How Will Content Marketing Change You?
The IAB has said 70 percent viewability is what advertisers should accept as the best possible ad viewability. Robert Rose wants to know why "we're willing to accept a 30 percent tax on our media buy just because that's as good as it's gonna get."
Rose was keynoting the FUSE Enterprise summit in Philadelphia, speaking to marketing executives who were there to learn about branded content technologies. And it quickly became clear that viewability and blocking are major digital blockades that just don't apply to content marketing.
Content Outside the Marketing Box
It used to be, half of my advertising works, I just don't know which half, explained Rose. Now, he said, it's "half of my advertising is blocked, I just don't know which half."
And the answer to that, according to Rose, is content. Because a well-developed content marketing program is truly opt-in — they're choosing to invest that time with you — and not reliant on advertising units that could be shut down by everything from GDPR to the Web browsers themselves.
However, the kid of content that it takes to get that kind of buy-in, is not the kind of content most marketers are creating.
"We're still thinking of content as an extension of our other activities," said Rose. "We should be thinking about it as a product in itself, as a thing that provides value in order to attract customers."
In the world of controlled-circulation B2B publishing that "free" publications like Target Marketing operate in, I often think of what we do as trading our content for our audience's time and attention. Even though the content (like this blog) does not directly generate revenue, it generates the audience (yes, that's you) our sponsors want to reach, and hopefully a few readers who want to pay for things like our Content Marketing Master Classes.
The content is a product, even though it's available for free.
Rose is saying that's he attitude all content marketers need to adopt as well.
But it's hard to do, because unlike publishers who've been operating like this for decades, content marketers still think of content marketing the same way they think of paid advertising.
Why Marketing Tech Becomes a Spam Gun
Conway's law: "Organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures."
That's an axiom from the world of software development, but Rose sees it applying to marketers, too. "We design strategy not by where we want to go, but rather where the capabilities of technology tell us we can go."
The gag is, if you can break out of that box, the technology is available today to enable just about anything you dream up.
"If you can dream it, I promise you the technology is there to help you develop it," said Rose. "The technology today is that good; our capabilities have been expanded."
But like the new leads from Glengarry Glennross, we just don't always know what to do with it.
"Most people who buy marketing automation systems simply use it as a spam gun," said Rose, noting that Only 26 percent of marketers with marketing automation systems fully use them.
How to Build a Tech Stack That Works
One of the main obstacles here is that implementing good systems, and good tech, and good systems for setting up the good tech, is all time consuming and requires cross-departmental communication. Cooperation, even!
Rose recommended two things to get the technology and process piece of this in-line so you can move forward into an era of content that
First, think about what parts of the content technology and process need to be most flexible, and which parts need to be more thoroughly thought-out and approved.
The layered approach above tries to address that. According to Rose,
"We should be trying to move the content creation as close to the customer as we possibly can. ... Content-driven experiences are today's media buys. Flexible, lightweight and even disposable."
On the other hand, your core data pieces need to be stable and fit into your copany's IT infrastructure. These need to e done methodically and involve all the stakeholders. The system will likely be picked by the IT department, not content.
"It's not about understanding what IT's strategy is," said Rose. Marketing and IT "need to have one strategy, a combined, joined strategy that develops the capabilities both need. ... It's not just an understanding, it's a developed and joined strategy."
With that in mind, Rose recommended these seven steps to choose technology that enables your strategy, rather than forcing you o chase its capabilities"
- Validate your need. Use best practices, case studies, etc. as input, but develop your actual strategy and change it only if and when it needs to change for strategic reasons — not technical reasons.
- Compile the business requirements. "Not just a wish list," explained Rose, "but the actual requirements to meet the strategy you just created."
- Determine the focal needs. What are the unique attributes you need to do what you want to do?
- Once you've identified those, then create your technology shortlist. You need the info above to do this successfully. There should not be more than 5 vendors on this list. If there's more, you haven't identified your specific needs thoroughly enough.
- Create a service provider list that can help you do this. rose highly recommends getting the help: "You cannot do this on your own," he said. "A great CMS system, implemented poorly is a bad CMS system."
- Conduct information exchanges with vendors and industry experts before the RFP.
- Then conduct the RFP, but make it scenario-based. The vendors should be able to demonstrate to you that their solution fits your focal and business requirements. "If you do all that," said Rose, "the choice should become obvious."
As you build your content marketing strategy and look for the tech stack to enable it, think about more than just how your content is going to change the market. Think about how this content journey is going to change you, your processes, your marketing.