Florence Garnier, Partner France and Senior Consultant UK
The Observatory International
How Brands should organise content marketing distribution globally
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
In simple terms, content often refers to video content consumed via digital & mobile channels digital, but can also refer to other channels such as TV, billboard, print, editorial etc.
Social media being more data savvy than TV is favoured by Brands for distribution as tracking and improving return on investment is facilitated, but in essence every touch point with a brand creates a moment where content maybe used, from an automated call centre message, through to a piece of scripted film.
In order to cope with this “always on” demand for content creation and production globally, Brands need to review and potentially change both their ways of working, internal organization as well as supplier’s arrangements (agencies, production partners …). This explains why content creation and production was the main focus of Global advertisers in 2016, under the code name “content factory” …
Adopting the mantra that “Content is king but distribution is Queen and she wears the pants…”
Moving forward, the next strategic question for business is how to best promote a beautiful piece of content across paid, owned, and earned channels? How to best get the word out and ensure the desired audience will see it and share it? Handling distribution requires Brands to question their marketing operating model at strategic, tactical and operational levels.
Content, what for? Questioning the marketing operating model at strategic level
Content marketing has mostly 3 different roles: influence the consumer in relation to the Brand (consumer engagement), provide product information reviews (websites), and last but not least, call to action (sales in store or E-commerce). In this digital age, consumers have increasing power regarding how they spend time with brands and how and when they engage with them. With the rise of ad blockers and the increasing awareness of personal data, there is a need to engage customers on their own terms where they are. This means a move from outbound ‘push’ messaging to more engaging experiences that capture their attention in a crowded space.
Cutting through and attracting consumers in the mire of all content proliferation requires a very good understanding of local culture. This is the reason why dealing with content creation and distribution changes most advertisers global /local marketing operating model. Global governance schemes should be updated in order to cluster content creation according to its nature and purpose. For example: planned and global content such as advertising and partnerships might be dealt with at central level, product information might be under the responsibility of central or regions, whereas reactive and live content has to be handled by local markets. This raises the question of how central, regional and local units should interact and who should do what when creating and distributing content is the main strategic question?
With a fast growing hold on consumers, Google and YouTube developed a categorization (Help, Hub, Hero) to help support the way consumers use and value content. Their terminologies have become the common lexicon for content categorisation. Brands can separate content out when planning / budgeting and of course how it therefore reaches audiences. Each Global Brand will come up with a different answer depending on their industry (luxury, manufacturing, consumer goods, services…) as well as go to market patterns (BtoC, BtoB, BtoBtoC…)…
Content, how to? Questioning the marketing operating model at a tactical level
What is the best relationship and arrangement between a Brand and its agencies? Who should do what in the new content world? Transforming from a traditional marketing team to an innovative, category defining content publisher requires new and varied skills. To get the relevant talents on board, Brands need to reconsider their “make or buy” policies towards agencies and production houses.
A review to understand and design the most optimal operating model will include the determination of the responsibility split between Brands and agencies to best handle strategy, creation, production, versioning and distribution at a central, regional and local level. Throughout the content process it will need to be clear who does what, as well as how content is stored, managed and used. One of the most important areas to address within the current organisational structure is how content is taken to market: via an internal process? via media agencies? via technology?
Technology used to deliver content marketing often overlaps with that used for other aspects of marketing. Target audiences, distribution channels, lead generation, and reporting and analytics activities are often common across content marketing and other marketing activities.
It is important to understand what technologies are used across marketing and how to integrate content marketing activities to create a seamless coherent experience. Technology should be used both by the brand and its agency roster. But technology alone is not the answer as services around technology such as managing content stores, usage rights, and support of stakeholders all need to be considered.
Marketers have a wide range of options to answer those questions in order to best serve their business. Importantly, deciding the key performance indicator the model should serve is a way to provide solutions the complexities of strategy, creation, speed to market and value for money.
Content distribution? Questioning the marketing operating model at an operational level
Different media channels meet different goals.
Pragmatic distribution goals should be coupled with data enabled strategy in order to help Brands determine their distribution strategy: What do Brands care most about — visits, signups, conversions, social shares, followers, or brand awareness?
Data is used to understand the audiences’ behaviour, attitudes (propensity), and emotions, as well as more typical demographic information. Behaviour data includes both their overall user journey from awareness, through consideration, to customer, but also their preferred channels, how they behave on those channels (e.g. search rather than browse), which content formats they like, and which topics prompt them to engage.
One critical component of the model will be to define what data is collected from all the distribution channels (e.g. web, app, social, media, offline) and from CRM and lead management tools. Defining how this data is stored and where it will be used allows to create powerful and precisely defined audience segments for targeting their content; segments that can also be used in other more conventional forms of marketing such as display ads.
This wealth of data allows businesses to move beyond targeting to true personalisation of the content, delivering the information consumers need, at the time they need it, in the format they prefer, and through the channel they liked to use.
In conclusion, Brands and their partner agencies should keep in mind that their Global operating model and resource allocation review is a large part of the answer to the content distribution question…