Understanding Distribution Strategies Key To Successful Content Marketing

By most estimates, native advertising is on a growth trajectory. A forecast from eMarketer, published in March, estimates that native digital display ad spend in the U.S. will increase 36.2% this year to reach $22.09 billion.

If the forecast bears out, native will comprise more than half, 52.9%, of all display ad spending in the U.S. Most experts consider content marketing the meta category that sits above native advertising, branded content, sponsored content, or whatever you want to call it.

So native is a subset of content marketing. And to get a handle on native, marketers, publishers, and third-parties must first understand content marketing. The Copenhagen-based Native Advertising Institute (NAI) recently published an ebook to help them address this market. The resource also includes about 300 technology vendors in social media, influencer marketing, and ad tech solutions.

Chad Pollitt, partner and VP of audience for NAI, authored the ebook and is also author of "The Native Advertising Manifesto." Native Insider spoke with Pollitt.

NI: What problems do marketers have with content marketing?

Pollitt: If they spend $1 on content creation, they spend $5 on distribution. For content marketers, it’s the opposite. I make the argument that from a macro-economic perspective, priorities and budgets are messed up. The build-it-and-they-will-come, inbound-only philosophy is extremely difficult to pull off today.

Today, we are in an era of content surpluses. In that world, how do you stand out? With earned or paid media.

Content marketers prioritize the top of the  funnel content vs. middle or bottom.

NI: What are the most important points in the ebook?

Pollitt: The core takeaway from the ebook is defining the native advertising technology landscape. There are vendors just for marketers, media buyers, publishers, and software developers. If you create mobile apps and you want to implement native through an ad network or an exchange, there are SDKs [software development kits] to help you produce a mobile app that contains native advertising.

For ad-tech vendors, the ebook defines their field of play. It shows all the different categories and where they play well with other vendors and where they don’t.

The problem is that most of these vendors don’t cater to content marketers; they cater to media buyers. And media buyers are beholden to pay-per-click, CPM and cost-per-click  metrics. But content marketers want engagement.

NI: What do you advocate in that case?

Pollitt: Native ad tech vendors need to cater to engagement and content marketing metrics. Metrics around cost per engagement, bounce rate, and conversion are needed.

NI: Publishers need better measurement tools for content marketing.

Pollitt: There’s a small contingent of tech companies that cater to publishers specifically. For example, Nudge measures long-form sponsored content for brands. MediaRadar tracks sales from native, non-native, and sponsorships.

A good content studio at a publisher is no different than a good content marketing team at a brand—they do the same things. All the takeaways for brand marketers are the same for the publishers’ brand studios.

NI: Where does the content marketing budget come from?

Pollitt: The budget for distribution of content should be as close to content production, strategy, and creative as possible. If not, it needs its own team within the content team.

What I’m finding is that brands don’t have the budget—it’s in a silo. Or, budget is all over the place. It might be a pay-per-click budget or media buying budget, and then everything is based on clicks. There’s a disconnect, and it leads to the crap that we see at the bottom of the pages of many publishers.

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