Editor’s note: This post was written by Johan Unger, co-founder of Sprinkle. Sprinkle is a content distribution platform for digital publishers and is implemented on over 150 sites. The company was founded in 2013 and has offices in Stockholm, Malmö and Oslo. Disclaimer: Here at Swedish Startup Space we’ve implemented the Sprinkle widget.
When Social Media entered our lives it changed a lot of things. For marketers, it meant that all of a sudden they needed to be interesting to get attention. Old Spice told us we could smell like a real man and Red Bull dropped a guy from space. Viral marketing was born. For publishers this was bad news. It meant that their marketing value was severely challenged by a more cost-effective alternative: huge social media sites with people sharing good content.
The reason is, when publishers translated their business from print to digital they basically changed nothing when it comes to the way ads are displayed. This meant that all the interactivity that digital brings with it was lost and users were left with the same, often intrusive display ads you see in newspapers.
In his great TED talk Simon Sinek speaks about how people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is of course just as important in online marketing. People are not interested in, let’s say a juice brand, telling them BUY OUR FANTASTIC JUICE!! through noisy banners. In fact, it’s so disturbing we’ve developed something called banner blindness, 99% of all banners are ignored. Instead, people will respond better to 5 reasons you should drink more juice distributed through a more discrete, sponsored article. Turns out, 70% of consumers prefer to get to know a company or brand through original content rather than through ads. It’s not selling, it’s telling.
Hence, the exploding popularity of Native Advertising. A paid link with an editorial look and feel, often similar to the publisher’s own content. We see it almost everywhere and it’s deemed by many as the savior of online publishing. It is perfect for distribution of content marketing, and as a result, the investments made in content by brands has grown rapidly. According to this study, 60% of marketers say they will increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months.
This is probably why people tend to mix up content marketing with native advertising and consider it as something new, which is of course not the case. Content marketing is likely as old as marketing itself, and a great example of this is the fantastic Michelin Guide, that recently turned 100 years old. Nevertheless, it’s got a huge upswing in recent times and is now on everyone’s lips.
However, it is easy to get lost in the hype and believe that just because something is ”content” the quality doesn’t matter as much. One of the problems we see today is that many content marketers with print experience change way too little when they translate their business to digital. The results are less effective campaigns with smaller returns for their ad spend.
Furthermore, there is way to much focus on conversion to sales. Content marketing is about creating a lasting connection with your audience through relevant, believable and engaging communication, while also establishing your brand as the expert in your area.
A fantastic example is GoPro. They built a team of 50 producers to select, enhance, and curate amazing videos of base jumpers and snowboarders. Today, a huge part of the extreme sports videos consumed online comes through GoPro. They’ve now gone public as a media company and are producing original content like this series celebrating Brazil and the World Cup 2014.
Below you see a slide with the top goals for content marketing. Brand Awareness is the number one most important, with sales coming in at only number six.