Content Marketing

7 Feb

David Germano, VP of Magnetic Content Studios, spoke to us about content marketing, a new form of relaying advertising messages not through ads, but through content that audiences seek out. The idea is that as consumers become more savvy about media consumption and get better at avoiding advertisements, the best way to get their attention is not to put yourself in front of the content that they want to see, but actually become the content they seek out. Currently, this is being done by marketers like Germano by creating media that is engaging and informative while separating brand messages from the content.
The media property, owned by the brand, creates content that attracts the brand’s target audience. The content often tangentially involves the brand’s product category, but never mentions the brand itself. These brand-specific messages come through in the traditional ad spaces, in sponsorships, and other subtle ways that do not interfere directly with the content.
While this seems to be working well for the companies that use this type of marketing, I question its effectiveness as we move forward. For one, the way Germano described his media properties, it sounded like the brand messages were so far in the background that they would barely influence consumer decisions at all. While this quells criticisms of journalists who say content created by advertisers could never be objective, it seems that the return on investment of creating an entire media property only to have the brand appear every now-and-then, away from the audience’s point of focus, would have an abysmal return on investment.
So far this approach has actually proven cheaper than advertising in traditional media, but I’m not sure how long that will be the case. Currently, traditional media is, in my opinion, over-priced, and this type of content marketing can be, according to Germano, also over-priced. As these price disparities correct themselves over time, I believe both models will have to change. While content marketing is very successful now, its model will have to change in the future to allow it to still be profitable.
My only other concern is that by creating media properties for each brand, the already saturated mediums they are competing in will become even more saturated. Because the barriers to entry are almost zero for this type of promotion, there is little to stop every brand from having its own property, which could easily create a clutter that audiences will simply tune out.
Still, the idea and implementation have, so far, proven to be successful, and I believe content marketing has a brighter future than many other forms of promotion that exist today. While it will have to change to remain profitable, that goes for every other medium as well. And as a consumer, the idea of brands focusing more on what I want is always a good thing.

-Joseph Simmons


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