However, there is one problem: How do brands find the scale and ability to reach millions of people with the content that they produce?
“Content plus reach” is the answer to the perennial problem of how to amplify content marketing programs that work. Brands must move beyond their websites’ domains to reach the full Web, both mobile and display.
From social media to blogs to their own websites, marketers are increasingly adopting an integrated approach to using owned, earned, and paid media, with each channel mutually reinforcing the others. Across all media channels, content is growing rapidly in importance.
In fact, research shows that B2B marketers plan to spend 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing this year, up from double digits in 2012. This increase comes as companies notice a consumer preference for original content over traditional advertising. While it is common for brands to develop content for their owned and earned channels, it is still virtually nonexistent in paid media, and especially in display advertising.
Why is the time ripe for extending content into display advertising? Why weren’t brands doing this before? The main reason is that recent advances in ad serving and content distribution technologies have truly opened the door for online advertising to be a viable channel for content marketing.
Display ads can now serve as content management systems (CMS) that act like mini websites full of functionality for users to engage with. This allows advertisers to view ads as vessels or containers in which to put content that is trending in the moment — breaking news, recipes, how-to articles, social media feeds, videos, store finders, maps, and more.
Content-rich advertising fixes the main issue with traditional display advertising — namely, that display ads are disruptive and force users to click through to another site in order to engage with a brand. This is a problem because, given the abysmal industry average click-through rates, it’s obvious that consumers do not like clicking on ads. Research conducted by comScore revealed that two-thirds of Internet users do not click on any display ads over the course of a month and that only 16% of internet users account for 80% of all clicks. 72% are not comfortable clicking at all.
By extending content into paid media, ads can be a dynamic vehicle for brand storytelling. Users will be able to engage with brands and have a memorable experience right in an ad itself. This approach aligns paid media with the new marketing values already being applied in owned and earned media to appeal to consumers, increase brand engagement, and overcome poor ad performance.
Instead of simply clicking through to a brand site or landing page, users can engage with brand content directly in an ad unit without leaving the site. This represents a powerful shift in the way brands engage with consumers — a shift that can’t be ignored as content marketing continues to grow in importance.