When advertising meets the future in TV or film, one of the most common ideas is that marketing has evolved to target you personally. In reality, the closest we have come so far is in the social media campaign conducted by Old Spice where the team created 187 real time personal video messages responding to questions posed by the general public and celebrities. It went viral creating a huge impact and if you’re in advertising, you’re probably thinking ‘I wish I’d created that’.
Today, this is becoming more possible for every marketer, regardless of resources and budget thanks to new and innovative content marketing technology. In fact, because of this innovation, the attempt at aligning our interests with the brands that want to connect with us just got a lot smarter and more sophisticated.
The world (wide web) is your oyster
The key for brands wanting to connect with users in such a way is content. Often this can be in the form of how to guides or information that creates value to the consumer, which can often be more authentic and personal compared to a direct sales pitch. The challenge for many brands is that the sheer weight of content needed to maintain a regular dialogue with consumers would be too onerous, with new content required on an almost continuous basis. Which is why the web can help to fill this shortfall.
The internet offers a wealth of information, from media websites like the BBC to independent bloggers. For marketers wanting to bring their brand to the table, taking advantage of the wide variety of content available is imperative if they are to remain relevant to their audience.
In the past marketers have relied heavily on behavioural tracking to ensure ads are targeted at customers with similar interests. In comparison, content marketing doesn’t employ trackers, but instead focuses on creating content that consumers want to read or find out more about, as well as help consumers find out about a product or service in-directly. Technology can now be employed to find out what the hot topics are so that marketers can act on this information and deploy relevant content. In addition to brand owned content, marketers will also be able to pool social content and indeed any other content from across the digital eco-system that will help them to connect with consumers with an authentic and relevant voice.
It’s next generation marketing. But for brands wanting to maximise the effective use of content, there are a number of important things to consider when choosing technology to implement content marketing on a larger scale.
When you consider the myriad of ways in which we connect to the internet, it is important to ensure you have a strategy that works across all platforms so that desktop, mobiles and tablets are all optimised accordingly. Our own research revealed that there is a spike in mobile usage during the leisure hours of 7-10pm, while PC usage fell dramatically.
There is also industry research that suggests that consumers are more sensitive to irrelevant ads on mobile devices, which makes the case for providing mobile ads that provide useful and valuable information through the use of content marketing more compelling. It’s also worth ensuring that the technology you are using offers a mobile solution that spans both Android and iOS devices.
Making content work for you
An effective content strategy, ultimately powered by a robust technological solution, should enable the discovery and curation of content that is topical to your brand including brand owned sites and destinations, affiliated sites, specific authority sites and social destinations like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Being able to sort this content and rank it according to relevancy, timeliness and social popularity is also another way that marketers can ensure that content works for them.
Once brands have discovered relevant content, it is then time to put it to good use. For content marketing to provide the most benefit, marketers need to ensure a seamless activation directly into dynamic content-driven ads that span display, mobile, and social destinations.
So what does this look like for the consumer? A good example is Proctor & Gamble who and its Mean Stinks campaign as part of the activity for its Secret deodorant brand. The campaign used PR and advertising, and centered around the theme of combating bullying. It included, amongst other tactics, the creation of a Facebook site, an app where users could pass on positive ‘graffiti’ messages, and also tied into content relating to its brand ambassador and provided links to counseling centres. Consumers could still buy the product and t-shirts featuring anti-bullying messages, but this wasn’t at the core of the activity, it was more about creating content that would connect with Secret’s target audience. Based on case studies of the campaign, commentators have responded positively to the level of engagement created as a result.
By using technology to understand emerging content and social trends at scale, and having the ability to activate a brand’s owned content, authentic social information and supporting content from across the web, content marketing really can help brands connect with consumers in new ways.
With more marketers discovering the benefits of content activation it represents a real integration of advertising and editorial like never before. Moreover, with today’s technology enabling marketers to pull an individual user’s own words directly into an ad, you could very well find your own tweet or blog the subject of an advert targeted directly at you. Now that’s what I call a personalised advert.
Assaf Henkin is the co-founder of Kontera.