As we head into the Thanksgiving break (or Thanksgivukkah, the hybrid holiday that replaces your mashed potatoes with latkes), "scale" is a sort of dangerous term in mixed company. But it's a highly relevant one when we're talking about the common constraint for both content marketing and native advertising, two approaches that have exploded in popularity recently.
The common barriers to scale in both approaches are sourcing a consistent supply of quality content, and distributing it to those are inclined to consume it. Considering that both barriers are surmountable—given a solid strategy, budget and marketing operations integration—this problem shouldn't be too formidable. Certainly less formidable than stomaching turkey leftovers for a week.
Content Development at Scale
In Hexagram's recently-released report on native advertising, 66% of brands using native advertising generate the content themselves, while about a quarter rely on support from publishers and/or agencies.
Brands exerting a degree control over the content creation process is understandable - the brand is the best judge of a piece of a content's relevance to an audience, whether it's on message, and safe. But delivering enough content to meet its audience's appetite might put strains on a brand's internal media development team. That's when publisher and agency partners can step in.
The content throughput issue isn't limited to native advertising. For brands without the resources to staff newsrooms like Coca-Cola and Nabisco it can be a struggle to keep its content channels well-fed. Content marketing agencies and licensed media partners, such as large online and hybrid publishers, can also help pick up the slack.
Distribution: Pay to Play
All the best content in the world will fail to deliver value to advertisers if it's never consumed.
We've been beating this drum for a while on this blog, but we're simply relaying a common sentiment among brand marketers. Case in point: at a recent event (the Rise of Brand Journalism conference at the Forbes HQ in New York), the marketing heads of GE and Goldman Sachs suggested that native advertising is "simply a new way...to get stories about...brands distributed" and that scaling the process efficiently was their primary concern.
Although native advertising is the hot vehicle for distributing brand content to online audiences, the approach doesn't necessarily have to be so narrowly defined. Most marketers have budgets for standard and rich media spend. The same sorts of content that brands develop for their owned and earned media—videos, articles, interactive games, and more—can be embedded in more traditional ad units. (Here's an example, a campaign that Flite client Martini Media put together for Bentley)
Considering the size of traditional digital media plans, this paid media publishing approach can deliver much scale to content marketing efforts than native advertising, which typically has to be arranged on a publisher-by-publisher basis.
Another panelist at the Forbes conference lamented:
“We create content and are forced to buy advertising to drive people to it."
- Mark Himmelsbach, COO of IPG Mediabrands Publishing
As we engorge ourselves this Thursday, we know we do so in order to fuel ourselves for the dreaded Black Friday shopping day, in which we will part with our hard-earned money to endure absolute madness. With that, we nod in sympathy with Mr. Himmelsbach.