Measuring up to great branded content

By Ian Armstrong, global advertising general manager at Jaguar Land Rover and co-head judge at the 2017 international World Media Awards

The value of content-led marketing campaigns is becoming increasingly obvious to companies in the Middle East, with research last year by Zentree identifying that a massive 71 per cent of entrepreneurs in Dubai expected content marketing to be ‘very important’. So, with Internet penetration in the region continuing to grow at a rate of 20 per cent year-on-year, the opportunity to build consumer relationships through digital content in particular is on the rise.
This is especially true when you also factor in that, according to the Europe Business Review, only 2 per cent of digital content is currently published in Arabic, with the majority in the region being recycled from elsewhere. So, creating content tailored specifically for the region could hold great potential for brand stand out. Indeed, our own content-driven Land Rover ad campaign last year in the UAE used storytelling to great effect and won us the Gold Automotive gong at last year’s World Media Awards (WMAs).

As the 2017 WMAs deadline looms, I’m conscious of marketers around the world pulling together the results that show why they believe their campaign should win this year – and how hard it can be to show content campaign effectiveness.

Mechanical versus behavioural change

One of the biggest stumbling blocks is that marketers often struggle to decide on the effect they want their campaigns to elicit. Typically, they want content to create either ‘mechanical change’ or ‘behavioural change’ and are more familiar with the metrics for measuring the former, such as website visits, CPMs and conversions etc.

Content marketing’s strengths, though, also lie in its ability to change behaviour, working at a more personal level to create an emotional bond between the consumer and the brand. So, given that the brain makes an emotional decision, which then drives the mechanical decision, behavioural change is arguably more important than mechanical change – but how do we measure emotional response? Does the sharing or liking of content, or how long we spend looking at it really reflect the campaign effect?

Agree on clear objectives

Clearly defining campaign objectives is the essential first step so that you can then look at the data it’s possible to collect and decide what will really demonstrate whether you have achieved them. These objectives should include the need for content to be found by the right consumer, that it is useful, relevant and sharable and that it provides them with a positive brand experience.

The three content marketing fundamentals

So, with all this in mind, what do content marketers require to measure effectiveness? There needs to be data that measures the impact on the three key fundamentals of content marketing: generating intrigue, informing and a call to action.

The metrics then need to relate to a timeframe too as the objectives for a car campaign will need to be measured against a much longer period than for toiletries, for instance. Plus, we need to consider if success for one element of a content campaign (e.g., an infographic) is going to look very different to success in another, such as video.

Metrics will also need to be able to provide a measure of the quality of the story the content is telling and how much it resonates with the target audience at an emotional level. Measurements such as sharing, dwell time, scroll depth and organic search visibility are some that brands are using here.

With so many measures available and with Zentree’s research also showing that 63 per cent of marketers in the region plan to increase content marketing budgets in 2017, now is the time for the industry to make content marketing metrics a priority. In particular, we all need to work together to bring insight from across all product categories so that we can gain a much deeper understanding of the fundamental things that drive behavioural change. Only then can we isolate the three or four things that make the difference in order to create branded content benchmarks.

If we could get the best planners from across some of the biggest agencies into one room to share their knowledge for the good of the industry, that would be a fantastic start. The resulting industry metrics would help marketers to not only better measure effectiveness, but to put effectiveness at the heart of their planning too. And it would certainly make it easier for us award judges to identify the content campaign winners!

The World Media Awards are open for entry until Thursday, February 23.

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