“Paid, owned and earned are here to stay.” So said Keith Weed who, as the CMO for Unilever (the second largest advertiser on the planet), knows what he is talking about.
He was speaking at the recent Advertising Association summit bringing together the great and good from all sides of the industry: media owners, brands and agencies. Weed told the audience of high-powered executives from the likes of Google, Mindshare and The Guardian that marketing needs to reinvent itself to meet the changing needs of consumers and the digital seismic shift that has put the consumer in charge. A world in which “everything is connected” and “consumers can access content whenever and wherever they want” means that marketers need to experiment and look for new models for integration.
“We are building brands and they need to be integrated and consistent,” he said. And for my business, content marketing agency Seven, that has got to be good news.
It seems to me that the debate has now moved on to the next phase, thanks to the likes of McKinsey, whose ‘brands are publishers’ mantra means content is now at the heart of any debate about the future of marketing.
“The reach of paid media…will increasingly serve as feeders into owned-media hubs where marketeers can offer a more engaging experience. Owned media require patience, cultivation and sustained engagement. Like the products of any good online publisher, a marketers owned media need a steady stream of traffic building programs, fresh content, and optimised design.”
The big question now remains how can brands go about the hard bit: creating, managing and, just as importantly, monetising their owned media channels. Every agency discipline – above the line, through the line, below the line, PR, digital, media – are all talking about content. But in the end it’s the good old-fashioned skills of journalists and editors that are needed. Creating content that consumers will happily engage with and pay for (either in hard cash or precious time) is what really matters. And whatever anyone tells you, creating original, engaging, on-brand content that lives happily on multiple owned and earned media platforms is just not that easy. We know.
Coca-Cola’s ‘Content 2020’ advertising strategy is to “move from creative excellence to content excellence.”
According to the people behind one of the world’s biggest brands,”it’s also not just about television. It’s about compelling content – whether it runs as a
30- or 60-second television commercial, a webisode, or five seconds on a mobile device”.
So, McKinsey, Unilever, Coca-Cola…it looks like this is the year that owned media and, specifically, content marketing steps up and takes its place at the top table. And you don’t just have to take our word for it.