If One In Five Content Engagement Is A Problem, Let's Pray We Will All Become Victims

And lo it came to pass that another publisher suffering from ad blocking -- in this case regional newspaper group Johnston Press -- has launched a native advertising service. Following a three-month trial, which offered click-through rates eight times higher than a traditional advertising campaign, its Voice Local service is up and running. The main premise is that advertisers can get away from ad blockers and have their content placed within the editorial flow -- clearly marked as "sponsored," of course.

On the same day the announcement is made there is a very interesting article by iProspect in Marketing that looks at the impact of content marketing -- of which native advertising is a highly important strand, of course. Aside from making the point that brands are going to maintain or increase their spend -- which added up to $135m last year -- there are two key takeaways. Roughly four in five of all brands are engaged in content marketing, yet only one in five measure its effectiveness. That's a telling point right there, but the one that gets the headline baffled me slightly. Just one in five pieces of digital content are engaged with, research shows -- meaning that brands need to have a deeper understanding of consumers.

Now, getting to know your customer better is never a bad thing, and turning that understanding into content that improves engagement is another wonderful thing. But here's my question. Who wouldn't dream of an engagement rate of one in five? I know if I were paying for native advertising spots, for example, and one in five viewers became readers, listeners or viewers, then I think I'd probably be very happy. If I were placing articles through blogger outreach, posting on forums or sharing on social and I got a 20% response rate, I reckon I'd be over the moon.

I'll confide in you -- if I tweeted content that hit a 5% engagement rate, I'd be very happy. In fact, when I was talking with a very well-known cosmetics company the other day, they were pretty overjoyed with hitting an average around that mark. So if one in twenty on social is a good engagement rate, then one in five has to be pretty amazing, doesn't it?

I think you only have to look at advertisers expecting a click-through rate of just one in a thousand or so from display to realise how much stronger content is, whether it's organic or native.

So the alarm bells should probably be ringing that only one in five is measuring the success of their content marketing campaigns. I have to say, however, that the bells that ring out to me from a one in five engagement rate are those of victory,  not alarm.

1 comment about "If One In Five Content Engagement Is A Problem, Let's Pray We Will All Become Victims".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 18, 2015 at 8:55 a.m.

    Sean, you ask which other channel wouldn't die for a one in five engagement rate for its ads. Assuming that "legacy media" count as  channels, their ad engagement rates---at least for TV and, especially, magazines, are considerably higher. Indeed ad receptivity as well as ad recall studies frequently show that magazine readers are the most engaged with ads, with a typical recall for P4C ads being around 50%. While TV scores somewaht lower. Despite the assumption held and proclaimed in some quarters, that nobody watches TV ads, the fact is that 30-45% of the viewers---depending on the methodology----can prove they saw an average commercial and roughly 20% remember the ads' basic selling proposition.

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