google. This global study surveyed 14,780 consumers and included brands in 19 categories in 10 countries. Jon Lafayette’s article in Broadcasting and Cable provides some of the conclusions from this study.

Among these conclusions:

-The companies defined branded content as content that lives on its own, produced by and for the brand, as opposed to content produced by someone else that the brand affixes it to.

-Consumers found branded content more entertaining, uplifting, educational, novel and exciting than standard video ads.

-The study found that high-quality content led to a 10% greater increase in purchase intent, compared to lower quality content.

According to Kara Manatt, VP Consumer Research Strategy at the IPG Media Lab, “Our data indicates there are clear best practices marketers can take advantage of when creating and deploying branded content. Naturally, marketers spend more time and budget creating this custom content, so having these guidelines based on improving brand perceptions and driving purchase intent is invaluable.”

Among these guidelines:

-Mentioning the brand more often increased the perception that the content was designed to “sell a product,” but the information was still trusted.

-For high-price purchases, purchase intent was higher with more brand mentions.

-Placing content on a premium site can have a halo effect on brand preference and intent to purchase. The more consumers liked the site, the greater the impact the branded content had on those consumers.

IPG Media Labs and Google plan to continue studying branded content.

For more on this topic, check out the Advertising Tab in Morning Coffee.

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Content Budgets Rise as Measurement Advances-Nearly Half of Marketers Are Spending 20% More on the Discipline

Kate Maddox summarizes the results of a new report on content marketing by Forrester Research in this Advertising Age article.  According to the report’s author, Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at Forrester Research, marketers have increased their content marketing budgets and have been able to achieve bottom-line measurement of their content marketing programs.

Twenty-five percent of marketers increased their content marketing budgets by 30% or more in 2015 compared to 2014, and 47% of marketers boosted their content marketing budgets by 20% or more.

Skinner attributes the budget increases to:

-The shift from traditional to online media, especially by millennials.

-The use of self-directed research by customers during the purchasing journey.

-The need for valuable, relevant content due to ad blocking.

In addition to increasing these budgets, there is an increased ability to measure the impact of content marketing.

Seventy-five percent of marketers reported positive bottom-line results from their content marketing, including increased customer loyalty, and reduced marketing and media expenses.  In addition, 57% of marketers reported increased revenue and sales.

This article also presents the details of content marketing strategies by SAP and Lenovo. Metrics used by these companies to measure content marketing results include overall impressions and views, time spent engaging with the content, the number of leads generated and sales.

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Data is the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing

Alexandra Samuel, writing for the Harvard Business Review analyzes data journalism, which the author views as an important trend.  Data journalism draws on the growing availability of data sets and data analysis tools to uncover and tell stories.  Big data offers marketers the opportunity to develop data-driven stories involving new insights, to tell stories in a compelling manner, and to have the stories disseminated via social media.

However, Samuel points out that data visualizations driven by original data are rare.  While infographics are frequently used by corporations and marketers, these infographics do not focus on original data-driven content.

Benefits of offering data as a content marketing resource include:

-Increased traffic: data visualizations and reports are likely to be shared on social media.

-Value: by offering unique information and actionable insights, the company’s content will provide value.

-Authority: by offering a report or infographic with new information or key trends, the company’s expertise is highlighted.

-Learning: by releasing some of the corporation’s data in a form that readers can use to create their own charts or analyses, new insights may be revealed.

-Transparency: by offering information on the patterns revealed by consumer data, brands can help consumers feel more comfortable with the use of their personal data.

Samuel feels that some companies have successfully used their own data to drive original stories, such as OKCupid, General Electric, Kickstarter, and Jawbone.  However, the potential of data-driven marketing is not being fully utilized by most companies.

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CMOs to Invest More in Brand Experience with Content Marketing

CMOs will invest more in content marketing, as they shift their priorities toward customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy.  YuYu Chen, writing for ClickZ, discusses new research from The CMO Club and IBM.

According to the report, “Marketing is a (Buyer) Journey, Not a Destination,” 57% of CMOs expect their budgets to increase over the next two to three years, with a 52% traditional and a 48% digital spending split.  CMOs participating in this research indicated that content generation would be their largest expenditure, accounting for 13% of their increasing budgets.  

CMOs are focusing on customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy at every point in the buying journey.  Building long-lasting customer relationships is important to marketers, and content marketing can provide consumers with a consistent and personalized experience during the entire purchasing journey.  In addition, content marketing can serve as an educator for the brand and result in a deeper degree of engagement with consumers.

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Content Development for B2B Audiences

Ken Bowen, writing for Marketing Sherpa’s blog, discusses the study, “Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand  Marketers and Their B2B audiences.”  This survey of 500 global business executives and 500 global marketers focused on content strategy and content marketing.  It was conducted by The Economist in association with the market research firm Peppercomm.

Key findings:

-Though marketers are increasing their investment in content, content strategy remains poorly understood organizationally.

-There is a massive disconnect between the content that business executives seek and the content that marketers provide.

-There is an equally large disconnect between the goals of content marketers and the KPIs they use to measure success.

-Content medium is very important to business executives.


Applying the findings of this study will result in more effective B2B content strategy and marketing.


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Local Businesses Can Succeed By Providing Strong Content and Paying for Promotions and Ads

Will Scott, writing for Search Engine Land, provides content marketing tips to local businesses to help them stand out from online competitors:

-Focus on what customers want to know-this includes answering real questions and providing product information critical to the purchase decision, as well as communicating the latest news and entertainment.

-Get that knowledge to the people-which can include posting content on a corporate or business blog

-Pay-to-play-in order to obtain the reach that a small business needs, Scott recommends that these companies may need to pay for promoted posts and ads.

Scott concludes that by providing quality content and promoting the content through targeted organic and paid venues, small businesses can effectively compete for customers.

For more on this topic, check out the Tech Tab in Morning Coffee.

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A Solid Content Marketing Strategy is Critical to the Success of the Overall Marketing Strategy

David Kirkpatrick, shares ideas for content marketing on the MarketingSherpa Blog.  Both consumers and B2B prospects are doing most of their own research.  B2B prospects are getting 80% down the pipeline before contacting a salesperson.

Kirkpatrick emphasizes that content marketing is not about selling a company, a product or a service.  It is about becoming a trusted destination for prospects by providing content which results in thought leadership and brand awareness.

Content can come from many sources, including:

-Created internally by Marketing

-Provided internally by subject matter specialists within the company

-Supplied by third-party experts and industry leaders

-Generated by users

In addition to using content from multiple sources, it is also important to share different types of content:

-Written blog posts

-White papers




-Slide decks



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