Why content is the key to successful marketing

 Without content, there is no marketing. Period.

Content marketing, or company-created content that serves marketing purposes in company owned channels (website, blog, etc.) has attracted significant attention in recent years, and for good reason. But content is also at the core of paid media (advertising) and earned media (social and PR). If it weren’t for content, all we marketers would have going for us is empty banner ads, nothing in our status feeds, and in fact no reason to tune in at all.

But there are other, critical reasons for content’s rise in prominence.

Digital advertising effectiveness is on the decline and marketers are turning to other forms of marketing to better engage customers during their digital journey.

Content marketing has emerged as something of a savior in the new marketing hierarchy as brands seek alternatives to display advertising that no longer produces tangible business results.  

Customer and content-centric marketing strategies rely more on content of value, and less on paid media buys.

Consumer Attitudes, Data Privacy, and New Digital Channels Drive Change
Though rampant advertising fraud and a lack of online engagement contribute to the shift from advertising to more content-based marketing, they aren’t the sole driving forces.  Additional factors spurring the shift from advertising to content include:

Attitudinal: Consumers dislike and mistrust online ads. Thirty percent of consumers report online advertising is not effective, and 54% believe web banner ads don’t work. Adding adjectives to injury, more than half of consumers apply the terms ‘annoying’, ‘distracting’, and ‘invasive’ to desktop and mobile web ads, according to an Adobe study. The younger the audience, the higher this dislike and distrust.

Privacy and Safety: TrustE reports that one in four consumers worry about the security or privacy of the data collected on smart devices, and only 20% believe the benefits of smart devices outweigh these concerns. They’re also concerned about malware attacks and location-specific surveillance.

Channel and Platform Proliferation: New social platforms and converged media formats, like hybrid native advertising, challenge marketers to create not only more content than ever before, but also content that can be easily adapted. It’s more challenging (and, complex) to manufacture content that fits paid, owned, earned, and converged media channels than it is to focus solely on advertising. Marketers today find it increasingly necessary to invest in multiple channels to avoid risk, as efficacy typically waxes and wanes between channels and platforms. Experimenting with new channels can pay off though, as Unilever found that buzz derived from its social content was significantly driving sales. This resulted in the company investing ’tens of millions’ into its social presence.

Mobile: As mobile overtakes not only desktop computing but also TV in media consumption hours spent, marketers are increasingly challenged by the decrease of ad ‘real estate’ on smaller screens. Mobile’s intrinsically personal nature also makes interruptive forms of advertising all the more invasive. Additionally, there’s an escalating cost to consumers. Mobile advertising becomes bandwidth intensive, eating into their data plans.

Omni-channel: There's a growing realisation even among brands that remain satisfied with digital advertising that the ability to buy, target, and optimise banners are now just table stakes in an increasingly complex landscape. This complexity of multiple channels with complementary content needs raises challenges for brands as they transition from a paid, push-media mind-set to a thriving content ecosystem. Retailers and CPG brands are expanding content outward from phones and desktop computers and into in-store kiosks and other retail experiences.  

Intel partnered with Turner and Mark Burnett to produce a reality show spawning a cosmos of content, offline and off. ‘A consumer seeing 10 sequential pieces of content is more valuable to us than seeing the same banner ad 10 times," said Becky Brown, Intel's vice president, global marketing and communications and director, Digital Marketing and Media Group.

Marriott's David Beebee shared that the hospitality chain has repurposed content that resonates on its owned digital media channels for out-of-home billboard executions, quipping, ‘a multi-tiered paid model for digital content is as juicy an opportunity as a brand could hope for’.


Rebecca Lieb is the author of Content: The Atomic Particle of Marketing – The definitive guide to content marketing strategy. It is out now, published by Kogan Page, priced £19.99

  • Thanks for all the insights, as you say content marketing gives the opportunity to understand and manage your audience, once you achieve that is just a matter of plugin you monetisation strategies to your audience depending on your objectives and you have the most powerful marketing tool