Content marketing continues to grow as a particularly productive item in digital marketers’ toolkits. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey of B2C marketers—86% of whom use content marketing—55% plan to increase their content marketing budgets over the next twelve months. And with good reason.

A Custom Content Council survey found that 61% of polled consumers feel better about a company that provides useful content, and are more inclined to buy from them. And in the UK, a Content Marketing Association poll turned up equally sanguine results:

  • 68% of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in.
  • 82% like reading content from brands when it is relevant.
  • “Content marketing has a positive impact upon my purchase decisions”: 43% agree, 20% disagree
  • “Content marketing makes me more positive towards the brand itself”: 48% agree, 14% disagree

However, among the many challenges facing advertisers as they ramp up their content marketing efforts—measuring impact, operationalizing the sourcing of content, budget/resources—perhaps the most vexing one is "getting the eyeballs." After all, what's the point of spending tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on an article series, a video, or an app, if the only people who are going to see it are those who regularly visit your website or follow you actively on social media?

Traditional advertising doesn't work very well: display ads that rely on clicks to drive traffic to a landing page have performed poorly for quite some time. Those few users who do click aren’t necessarily the most attractive, engaged audience. Social media is always hit-or-miss, and depends on the highly-unpredictable virality of the type of content that's being promoted. And waiting for search traffic engenders long lead times, as well as a dependence on somehow setting branded content apart from a crowded field.

Fortunately, paid media publishing can help solve the content distribution problem. Let’s look at the realities of the current content marketing approach, and see how paid media publishing addresses them:

  1. Content marketing is a powerful vehicle for engaging potential customers and shaping their perception of a brand.

  2. Content marketing exclusively hosted on owned and earned media can suffer from low visibility.

  3. Driving traffic to marketing content via ads can be expensive, since display ads are remarkably poor at driving visitors to visit a site.

Marketing Content Can Be Shared in the Ad Itself

With paid media publishing, the ad isn’t a teaser imploring users to click. It’s a space for hosting a wide range of content that can be consumed in situ. Ads can feature videos, photos, articles, polls, and far more elaborate functionalities, allowing users to safely engage with an ad and its message without interrupting their site browsing experience.

In scenarios like this one, interactions with the ad and its content are more meaningful than measuring how many (or few) users bother to click on the ad and visit the destination site. The value of content marketing is in the consumption of content and the degree to which it changes consumers’ sentiments towards the brand, not by how much traffic it can drive to the brand’s homepage or microsite.

Paid Media Gives Content Marketing Scale

Putting your best content on your owned sites and earned media is a bit like preaching to the choir. Potential customers (and a large segment of your existing ones) have little reason to visit your homepage or liking/following your brand on social media.

The most scalable alternative is to bring your marketing message to where your potential customers are: on other content-rich sites. The extent to which you can find and engage with customers in paid media is limited by your budget and your own ROI expectations.

Paid Media Publishing Requires Rethinking the Display Ad

In a paid media publishing world, the ad is no longer a file that serves as a signpost to another site. It’s a container that can deliver the sorts of content that you want existing and potential customers to enjoy and associate with your brand. Using the ad for the sole purpose of redirecting users from the content they had chosen to interact with to another site becomes an outmoded goal, one that might actually be counterproductive if the goal is to foster a positive association between user and your brand.

In fact, paid media publishing reinvigorates display advertising, giving it an opportunity to provide value instead of simply being something that people ignore or resent. Here at Flite, our content-rich ads have engagement rates five times that of industry averages for rich media (as measured by DoubleClick). Double-digit interaction rates suggest there is a large market for content marketing, even when it’s housed in a form of advertising that many had given up hope for.