Early last month Kelly Andresen joined Gannett, owner of USA Today and other media brands, as vice president of branded content.
Andresen has more than 14 years of experience in advertising and marketing. Prior to joining Gannett, she was director, WP BrandStudio & Planning, at The Washington Post, where she led two teams dedicated to creating new advertising revenue across print, desktop, video, mobile, and social. In this role, Andresen oversaw the launch of WP BrandConnect, the Post’s native advertising solution, and the WP BrandStudio, an in-house custom content creation and strategy team.
In her new role at Gannett, Andresen will focus on expanding the company’s branded content efforts in mobile, video, data visualization, and virtual reality. CMO.com caught up with Andresen for her take on whether brands truly understand content marketing and the challenge of quantifying success.
CMO.com: What's your mandate at Gannett?
Andresen: I have an amazing opportunity to build out a branded content team and solution that will run natively across Gannett properties. We are really focusing on developing the next-generation of branded content and thus are excited about some virtual reality opportunities currently in the works.
CMO.com: From your experience dealing with brands at The Washington Post, and now at Gannett, do brands "get" content?
Andresen: Content marketing is not easy--because it is actually storytelling at its core--which is very different from traditional marketing and advertising. Those brands that have figured this out, taken risks to try new approaches to telling their story, and have found ways to thoughtfully distribute those stories are producing some great work.
CMO.com: What are the key ingredients of great branded content?
Andresen: I think the recipe is actually quite simple. Of course, often times the simplest things are the hardest to execute. Great branded content needs to tell an authentic story and provide educational or entertainment value to the audience.
CMO.com: What's your ultimate goal in your new role?
Andresen: We want to build a solution and a process that takes advantage of all of Gannett's strengths and makes it easy on brands. Content marketing can be hard, so we want to make the process as turnkey and easy to implement and measure as possible.
CMO.com: What metrics are most effective to use to evaluate the effectiveness of branded content?
Andresen: That depends on what the brand is looking to achieve through its content marketing efforts. It is critical to determine this before running a branded content campaign. I find most brands are looking to improve awareness, consideration, or overall image, and, therefore, a combination of engagement metrics are most effective, including total page views, video completion rates, average time spent, and social shares.
CMO.com: What is the biggest challenge today from a branded content perspective? What's the key to addressing this challenge?
Andresen: How do brands know if a branded content campaign worked? It remains difficult to define success and learn how to replicate it [because] the industry lacks uniform metrics and benchmarks. This will be difficult to solve completely due to the nature of native advertising--i.e., since the content should match the form and function of the environment it appears in, metrics across sites should not be compared. However, I do think as brands, agencies, and publishers gain more experience in the field, quantifying success will improve over time.
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