Content marketing is one of those buzzwords we’ve been hearing a lot lately. All the buzz began early last year, when Procter & Gamble CMO Marc Pritchard gave a speech that rattled the industry.
“Technology will mean that people will increasingly expect brands to understand their unique needs and deliver,” Pritchard said at the Signal P&G event in Cincinnati. “We want P&G to be the first to create this trusted, indispensable relationship because it will create greater loyalty, more purchases across categories, and more sales at lower costs. Achieving this vision requires some fundamental shifts in how we operate.”
From that point on, the industry began to shift. Marketers became less focused on selling products and more focused on telling their stories. One aspect of this “fundamental shift,” Pritchard predicted, is the birth of content marketing. And according to Justin Choi, CEO of Nativo, a startup that helps online publishers run sponsored content, content marketing has become a must-have for brands looking to move from an interruptive ad model to participating in building engagement and growing loyalty like Pritchard talked about last year. Nativo also works with brands to help them distribute their branded content.
CMO.com senior & strategic editor Giselle Abramovich spoke to Choi to get a better sense of what content marketing is, how to do it right, and where it’s going in the next 12 to 18 months.
CMO.com: Is branded content the same as content marketing? What are the differences?
Choi: Content marketing is a strategy that is comprised of creating brand-generated content, curated content, and native advertising—so content marketing encapsulates branded content.
CMO.com: Why should CMOs care about branded content?
Choi: They have no choice but to care, with the rise of audiences on platforms. To really engage audiences, you need something to say. The way that consumers interact with media is changing. We are living in a world where there is a mass of content options and different screens to consume on. What we are finding is that traditional advertising—the interruptive ad model—is becoming less and less effective. Content is a way for brands to participate in engagement and move away from interruption. It’s no longer just a nice-to-have. It’s become vital to have something to say.
CMO.com: Where should branded content sit? Marketing? PR? Who owns it?
Choi: It should be with marketing. But I get how PR gets involved. PR gets storytelling generally better than marketing. The PR angle is finding the story, and branded content is finding a story to tell. PR was important when you couldn't reach people with content yourself. You had to pitch journalists and other content creators to write something. Nowadays, brands can reach audiences directly themselves. Marketing should own branded content.
CMO.com: What is the No. 1 mistake marketers make with branded content?
Choi: The biggest mistake is approaching content from the brand’s point of view. In other words, what value will the brand glean from the content we’re producing? The brand should get value, yes, but that’s the wrong starting point. It has to be about the value that existing and potential customers get from this content.
CMO.com: What's the mobile opportunity with content?
Choi: We are finding native ads on desktop work well; on mobile, phenomenally well. You have a concentrated content stream that users are focused on in mobile, and brand content in a native position gives your content eyeballs. When you contrast that to the mobile advertising display unit, people tolerate desktop ads because they can ignore them. On mobile there’s small real estate, and they’re harder to ignore. So brands have two options on mobile. The first is being interruptive, and the second is create content and place it natively, where it blends in within other editorial content and let’s engage consumers. Seems like a no-brainer.
CMO.com: What brands do you feel are rocking branded content? Why are they at the top of your list?
Choi: One that comes to mind is Red Bull. As a consumer, when I see some content produced by Red Bull, I get excited. I’m expecting something very cool or interesting. That means they’re doing it right.
CMO.com: Brands are creating content because they want to position themselves as thought leaders. With that in mind, how much of the content that a brand publishes (in social media, via a blog, etc.) should be created by the brand, and how much should be curated from around the Web?
Choi: Aggregating can be a valuable service sometimes, and curation was something brands used early on to get scale. I think we’re now moving to a point where the branded content (that the brand creates itself) needs to be the bigger part of the mix.