Last week there was an article in The New York Times, “How Sponsored Content Is Becoming King In A Facebook World.” What makes this discussion interesting is it reminds me of similar conversations ten years ago. In 2006 the golden opportunity consisted of gaming the search algorithms by optimizing content through SEO. Now, SEO is common practice, but alone it is not enough to guarantee discovery on even the best content. With Google reporting over 60 trillion webpages in existence, it is no wonder that the hottest topic in digital, content marketing, needs a new ally.
The main solution to breaking through the clutter is effective distribution and amplification. Some old tactics like email still work incredibly well, yet new methods like Native Advertising are becoming the rising star. While native advertising as a format is nothing new, the rethinking of it by huge players in social media, have brought it new life. Yet, even with these advancements by the new tech leaders, mainstream adoption still lags behind traditional display. What is even more astonishing is the fact that tactics like the banner ads that simply don’t work on mobile still get a huge chunk of media dollars. So what’s holding advertiser’s back from going all in on utilizing the native advertising solution?
After reading his book, I asked Geoffrey Colon, author of Disruptive Marketing, about his take on the content-native trend and the adoption lag. Colon feels the world ignores traditional ads, mainly because the “spray and pray” model of finding mass impressions ends up equating to minimal engagement. Yet, has not fully jumped into content marketing and native distribution because the numbers are harder to justify.
“One of the pressures in marketing these days is a massive need to show ROI and efficiently scale on command. I know, it’s terrible that marketing has turned so analytical when it needs to be a hybrid of 50/50 analytical and creative to be successful. However, because of this pressure to perform, ad units that are focused on engagement and building a relationship with a customer are taken with a grain of salt by most performance-driven advertisers. This is why native has had a difficult time being adopted en masse.” - Geoffrey Colon
The reality remains that it is much easier to create and scale mediocre banner ads whose KPIs are fairly consistent. It is much harder to predict if the content you create is actually good and engaging to the audience you are targeting. Facebook as a social-native distribution channel, for instance, can cost as little as a quarter of a penny per click on a super engaging boosted post. It can also cost up to dollars a click for something that lacks engagement.
Creating quality content is intimidating for many, yet marketers need to make the mind shift to realize that those predictable impressions conceived by display are in fact limiting the impact between the brand and the customer. With quality, value and precise targeting being essential attributes of content marketing and native amplification, creation won’t always be fast, but it will be effective.