Content marketing: golden boot or own goal?
As an Arsenal fan, watching Arsene Wenger’s charges plot their way to the perfect goal can be a tiresome experience. The mind can easily wander. Perhaps to one of the electronic pitchside ads which are intruding so brazenly on our beautiful game. There’s Europcar inviting us to visit Europcar Sport. Now immediately I’m sceptical. This is content marketing, clearly. This is a sponsor wishing to ‘engage’ ‘meaningfully’ with supporters by providing content of value to them. But what, I ask myself, can a car rental company offer beyond what I get from the official website or countless news websites?
The answer is as predictable as an Arsenal attack at the moment. Nicely packaged, but no real end product. There’s a news feed (arsenal.com gives me that) and a list of player twitter pages. The only unique content is a guide to parking for travelling supporters. Time to get back to the game then.
Brands are falling over themselves to join the content marketing craze. For me, content marketing means a brand informs me or entertains me in return for the exposure – this is the value exchange. Unfortunately too many brands stray into areas where they can’t deliver real value. Either the content is weak, or they simply churn out third party material. Lazy.
A more edifying experience this month came in the form of the annual Carat Media Forecast in Marketing magazine. This was content marketing worth taking time out for. The difference? These people are expert in the field so their content is genuinely useful. While I’m at it, here are a few nuggets from the report:
- This year digital spend will exceed TV for the first time … and that excludes mobile
- The use of ad blocking will bring a sharp rise in native and paid content
- We continue to love radio, and that goes for young people too, even in the face of Spotify, iTunes and other platforms
- Within 5 years all audio visual advertising (TV, VOD, YouTube) will be bought across devices from a single source, and served based on cookie data. Young singles will no longer be watching ads for nappies!
Marketing as a discipline is probably too prone to fads. Like brands going social purely to follow the crowd, when it’s not really what they are. Content marketing is another example. Customers quickly see through it if it’s forced, so only do it if you can do it well. Otherwise, like many a Ramsey-Walcott combination, it can be a whole lot of effort for precious little reward.