Content marketing is a strategy, not a channel

Posted by: Clare Hill, MD, CMA

Over the past month, the CMA’s message to the wider marketing industry has been that content is a strategy and not a channel. Marketers are so used to working in a channel-focused world, with clean lines of distinction and clean measurement, that marketing by channel offers an easy way for a marketer to explain the overall marketing mix. As content strategy is channel-neutral, with multiple touch points, it is up to the content marketing industry to invest time and energy into educating marketers about successful case studies, inclusive of measurement. 

Our message is that the content must come first and that the channel comes second, and I urge you to inundate us with any exciting examples you may have which we can share.

At a Guardian Round table debate I took part in last week, the issue of measurement was one of the major topics of conversation. It was recognised that metrics such as ROI are top of the agenda and that demonstrable examples would drive further adoption of content marketing across the marketing industry. We discussed how marketers could also consider ROO (Return on Objectives), i.e. retention, consideration, engagement rather than direct sale ROI. Businesses such as Adobe are building systems to enable a cost-per-action measurement versus, for example, cost-per-view or cost-per-click. 

We also discussed the role of tone of voice for a brand and the senior customer experience manager for HSBC explained that it was essential to have a consistent customer journey across multiple touch points. He said that brand values must stay consistent but tone of voice can change, and that in order to respond to market dynamics it should be flexible and dynamic enough to change. It was encouraging when I chatted with Robin Hough, Editor of Guardian Media Networks and chair of the debate, to hear how “we could have gone on all day as content marketing is such an exciting topic right now.” The piece will be printed on April 21.

Following the panel debate Gideon Spanier, Media Editor for The Evening Standard, hosted for us at Advertising Week, we chatted about the rise of content marketing. Gideon recognised that many talented journalists are working in content marketing and that the industry was good news for journalism in general. Gideon is very well versed in content marketing and it’s interesting to know that he thinks journalists working in the space are not moving over to the dark side but that it’s “more akin to 50 Shades of Grey.”

In other gossip, I heard that a major entertainment conglomerate have changed their marketing strategy, with owned media and assets now being the lead channel, followed by earned, then paid media being used to amplify. This is a strong message for content marketing and whilst an entertainment business obviously has a wealth of owned assets to use, it’s still incredible to think that paid media will be used to amplify rather than lead. 

The CMA’s message is that content marketing is driving earned media and a fantastic example of this is the recent British Airways High Life Magazine’s Benedict Cumberbatch campaign which, unless you live in a cave, you have no doubt heard about. In the space of a few days, this generated more than a million impressions across Twitter and Buzzfeed, and has inadvertently created an entirely new revenue model for the industry! Free distribution magazine titles now being auctioned on eBay for £30+! Lord knows what’s going to happen when Cedar auction the coat he wore on the shoot! 

Posted in CMA blog
9thApr 2014

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