We agree that the digital space requires a different approach to advertising and we are committed to the idea of getting our story out to our tribe without using the stadium microphone. But what is content advertising? If it looks like jargon and sounds like jargon, then it must be jargon, right? Well, yes and no. The world we live in requires new language. For a while people were using the term “storytelling” to broach this subject, but that’s just too touchy feely for what we are actually attempting to describe.
Content advertising is a mashup of two well-established antecedents, content marketing and native advertising.
Content advertising is a mashup of two well-established antecedents, content marketing and native advertising. It attempts to join the strengths of the two separate models into a new disciplined approach to digital advertising.
In the simplest terms, content marketing works differently from other forms of advertising because it offers up a story instead of a product or service.
The content marketing model has been used effectively in business-to-business marketing circles for the past five years or so. This is a fairly well-beaten path and there is lots of reading you can do to get your head around how it works.
The name is apt; you market content instead of products and services with the understanding that the content will create a lasting impression on consumers that will lead them to buy your products and services.
If it sounds like you are asking your customers to take another step, you are. Think of it in terms of dating. If you walk up to someone and ask for a kiss, you might get slapped. But if you lure someone into an engaging conversation at a bar, you have a better than average chance of snogging, and you will very likely end up with their phone number.
The content marketing approach is particularly powerful in the search-based marketplace for online services, which is where it first gained traction. The idea here is that if you are selling a service connected to an expertise, an effective way of going about that is demonstrating your competence up front.
In content marketing, an organization invests significant internal and external resources in pillar content, namely a story that leverages its core expertise and has intrinsic value for consumers. If you sell recruiting services for businesses, for example, your pillar content could be an e-book on the best practices for hiring. You publish the pillar content and then engage a long, well-strategized marketing campaign that pushes the content.
Stray Dogs from Minka on Vimeo.
There are a number of benefits to this approach that make it more effective than other types of online marketing. First, you’re building trust in your brand and you’re establishing that trust with the Google bots, who are seeing all of the backlinks to your pillar content as confirmation that you are an expert in your field. So you are simultaneously reaching customers and establishing a stronghold in the search landscape.
In terms of workflow, it also has benefits. Your marketing team engages in a strategic project that results in a piece of creative pillar content and then it executes a tactical campaign aimed at driving traffic to the content and converting users. You use two powerful characteristics of online marketing separately: the web as a powerful multi-media publishing platform that allows any team with in-house creative to make great stuff efficiently and cheaply; and the web as an automated playing field to deploy tactical tools like analytics, event-tracking, e-mail marketing, social media, and paid distribution to reach consumers where they make buying decisions.
The drawback to this approach is also obvious. If you are selling hamburgers or jewelry or clothing, it’s not getting the product in front of people with a sense of immediacy. And, if you are a small business, you likely don’t have the bandwidth or budget to undertake a traditional content marketing program.
Like any good hybrid approach, our version of content advertising is designed to combine the most useful elements of each established model and apply them appropriately in situations that require them. At Vibethink, we’ve built a successful business creating websites that work as marketing platforms for digital-forward businesses and along the way we’ve learned that behind every successful initiative, there’s a clearly articulated story.
In its simplest terms, content advertising is about uncovering and crystallizing that story, then publishing and distributing it in multiple formats over multiple channels to improve search marketing and advertising results. It’s about creating content that reflects a deeper brand identity AND catches the eyes of customers consistently and systematically.
We break the process into three phases: strategy and discovery, content creation, and distribution and analysis. Creating good content can be expensive and difficult, so it’s important that when you spend time and energy on it, you get the most bang for your buck. It makes sense to spend extra time on the front end to hone in on a strategy that can govern the work and then setting up the distribution plan so the campaign can be analyzed and optimized.
We think content advertising is a powerful solution because in addition to getting your message to online readers it improves search rankings, creates a valuable portfolio of branded content, and implements a digital distribution program that can be improved and expanded over time.
What’s even more exciting about content advertising is that it empowers business owners to tell their stories. Instead of buying a ticket to ride from an ad rep, you’re running a marketing department with a team of digital experts riding shotgun.
It’s about creating content that reflects a deeper brand identity AND catches the eyes of customers consistently and systematically.