Brand journalism is the future for digital marketing, but it must be authentic

Is brand journalism the future of content marketing?Does brand journalism and content marketing represent the future of digital marketing? That was certainly the message from a recent panel discussion hosted by Outbrain.

Leading voices from the industry pointed to the increasingly important role of content marketing and the growing trend for brand journalism that has emerged hand in hand with social media.

However, when it comes to implementing content marketing, strategy must be a key consideration and brands must ensure they are developing authentic content.

That content, initially at least, should be led by in-house departments who will have the innate passion of the brand, rather than agency teams.

The panel agreed on the increasing role of content in today’s digital marketing mix, suggesting that content is the thread that brings the brand vision together.

Brand marketing is about story telling

Outbrain COO David Sasson suggested that great brand marketing has long been about telling a story and while this has been difficult using tools like banner adverts, content marketing provides a better way to tell that story.

Arif Haq, manager for digital, technology and content at Gatorade suggested that content enriches the texture of a brand’s communications, and that it is through content that people can engage and interact with brands.

While content has enormous potential, it only offers real value and credibility if it is authentic warned the panel. Both agency and in-house marketers agreed that when it comes to ownership, content strategies should be led from in-house teams, who have the knowledge, brand passion and authenticity needed to best speak to their audiences. While in-house teams should lead, Kohlben Vodden at Oglivy One explained how agencies can then come on board to implement these strategies.

The glut of new technology platforms for blogging and social media, can make it tempting to dive into content without developing a proper strategy.

Blogging alone is not a content strategy

James Carson, head of digital marketing at Bauer Media reminded the audience that blogging by itself is not a content strategy, and equally you can-not be active on Twitter if you have nothing to say. You need a content plan.

The panel pointed to the importance of understanding your audience and creating content that caters to what they want rather than what the brand wants to convey.  The panel also advised that implementing measurable and targeted KPIs is critical to understanding success and what it looks like.

While the panel agreed that there will always be a place for independent journalism, content marketing has led to a rise in brand journalism. Brands can learn from publishers when it comes to content, with the panel suggesting marketers adopt a story-telling approach when it comes to content marketing.  Looking to the future, the panel reflected that content marketing clearly has an important role to play in continuing to tell brands’ never ending stories. Through a focus on authentic, strategic content – the panel agreed content is helping to fuel the future of digital marketing.

Stephanie Himoff, UK Managing Director, Outbrain.

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