September 12, 2016
Businesses are told to produce more content, be more social, and try to connect with consumers on a personal level. Large companies with mega advertising budgets seem to churn out endless content. And launch thoughtful social media campaigns, but none of that is easy to do.
For the average company with a recent college graduate filling the position of Social Media Advisor. Today’s marketing landscape can look pretty bleak.
It seems as though blog posts are written and then go unread. Facebook campaigns gain no traction. All of the time and effort that is poured into thought leadership. Trying to connect with consumers through shared ideas can feel like wasted time. As a business owner it is incredibly frustrating to see zero ROI from content marketing.
There's a Disconnect
Vitaly Pecherskiy, marketing expert and COO of StackAdapt, saw the disconnect between content marketing and ROI and decided to do something about it. He became an expert in an up-and-coming industry called native advertising. If you are not familiar with native advertising — probably because it does a very good job of not being in your face like pop ups and flashing ads — here's the definition: Native advertising is placing content (like an article or video) on a media site that is written by a company. It uses something current or entertaining to showcase the product or service that the company is advertising.
This medium of communication with consumers is almost pitch perfect for the times that we live in. Consumers love content. Consumers love listicles and good videos. They share articles comprised completely of related funny gifs and almost no words. They don't really care if that content was generated by a staff writer or a company. In fact, if consumers are going to hear from a company, they would rather enjoy good content at the same time.
StackAdapt conducted research on purchasing behavior, finding that 55% of consumers made purchasing decisions based on content they had read online.
“A marketing campaign based on clicks might drive some near term revenue, but building a long term brand requires customer loyalty” says Pecherskiy. “Native Advertising gives companies the opportunity to place the content they write in front of people who want to read it. The connection that comes out of that is brand loyalty, return business. The exponential growth that comes out of an invested consumer base.”
But the question remains, how does content marketing become performance marketing? Unlike a pay per click ad, it is harder to see the traffic generation, web page impressions, or offline decision making that may result from the content.
Native Advertising Is a Relatively New Industry
So the performance aspect is an area that is still ironing out bugs. The goal one day is to have 100% visibility, including offline. To date no one has completely mastered, but significant steps have been made.
StackAdapt is able to connect with 45,000 media websites and place content on them. Giving companies the opportunity to customize their content marketing across thousands of different audiences. That piece alone is crucial for companies who have invested a lot of time into a blog, but have not been able to generate significant traffic. A native ad places content in front of audiences who are looking for the type of blogs or videos that many companies are already making.
Pecherskiy warns against “spray and pray” marketing, saying that content marketing through native advertising channels allows for sniper-like precision in targeting audiences. A company that knows its buyer personas can reach them with incredible accuracy and with the right message using native ads.
The New Focus: Customers
Perhaps the best aspect of this approach to marketing is that it changes the business to consumer relationship. Many experts agree that the worst way to acquire a customer is through offering a sale because it devalues the product from the very first interaction.
Companies like LivingSocial ran into this problem when customers who redeemed discounts for 30, 40, or 50% off did not become repeat customers. Native advertising circumvents that problem by making the first interaction with a would-be consumer, based on common values or shared experiences.
More and more media companies are opening their doors to native advertising. It's a move that is good for businesses and hopefully good for consumers who do not appreciate aggressive, in-your-face banner ads.
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