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Keep up to date with the latest content marketing tips and news.


Half of US-based marketers are using contextual targeting to reach and engage with audiences more effectively, according to a new study published by The Drum and GumGum.

Behavioural targeting has traditionally been the go-to method for advertisers, as it allows them to tailor content to people they believe will be receptive to it depending on demographic factors, such as age and sex, and psychographic factors based around values, attitudes and opinions. The study suggests this is now changing.

Just 25% of marketers said they now use behavioural targeting compared with the 49% that favour contextual targeting. The latter method sees brands target people based specifically on the context of a specific website and what an end user is looking at. This is appealing to brands in a climate of fake news, safety scandals and the recent arrival of GDPR regulations.

GDPR has overhauled personal data collection and limited a company’s ability to store and analyse data from consumers that underscores traditional behavioural targeting. Contextual advertising empowers brands to serve up engaging, personalised and relevant content to audiences without having to glean insights from big data. It is better suited to the real-time nature of digital content consumption.

The latest report, titled Contextual Advertising: The New Frontier, highlights the comeback of contextual methods in modern marketing campaigns. It is by no means a new targeting activity, but it has become much more complex and useful in recent years. Back in the early days of digital advertising and SEO, brands would often rely on a single keyword. This is no longer the case, as AI and other cutting-edge technology allow publishers to decipher the visual content of a specific page.

Advertisers are eager to capture and retain the interest of a consumer in today’s saturated content landscape. It has never been more important to deliver the right piece of content to the right person at the right time. Semantics analysis and computer vision are now supporting a step change in the efficiency of contextual targeting. These methods offer brands a realistic solution at a time when data collection and processing is a pressing issue for the general public.

The authors of the study polled 116 senior executives in the US and the UK for their opinions on digital marketing, and the main takeaway is that contextual advertising may soon become the de facto method for targeting, as new technology allows the contextualisation of text and images to inform content decision-making.

The report also found that 31% of brands are planning to increase investment in contextual advertising next year. That uptick is being driven by data showing it delivers better returns and results – performance increased by 73% on average when compared to behavioural targeting.

The study does stress that contextual advertising should not be used in isolation and should be supported by a balanced mix of marketing and advertising techniques and methods. However, it is perhaps the best method for delivering strong results at a time when global regulations for data are inconsistent and brand safety concerns grow.



Snapchat announced the arrival of a new Stories Everywhere feature earlier this week, but the drive to get users to share more content on the platform is unlikely to win over marketers and advertisers, who continue to focus their attention on Facebook and Instagram for targeting buying audiences.

Stories Everywhere is basically Snapchat’s way of connecting with the services users rely on every day. Any user-generated content will soon be able to be posted in emails and text messages, as well as Facebook and Twitter, without having to navigate away from the mobile app. The feature will arrive alongside a complete redesign in the coming weeks and is aimed at keeping more users locked into Snapchat.

However, its usability for brands is limited, and a spokesperson for the image messaging site even admitted the latest changes are consumer-focused and will not appeal to advertisers, as there won’t be any impact on ad units. Snapchat said in a statement that Stories Everywhere would make it easier for users to share their favourite moments with “friends and family outside of Snapchat”.

With that statement being aimed squarely at the general public, it is no surprise that some brands and agencies have confirmed that they will not be investing any more money into content and other experiences on Snapchat in the near future. Deutsch’s Senior Vice President Rachel Mercer said the move felt like a “Hail Mary” effort, as the platform has a diminishing relevance in the social media landscape.

Snapchat revealed that it has 178 million users during its third-quarter earnings report, but that was just a 4.5 million uptick from the previous quarter. Mercer believes advertisers already on the platform may see a small boost in engagement but that it would only be a “short-term gain”.

She added: “The reality is that the sophisticated advertising platform, from a targeting and marketing perspective, leans heavily towards Facebook, Instagram and depending on the context or needs, Pinterest and Google. Generally, Snapchat is most effective for awareness plays, and with diminished user reporting, I don’t know if it’s still applicable.”

Wavemaker Managing Partner Noah Mallin echoed these sentiments and added that social users will be less inclined to migrate to Snapchat now that there is the ability to share stories on other platforms. However, he claimed that may change “down the road” if Snapchat can bring new users to the platform.

T3 Director of Connections Angela Yang also believes that Snapchat’s walled garden was one of the reasons why it has been successful and is seen as a potentially viable alternative to the bigger social hitters. She said one area where it could differentiate itself is via visual content and strengthening its commitment to be a “camera company”.

She added: “For example, I created this amazing video for Snapchat. How much more mileage can I get out of it? It gives brands the opportunity to take pieces of content and get more eyes on it in other platforms. Snapchat’s got to think of new, innovative ways to capture the world around us for this to work.”


The series of brand safety scandals on YouTube and other platforms during the last 12 months have taken their toll on brand trust, as more than a fifth are planning to spend less on programmatic advertising in 2018, according to a new report published by QueryClick.

Entitled “Programmatic Ad Fraud Transparency”, the report polled the opinions of 150 high-level marketers at major brands across the UK. A testing year for the biggest digital ad platforms is finally about to end, but the consequences are set to reverberate into 2018, as 41% of respondents said they had lost trust in the practice of automated decision making and buying for targeting audiences with ads.

The individuals surveyed work for brands with revenues exceeding £100m. There is a clear trend that a selection of the most notable players in respective industries will overhaul their ad strategies in the New Year as they attempt to provide more relevant experiences to end users that don’t threaten the status of their relationships with customers or brand reputation.

Whether the new data suggests more marketers will switch to organic content and campaigns is not known, but there is a clear frustration among leading executives in regard to the options available to them on the ad-buying side of the equation at the moment. Almost half said the lack of alternative tech options, such as ad buying platforms, was to blame for the cutback in investment.

A similar number also cited ongoing transparency concerns as a major factor, as many still struggle to determine exactly how much programmatic ads cost and the return on investment they deliver. Meanwhile, 39% claimed this transparency discrepancy extended to ad placement, which is no surprise considering the number of high-profile brand safety incidents in 2017.

All three factors have snowballed to create a programmatic landscape that is not capable of delivering the consistent value brands expect, especially when the consequences of getting it wrong are so high in terms of losing consumer confidence and the prospect of financial and reputational damage. Ad fraud is also a growing concern.

“Despite it being on the rise, programmatic advertising is wide open to abuse,” QueryClick executive Chris Liversidge said. “Recent studies have put the cost of digital advertising fraud as high as $31bn. That makes digital ad fraud not just more costly than any form of cybercrime, but more costly than offline crimes such as counterfeit goods and payment card fraud.”

He added: “Publishers are on the front line in the battle against advertising fraud. They have a duty to educate both brands and agencies on programmatic processes to ensure transparency. However, brands can take steps to protect themselves too.

First, where possible, they should separate their programmatic campaigns so they are given the consideration — and performance measures — their growing size warrants. Secondly, they should unbundle their agency relationship from the programmatic platform, to enable them to seek out independent providers that offer true transparency and protection from the risks of current programmatic campaigns.”


Content marketers are now devising strategies and campaigns for 2018. With this in mind, CMI and MarketingProfs have just published their newest Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report to provide an overview of the latest trends among other useful information to help B2C brands plan and budget accordingly for the next 12 months.

Content is becoming more of an asset to modern enterprises with each passing year, so brands will be heartened to hear that two-thirds of B2C marketers believe they are achieving either “somewhat more” or “much more” success with their content marketing endeavours compared to a year ago. Almost nine out of ten respondents said they are now leveraging content in some form to achieve critical goals and objectives.

One of the most interesting takeaways is that the craft required to create high-quality content is now valued much higher by brands, as a sizeable 79% agreed that their organisation now places a greater emphasis on creative and production, which is a notable uptick from the 69% that said so during last year’s report.

Previous reports have cited a strong link between the most successful content marketers being more committed to the practice alongside having a documented strategy in place, and this again rings true. 93% of the top performers said their enterprise is either “very committed” or “extremely committed” to content, and of this successful group, 59% have a written strategy. In contrast, just 18% of the least successful marketers have a documented strategy.

However, the growing value of content appears to have resulted in an emerging trend of unrealistic expectations, as just 55% said their organisation has set realistic goals and targets for what can be achieved, which is well below the 68% that said so 12 months ago. Despite this, more than three-quarters believe their overall approach can be considered as anything from “moderately successful” to “extremely successful”.

“66% of B2C marketers surveyed said they’re more successful with content marketing compared with one year ago,” Content Marketing Institute’s Research Director, Lisa Murton Beets said. “At the same time, fewer B2C marketers than last year agreed that their organization has realistic expectations about what content marketing can achieve. One of the best ways content marketers can set appropriate expectations is to document their strategy. This will help stretched teams — even those that perform very well — focus on the priorities that matter most to their organization, and give teams that want to do more a starting point for building a business case for additional resources.”

MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley added: “Our research shows that B2C content marketers are placing a higher value on creativity and craft in content creation and production compared with one year ago.”

Marketers are using a variety of content formats to drive engagement, but social media posts topped the list of most popular resources, while videos, illustrations and photos, infographics, interactive tools and white papers rounded out the top six. Meanwhile, 79% agree that these resources have increased audience engagement during the last year, while 68% and 58% say content has driven lead generation and sales, respectively.


Tech marketers are using content marketing more than ever before and are planning to invest significant amounts of money into the practice during the next 12-months, according to a new study published by Dimensional Research and 10Fold Communications earlier this week.

“Content is king” is a well-worn mantra in today’s marketing landscape but is no less relevant as brands continue to pivot towards high-quality articles, news and videos en masse to reach and engage with target audiences, increase awareness, build trust and drive conversions. The extent to which marketers are embracing content is highlighted in the new study, as 75% of respondents said the amount of content they generate would soar by 300% during 2017.

Content is now a core component of the marketing mix for most marketers, so it is no surprise to see that four in ten will spend $250,000 (£188,000) or more on creative and content campaigns over the next year. This investment is partly being driven by demand from consumers for storytelling through digital video, which requires higher quality creative processes to meet growing expectations.

Another key trend highlighted in the report is outsourcing. Many enterprises now call upon the services of digital agencies to deliver the best content campaigns possible. A staggering 99% of tech marketers said they use third parties for a quarter of their output, and 83% are happy with the quality they are getting from the third parties.

However, several challenges are preventing brands from reaching their potential as 44% claimed a lack of expertise on some subject matters is making it difficult to create excellent content, though this is another area where a digital agency could be of great assistance. Awareness of analytics is also growing, as 80% use basic tools, such as Google Analytics, to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

“The marketplace is constantly changing, making 10Fold research survey on content, timely and insightful. The findings should help tech marketing VPs and CMOs that are barraged with conflicting priorities build out their marketing strategies based on facts,” Dimensional Research principal, David Gehringer, said. “Based on the results of our research for 10Fold, there is no doubt that there is an insatiable demand among technology companies for content that has technical relevancy and that is delivered in a form, such as video and blogs, that is appealing to their buyers.”

Video, social media and webinars were named as the best content formats by the tech marketers surveyed, though there was more of a focus on video for top executives, which is likely to be linked with the growing investment in storytelling. Meanwhile, content calendars are now a popular resource for tracking schedules. 10Fold CEO and founder, Susan Thomas added: “Our primary goal with this research was to capture deeper analytics about content plans and budgets to help our customers and the tech community develop stronger content strategies.”



There’s a big question heard in the industry a lot – can content marketing really work for small businesses? Whilst content strategies are proven to have worked for firms like IBM and American Express, these global firms have huge amounts of capital and resources to throw at advertising. In comparison, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often working with extremely tight, or even non-existent budgets. This shouldn’t put executives off because content marketing for SMEs can sometimes help level the playing field between them and their larger competitors.

For content marketing strategies to work, smaller firms must commit wholeheartedly to the concept of content advertising. In a North American study, it was found that only 21 per cent of content marketers actually classed themselves as “extremely” committed. In addition, it’s important to recognise that more time will be needed to promote content than to create it in the first place. The myth that great content will simply attract huge attention on its own is false. Regardless of content quality, if no promotion takes place, no one will see or share it – and there will definitely be no business conversions.

When it’s done correctly, content marketing can be of great benefit to SMEs. It can help them find more fans, followers and, eventually, customers. Also, there’s a host of ways this can be achieved. For instance, a survey by Neil Patel discovered that leading content strategies could get an average of 7.8 times more views than non-leaders; that’s an increase of 800 per cent. In addition, quality content, good promotion and increased views can all lead to higher rankings amongst search engines. Without content, it will be extremely difficult to find a spot on Bing or Google. Through content marketing, a stream of new, high quality material can help boost overall visibility.

There are other advantages too. For example, becoming a content leader (regardless of a firm’s size) can help establish authority in a specific niche. This means that SMEs can experience not only increased visibility from fans, but also increase notoriety with competitors. All of this can lead to more leads and sales as a result. For example, findings from HubSpot found that companies with a blog feature on their website, on average, generate 126 per cent more leads. Finally, the Content Marketing Institute discovered that “while content marketing costs 62 per cent less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads.” This goes to show that even small budgets can be used to conduct content marketing and then reap the rewards.

Content marketing is not a quick, get-rich-fast strategy. It needs ample time and resources to develop the right branding, voice and momentum. For smaller firms, it will take careful consideration to ensure that campaigns are started with the best chance of success to avoid eating into what little capital may be available, however, even the smallest of firms can undertake this type of marketing and enjoy the huge advantages it brings.