3 Content Marketing Tips to Improve Your Brand Story Distribution
Content marketing has come a long way during the past decade. Today, most brands have established content at the heart of their marketing strategies, and they’re investing heavily in the distribution of their branded stories across digital channels. In fact, in 2020, about $53 billion — nearly two-thirds of all digital display ad spend — will go toward native advertising as brands look to ensure the stories they tell are connecting with the audiences they serve.
While it’s good to see a strong level of investment within the branded content and native distribution space, many brands are still missing opportunities to make the most of their storytelling efforts. The market is rife with distribution options, many of which provide pseudo “native” executions that aren’t truly integrated into a publisher’s content. Couple that with the ever-shifting data and privacy landscape, and there is significant room for confusion and waste. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three ways content marketers can make their storytelling more effective in 2020.
The Rise of Self-Service
Traditionally, because quantifying content’s value was perceived as a challenge, true native advertising on the open web was reserved for major brands with large budgets (i.e., money to spend on hard-to-verify ROI). Thus, the structures put in place around native advertising — including a heavy emphasis on managed services and minimum spends — were designed to suit big-brand needs. But that notion has changed over the last few years. The recent rise of self-service ad tech for the open web has made native formats more accessible for marketers looking to meaningfully measure and engage with their audiences through content.
Self-service offerings can increase advertiser control and eliminate barriers to entry in terms of spend. As the self-serve ad tech market for native continues to grow and evolve, marketers will need to become discerning about which opportunities warrant their time and ad spend. After all, marketers can only log into and execute campaigns on so many different platforms. In 2020, content marketers may need to focus on platforms that offer unique value propositions, such as unique ad formats, inventory, or data.
Contextual Targeting Is King
The use of third-party audience data had already become troublesome for marketers due to increasing privacy regulations and restricted ability to track the near half of the U.S. population that operates on Safari and iPhones. Then, Google delivered a death knell by announcing that Chrome will drop third-party cookies altogether in the next two years. In this changing landscape, contextual targeting has reemerged as the primary way for brands to make meaningful connections with their audiences without the use of intrusive third-party data.
Content marketers need to take a critical look at their targeting tactics in 2020 and determine whether layering third-party data onto campaigns drives enough performance lift to justify the added costs and regulatory headaches. Increasingly, we’re going to find that data-driven efforts work best when first-party data is layered on top of contextual relevance.
Better Measurement, Better Optimization
Content marketers already know that good storytelling is critical to driving engagement and consideration, but few have a strong handle on the actual impact of their efforts. Now is the time to get more serious about branded content measurement in order to better fine-tune content and distribution strategies. It’s impossible for brands to truly maximize their content performance across channels, unless they know what is working and what is not — at a granular level.
In 2020, with advancements in technology and increased reporting transparency, marketers will be able to shift their focus to stronger, data-driven strategies that leverage robust metrics well beyond clickthrough rates to inform a more personalized approach to content development.
Content marketing is undoubtedly a maturing strategy, and 2020 will bring changes that continue to level the playing field for brands of all sizes looking to maximize the effectiveness of their media campaigns. From streamlining their tech stacks to enhancing their data-driven strategies and taking advantage of performance transparency, content marketers have a lot to look forward to this year.