Online content and paid advertising, what’s the difference?

In our modern connected world online content rules. This week we discuss the fundamental difference between an advert and editorial.

The best online content produced by brands often blurs the line between two worlds, old and new.

When most people think of advertising they picture a billboard, a double page spread in a magazine or a TV commercial. This is an easily understandable business model. A brand pays an advertising agency to promote their product: a beautifully shot picture of a car with a witty strapline or a model who we aspire to be like can make a designer brand desirable. An advert is clearly selling us a product.

Online content can differ immensely from this model. This is not always easy for people to understand. The best content marketing does not appear to be advertising at all, as there is often no mention of a product.

A car company might commission a blogger to write about ‘Road trips in the UK’ or ‘Breathtaking highways in Scotland’ with no mention of the brand at all.

This can be hard for both consumers and companies to get their heads around. So hard that the industry body that governs us has taken steps to clarify, read more.

Some brands do still have the urge to publish content online about their products. When this is the case, there is little difference between content and paid advertising. Not that there is anything wrong with this. Giving a customer access to as much information about a product or service can be useful. The trouble is there is only so much that can be said. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes: would you read an article that was little more than a sales pitch?

For example, would you rather read an article that told you about the benefits of taking out insurance on a bike or see an interactive map of hotspots in your area that bikes have been stolen from?

The fact the internet allows anything to be published virtually for free means brands have the opportunity to create an abundance of media that their audience can choose to consume rather than adverts they are forced to look at.

When a brand creates content to entertain rather than to sell, it builds a relationship with the customer and becomes viewed as an interesting friend.

How a brand benefits from publishing content

If online content doesn’t advertise the product or brand, how does the company profit from it?

Well, there are numerous ways this can work. Take the Innocent Drinks example. This simple piece of content was shared over 1,000 times as it was clearly a statement that resonated with its audience. This resonance builds a relationship with the audience as they interact with the brand and develop positive associations through engagement.

If the content is published by the brand on their own site, it should make the website more discoverable through additional search terms.

Google runs on links, so offsite articles that link back to the brand’s main site will boost the search ranking. As with most advertising, it is about visibility. The beauty of digital is that this can be measured and sales conversions can be identified.

If you’re looking for a London based agency to help boost your brand then why not get in touch with DVO!

Mix it up: How to find the perfect integrated marketing strategy

This week we’re taking on on integrated marketing strategy and how to find the perfect mix for the best results.

Integrated marketing strategy is on everyones agenda right now. Why? Because no single banner ad, billboard or blog post is going to be as successful as an integrated marketing campaign. Simple.

But, here’s the hard part: how do you build an integrated marketing strategy when there’s so many channels and options to choose from. How do you decide what that best possible mix looks like and how will you activate it without missing a beat? It’s a difficult question, we’ve had to create a full service digital agency that can work end to end with clients to truly integrate campaigns as there’s simply so much going on.

In a study conducted last year by Pointroll in conjunction with Kelton Research, more than half of the American marketing professionals asked said they used five or more tools on a single campaign. Of these, 15% said they use seven to nine different tools and 13% claimed to use an average of 10 or more per marketing campaign.

Despite the wide array of tools being used, it’s safe to say there is no magic formula. It’s impossible to pick an integrated approach that’s going to work time in time out. Instead, each mix needs to be personalised to the brand and their message.

When it comes to marketing tools for a digitally-led campaign, think along the lines of social, content, tablets, apps, website development and search. Any number of these can be used in any digital marketing campaign, but you don’t necessarily need all of them.

The success of a marketing campaign is all about getting your brand’s message known to as many people in your target market as possible. This doesn’t mean sticking up a billboard on the side of the road for everyone driving on the M25 to see. In the digital world, it means spreading your brand’s message between a particular mix of online streams which work to complement each other, thus providing an holistic solution to communicating your brand’s message.

The trick is to think outside the box. The digital world is always changing and new marketing opportunities are always popping up. Take Vine, the social app, which lets you capture and share a continually looping 6-second video, for example. This has huge potential for marketers looking to create branded content, which was demonstrated at our latest Content Creation Collective event.

As an example of an integrated approach, let’s say you’re a budding travel company wanting to get yourself known. You might choose to run a competition to get people interested in and engaging with your brand. But, for it to work, you need people to know about it.

And how can you achieve this?

How about getting a great article or comical video made surrounding the competition? But that’s not all. From there, get this fabulous piece of content published on a variety of high profile and targeted sites which implore the audience to visit the website you’ve had specifically made for the competition. Then, inspire people to share and engage with your brand via the hashtag or Twitter handle you’ve created for the occasion. Heck, why not a Facebook page too?

In this example, you’ve used content, website development, social sharing and all-round exposure to gain engagement and, most importantly, business from your target market. Audiences are given more than a simple banner ad to look at. They’re given a whole brand experience to interact with.

If you’re looking for a London based agency to help you produce truly integrated communications that blend campaigns, content and conversations we can help, get in touch and find out how.

How can content marketing help my business?

We get asked a lot “how can content marketing help my business” so this week we explore further why content is number one on most marketers agendas and for us as a digital agency it’s a core service.

According to a recent survey of 700 business professionals conducted by Adobe and Econsultancy, the top priority for marketers this year is content. And 52% of marketers say the ability to target and personalise content is fundamental to their online strategy. However, only 18% say they have the marketing technology to succeed.

So in answer to the question, “how can content marketing help my business?”

Well, if done exceptionally, it doesn’t feel like marketing to the audience. The ultimate aim is that the user will be so mesmerised by the content you’ve created that they’ll unwittingly devour it as useful/interesting/emotional rather than as a marketed piece of branded material. They’ll organically be introduced or exposed to your brand or company without being plied with tacky advertising material which can deter potential customers.

The more you offer your audience in terms of great content and useful information, the more they’re going to trust, respect and want to use your business.

In the same way no one likes a door-knocking salesman, no one wants to feel bombarded with advertising while they’re surfing the web. The content has to feel natural – the complete opposite of forced – so that the audience organically finds and consumes it.

The thing is, if your agency led content marketing is successfully applied, your audience is not only going to find and consume it, but they will also SHARE it. This is why content marketing can be (if done well) so beneficial to your business. Digital ‘word of mouth’ (sharing) is an effective way of driving sales because, to the audience, it feels like a natural exposure to a brand rather than a forced one and that’s the kind of thing people trust. In fact according to SAP people trust other people 90% more than they trust a brand. Every share or like or re-tweet exponentially influences a wider set of consumers.

The point of content is that it gives something to the audience. People head online to search for endless amounts of information, and if you can give them some form of the information they’re searching for, you’re going to grasp their attention. The aim is not to directly sell them something, but to give them something of interest that in turn will lead to sales.