The afternoon discussion on The New Content Imperative at Edelman’s 2012 Academic Summit.
Andy Wiedlin, Chief Revenue Officer at Buzzfeed
Jack Teuber, Managing Director, Global and US Digital Marketing for PwC
Rebecca Lieb, DIgital Advertising/Media Analyst for the Altimeter Group
Rebecca: I’m going to talk about content marketing, which is really how brands are moving online to promote their products and services. Content marketing is anything that’s owned media, anything produced that doesn’t require a media-buy. This means brands need to develop new skill sets, think as publishers, they need to think continually, not episodically.
What kind of stage does something like American Express OPEN set for the Forbes of the world?
Based on a study she conducted 3 months ago, not one single one of them wasn’t planning on increasing their investment in content marketing in the coming years. BUT, it’s been advocated as a low-cost form of marketing, but I want to impress on people that it’s not free. There’s time in it.
Content is coming in many different forms, we’re seeing that marketers are planning to invest in more and more technology, and they plan on producing content that’s more complex and come with new challenges. Once you’re in video, or developing mobile apps for instance, you need a new level of expertise. You also need increasingly sophisticated measurement tools.
This is not free, this requires significant strategy, and this requires investment in new areas.
Jack: We use content in two ways. One to build our brand and the other is business development. My role is to stand between my company and what the user really wants. I put the user at the center of my position.
When I first started, there was no internet, and to reach who I wanted to reach, there were routing slips. News was linear, it started at the top, and worked it’s way down. The problem now is not when will I get what I want, it’s now about how do I choose between all the info I’m getting at the same time.
For us, ROI is the meeting. We use our content to get to the meeting: to display our expertise, to tell users that we understand our problems. We’re trying to take an organization that’s used to creating thick, scholarly papers to getting your ideas out in short bursts, and creating a plan to maximize that.
Andy: Buzzfeed is a pop culture site, and we’re dedicated to finding what ours users are loving at the moment. We make great content go viral.
Julia: Who are you giving your content production needs to?
Rebecca: It can be in a variety of places. Call-center, marketing, sales, social media, third-party teams. You need to communicate the importance of content within your organization.
Jack: Many people are very text-strong, or they might have very clean videos. But very few are getting into the “social” type of content production that’s really needed. Infographics, for instance, are great when they’re done well, and so few people know how to do them well, and definitely aren’t found in corporate environments.
Julia: What does it mean to go viral?
Andy: Viral is hit or miss. If you create content that’s interesting to them, and the content finds it’s audience and the audience shares it. There’s this myth out there that you can just “create” a viral video and have it work. It’s a slow build to create buzz, it might be a week or two until something picks up.
Julia: What are you seeing in terms of budgets for content marketing?
Rebecca: Overall budgets are growing tremendously. Content is the creative kernel that drives the whole machine now, not the creative director at the ad agency. This is going to be a big trend in the next five years.
Julia: What about content curators?
Andy: It would be great if a brand globbed onto a content theme and use content that’s already out there.
Julia: What about the impact of technology decisions, does content creation affect that?
Rebecca: Absolutely, when you get into the business of content, you can get into a significant technology investment for a company to do either in-house or third-party.
Julia: How does production value go into this? Can you be too slick?
Andy: To share things now, it’s easier if it’s low-fi.
Julia: What are the kind of push-back you hear about ROI? How do brands define the value of content production? How do you defend the investment in it?
Rebecca: In order to defend the ROI, you have to establish KPIs. There are all kinds of things you can get from this content that isn’t direct sales. You have to intelligently think about what you’re going to measure and how you’re going to measure it. It cannot be measured by clicks. We can’t go back there.
Jack: You want to be invited into the conversation and get around the table. You can show them why you should be there with content. You can decide not to participate, but you’ll see the result of that.
Andy: We’re trying to encourage brands to, instead of buying a ton of banner ads, put your content up and watch users play with it, share it, etc. They have the opportunity to do word-of-mouth with scale.