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Op-Ed: Content marketing executions require orientation beyond media

By Michael Krebs     Jun 9, 2013 in Business
When executing a content marketing campaign, marketers have to commit to supporting the content and to abandoning their media planning orientation.
In a blog entry for PandoDaily, Shane Snow, chief creative officer at Contently, argues that content marketing - and its shiny new moniker, "native advertising," has now become a mainstream offering among advertising agencies and public relations shops.
Infographic of the GE Capital middle market perspective in the Slate Roadshow For Growth program.
Infographic of the GE Capital middle market perspective in the Slate Roadshow For Growth program.
Slate magazine
Snow's assertion that content marketing has become more of a "fixture" in digital media highlights a considerable challenge, as media-oriented marketing teams - eager to implement a content-oriented approach - have yet to pivot from their media planning perspective and to adapt to a content-minded execution.
While it can be argued that content marketing has been around for decades in print media, it has become a more widespread practice in digital media. Having first appeared meaningfully in 2007, "native" and modular custom-published editorial is now expected to move at digital media's frenetic pace - and the corners that are cut are often the foundations of a decidedly more complex program.
Digital marketers are working to fit a round peg in a square circle, and they are not listening to the howls coming from the individuals most vested in the content marketing execution. Additionally, corporate communications teams, many of whom claim digital expertise of their own, frequently attempt to hijack the content marketing experience, striving to enforce an earned media doctrine within a owned-to-paid media experience.
"Content marketing isn't for media amateurs - it's for professionals," freelance copywriter Barry Feldman wrote in a blog post for Social Media Explorer.
While Feldman is right, the "professionals" remain tethered to the tenets of their profession. In order to execute a content marketing campaign correctly, marketers need to wed themselves to a content strategy.
I have been executing digital content marketing programs for six years, and the challenges exist not in the ideation but in the execution. Marketers struggle to affix ROI (return-on-investment) markers on a custom publishing program, insisting often on measuring the program's success through the prism of media planning - click through rates, impressions, traffic drivers, etc. While these markers have their importance, the investment in the content is placed squarely on the sidelines.
The publishers offering the environments for the branded content - either in the CMS (content management system) as "native" or within custom modules - are compelled by marketers to provide all of the heavy lifting, in terms of meeting the ROI markers conjured by the marketers. The investment in the content is abandoned by the marketers in favor of media-oriented reports and metrics, and this has its consequences - most often in missed deadlines and in shabby approvals of the material at hand.
Additionally, the marketers - and their respective partners in corporate communications - do nothing to support the content: they don't have their executives tweet it; they don't share it with their customers; they don't write companion material that drives to it; they don't paste it on their social channels. In short, it is treated as any advertising program is: it is negotiated, bought, executed, and ignored.
And this remains the challenge of the "fixture" that is digital content marketing.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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