Here’s how to engage viewers who have learned to tune out online ads
Long ago, traditional advertisers attempted to experiment with the Internet by doing what Mad Men knew best: creating and distributing messages to convince consumers to buy their product. This manifested as seldom-clicked banner ads and annoying pop-up videos that made the web experience feel cluttered and obtrusive. In 2016, this experiment continues to fail.
Traditional advertisements can’t work online because they were not designed with that medium in mind. They thrived when content could only be seen through a one-way message via mass media. The democratisation of the Internet broke that process by starting a conversation in which people demanded to participate. By opening communication channels, democratising opinions and distributing content that much easier, the web changed the rules about how people consume content and communicate — not only with each other but also with brands.
Using the wrong medium
No one goes online to view ads. Rather, they go for entertainment, social media, information, news, etc. The Internet is an interactive, inclusive place where it’s easy to consume and share content with other users. 92 per cent of consumersaround the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
Brands have adapted to this information by creating the content people go on the Internet for. By implementing content marketing, a brand or business can market themselves as relevant thought leaders and tastemakers of content. From how-to articles to infographics to heart-warming or informative videos, brands can offer Internet users a subtle marketing experience. In return, people gain something relevant from this experience (entertainment, information, etc.) and thus give brands their respect or loyalty.
Content marketing opens the space for brands to participate and communicate online in a way that works, unlike traditional advertising. It can complement traditional advertising and vice versa. Since brands can’t afford to waste ineffective traditional ads on the Internet, they must turn to content marketing experts. Experts know that the best content marketing isn’t selling the product, but the content. The best way to do this is through crafting compelling content from a data-driven strategy.
Creating a content strategy
Just as brands went to advertising agencies to create and execute campaigns, brands must go to content marketing agencies to create and execute content strategies. At Quietly, we work with brands to strategise, execute and scale content marketing. Our approach has led to an increase in brand visibility, social media engagement, discoverability, SEO and sales.
But our success — and the brand’s — rests on strategy.
Strategy is the most important tool for content marketing. The best ones are data-driven, flexible and align content with brand values. It’s important that every brand’s strategy consistently produces content, but that the strategy is flexible. After strategy and execution comes the fun part: distribution. Once the content is packaged and hosted on the brand’s blog, brands show off their work by promoting on-brand content through their social channels where the content is consumed by folks and fans on the Internet. This is when it’s time for the brand and agency to measure the content and strategy. By analysing a variety of metrics — including time spent and social engagement — we have instantaneous feedback that allows us to better optimize a brand’s content strategy and create new, more aggressive goals to reach. Rinse, recycle, repeat and a brand will see results.
The guiding principle in advertising and content marketing is based on one idea: brands bringing happiness to consumers. With mass media, that meant selling people a product and an experience. In the age of content marketing, that means giving people meaningful, entertaining, surprising and compelling content online. Content marketing is the 21st century’s answer for brands to bring happiness to their consumers.
Dario Meli is the CEO of Quietly a strategic data-driven content marketing agency, and the co-founder of Hootsuite, Invoke, Brightkit, and Foodee.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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