Over the course of the past decade, as our digital universe has become ubiquitous, two significant forces have had a major impact on brands’ marketing strategies:
1) the proliferation of content creation enabled by technology across multiple platforms, mediums, and devices
2) a growing consumer base that has been inundated with advertising messages and interruptive experiences throughout their lifetime.
While Marketers are getting smarter about the content they create, the opportunity to distribute that content to the right audience in a way that creates brand loyalty and/or influences consumer action has not yet been fully realized.
The Content Challenge and Opportunity
There have been many factors at play over the past few years that led to the current content marketing challenge. Brands are increasing investment in content creation as they move towards content driven Marketing strategies to impact consumer behaviour.
At the same time, consumer consumption habits have become extremely fragmented due to consumer behaviour changes and ‘on demand’ distribution’ across any device. This intersection has presented a serious challenge to a Marketer’s ability to create and develop meaningful connections with consumers.
While all types of content (written, video, audio, etc.) become exponentially easier to create across a wide spectrum of channels and mediums (including the ‘always on’ mobile device), consumer attention is becoming increasingly scarce.
At the same time, Social platforms that have built wide scale audiences continue to benefit from network effects that exist in the market while they refine their user experiences and the content that is distributed across their platforms.
As such, a lot of consumer attention has been consolidated within a few ‘walled garden’ platforms. This leaves a gaping hole of people who connect with content that is not limited to (or in addition to) these few media platforms.
Said another way, while Marketers are getting smarter about the content they create, the opportunity to distribute that content to the right audience in a way that creates brand loyalty and/or influences consumer action has not yet been fully realized.
As a result of these colliding market forces, the old ‘build it and they will come’ mantra is no longer a viable strategy for a marketer seeking to build and connect with a desired audience at scale on the open web.
There is a saying, "If a tree falls in a forest and nobody's around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Marketers need to ask themselves the same question about their content.
Paid content distribution must be more closely connected with content creation, and a heavier investment in distribution is necessary to find, build and develop desired audiences.
Whereas, in digital advertising, it is the inverse. For every $5 spent on content creation, only $1 is spent on distribution. Therein lies the opportunity for Marketers to more effectively and efficiently connect with audiences.
Television has been perfecting the practice of content creation and distribution for decades, and being a mature practice, has had the benefits of developing attribution models that have given Marketers comfort in their ability to build brands as well as impact consumer behavior.
An even bigger opportunity exists for Marketers to build meaningful connections with consumers across the digital universe.
For this to become a reality, paid content distribution must be more closely connected with content creation, and a heavier investment in distribution is necessary to find, build and develop desired audiences.
Tying these two pieces together - content creation and content distribution - will enable marketers to travel the “last mile”.
Making the Connection between Content and Audience
The Ad Tech and Marketing Tech industries have made incredible strides in the last decade to improve a marketer’s ability to identify a consumer and reach them based on their interests and behavior. Brands are using these insights to create better content and the data pipes have been built and continue to be developed to appropriately activate audiences to connect and engage with.
In response to consumer rejection of poor advertising practices and other industry forces, user-friendly formats have emerged offering better content experiences that are not disruptive to the user journey.
But the last piece of the puzzle that we haven’t quite captured yet is forging the ultimate connection between the right piece of content and the consumer who willingly wants to consume it.
We have gotten really good at profiling users and understanding likes, dislikes, behaviors etc. and then finding them in the right environments. But we still have to master smarter distribution strategies that match relevant content to the needs of specific users.
Tying these two pieces together - content creation and content distribution - will enable marketers to travel the “last mile” in linking the right content with the right consumer, at the right moment in time.
As Frank Sinatra once said, you can’t have one without the other.