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Brand Content is dead, long live Content Marketing?

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In recent years, we have seen many French brands learn or perfect the art of content production. By moving from the status of "merchant" to that of publisher, they rightly hope to improve consumer perception of the brand and its products but also to increase their commitment. However, with the exception of the performance of the best Brand Content students, not everyone is successful.

Mixed results for Brand Content

The notion of performance, when we talk about branded content, is obviously difficult to assess. In this area, we expect long-term results, with commitment being built over time and through the combined action of several approaches (communication, press relations, advertising, etc.). However, there is reason to be concerned about the results of certain projects: just look at the many brand channels on YouTube whose audience does not exceed a few hundred videos viewed...

A bank that creates a trade site dedicated to entrepreneurs, a cosmetics brand that trains in make-up techniques, an insurer that helps protect against household accidents, a real estate professional who advises his clients on the mistakes to avoid when buying a property: so many examples of relevant positioning with mostly quality content. But is the return on investment always there?

Because creating quality content is expensive: for a video, for example, from a few thousand euros to several million for luxury brands. The cost/efficiency ratio becomes complicated to estimate, whereas in times of crisis, for marketing departments, it is however THE crucial question.

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An approach that often lacks height

Among the reasons for a disaffection of the content, one can notably find the existence of a fashion effect with a willingness to speak out at all costs. These are the same mistakes that were made in the past with mobile applications, Facebook pages, or websites more than ten years ago: everyone must be present but without necessarily knowing why! The result is therefore often clumsy, with content bearing far too much of the brand's imprint and lacking credibility.

The question of support must also be asked. Indeed, the traditional levers of audience acquisition and visibility on the Internet (display, sponsored links), which are too "advertising", do not always correspond to the message. When a company talks about sustainable development, its message risks losing credibility if it uses an advertising banner to broadcast it. To increase the visibility of its content, the company must then turn to alternative solutions.

Finally, it is necessary to ensure that the content and the target are appropriate. Marketers are sometimes tempted to believe that they know their target perfectly and produce content based on this pseudo-knowledge. However, the discrepancy with reality can sometimes be glaring. The analysis of high-performance content, tested against the reality of clicks, for example on an exchange or recommendation platform, can make it possible to distinguish between content that really reaches its target.

In short, brands often lack a more global strategy: "Content Marketing". Content Marketing, which is widely used in the US, can be defined as the creation and distribution of relevant and useful content, designed to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and recognized audience. With the objective that this audience will ultimately make a purchase on its own. In short, it advocates the use of content by brands in an overall strategy, with dedicated tools and clearly defined objectives: in terms of audience, conquering and retaining new customers.

The Future of Brand Content: Integrating into a Content Marketing Strategy

The content, if its ROI is not immediate, establishes a unique relationship (emotional, trust) between the consumer and the brand, and creates the conditions for its subsequent transformation in the form of the act of purchase. It is the new entrance to the buying tunnel!

Brands need to be aware that a content-based communication strategy is completely different from advertising. Content brings value to the consumer (utility, emotion, entertainment) where advertising must generate a shorter term reaction (the purchase).

On www.redbull.fr, you don't even see that you are on the site of an energy drink brand anymore. Red Bull is one of the world's most content-producing brands, all focused on extreme sports. Their tour de force? To have managed to completely "differentiate" their content and position themselves as a real news media. And the brand's sales seem to be doing rather well... Obviously, not everyone is Red Bull, but this example has the merit of challenging certain preconceived ideas.

The value that a brand brings to its consumer is unique to each individual, which is why it is vital to target content marketing operations even more precisely than a traditional campaign. The same logic that has always been used in television: it is the content that generates the audience, not the medium. In concrete terms, if I want to reach the 15-25 age group, I need to produce content that appeals to the 15-25 age group: an obvious fact that it's sometimes good to remind people of...

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For example, by refocusing the budget devoted to production volume to the benefit of more targeted content, a portion of the budget can be dedicated to ensuring better visibility of this content. Because in the end, why write if nobody reads what I write?

To gain audience, advertisers must use new levers, distribution and visibility tools adapted to a content strategy. When a politician wants to speak, he or she does not buy an advertising spot: he or she gets invited to a talk show. Brands must adopt the same attitude by using more editorial levers: by carrying out special operations with publishers, by mobilizing blogger communities (making people talk rather than talking), or by amplifying the reach of messages thanks to editorial recommendation platforms.

In conclusion, even a "polluter" can have a legitimacy to speak out on sustainable development. All that is needed is for his speech to be frank, high-end, uninspired and to bring together the audience interested in the subject, in a suitable place. The essential thing then becomes a certain form of authenticity in speaking out, knowing how to show real involvement in the content created to give it its full value. Paradoxically, branded content will flourish when the "brand" has (almost) disappeared in favour of a global content strategy.

About Outbrain

Outbrain (www.outbrain.com), the leading content discovery platform, is dedicated to helping Internet users find the content on the Web that is most interesting to them, while giving publishers and brands the ability to reach a highly engaged audience. Using personalized links, Outbrain recommends content through a network of more than 200 high-end publishers, including in France TF1, Libération, Mondadori, Slate, Bestofmedia, Planet.fr and le10sport.com. Links to other content on the publisher's own site increase loyalty, while links to high-quality content from other sites increase traffic and generate new revenue. Outbrain is currently installed on more than 70,000 sites and generates more than 38 billion recommendations per month. Founded in 2006, the company is headquartered in New York City with offices in the United States, Europe and Israel.

Follow @OutbrainFR on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/OutbrainFR

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