Native Content (Or is it advertising?) – The power of borrowed credibility

 

First of all, let’s dispel with some common misconceptions revolving around Native Content. Native Advertising, as is the accepted industry nomenclature, is often misconstrued to be a part of Content Marketing. This cannot be further from the truth as Content Marketing is an essential aspect of your brand’s overall marketing strategy with the primary objective of deriving some kind of profitable responses from users engaged in the content being circulated by you. These actions are initiated across various platforms which would include your own platforms like your website, social media platforms, YouTube channels etc. The dissemination of content across your own platforms is a rent-free mechanism to acquire and engage with your target audience. The desire to go beyond the limitations and reach of your own platforms is where the advertising aspect of content marketing comes into play. Marketing 101, if it’s a pay and play model for running your content on other platforms, it will be called advertising. But in the interest of not scaring away the dithering masses from the word ADVERTISING, we will continue with the usage of the term NATIVE CONTENT for the remainder of this article.

The above discrepancies in terminology is not entirely unfounded as we come to understand the very nature of native content. Native content was an earth shaking innovation in the advertising industry which saw it’s true potential being realized somewhere after 2010. As we all know regular advertising, which has been around for eons, had the sole purpose of driving the attention of potential customers away from their competitors and towards themselves through catchy phrases, attractive visuals and magnetic brand personas. Although these have proven time and again that they work, they had one apparent flaw which didn’t always curry favour with the audience that they were to be consumed by, they were DISRUPTIVE in nature. Not every user was pleased to see a pop-up ad while surfing their favourite website, or a TV commercial break in just before the climax of the movie you were watching. In fact the phenomena of ad bombardment drew away millions of people away from the concept of advertising all together which resulted in a negative trend in consumer behavior.

Enter NATIVE CONTENT!!! Native content was specifically designed to blend in with the overall content experience and stylized parameters of various platforms it pops up in. So when a user is navigating his/her way on a website, the paid content which is being pushed through from a non-native brand must strictly adhere the content structure and layout. This is done specifically to avoid user ad-fatigue on the host platform, and in many cases, completely doing away with the perception of any generic advertising on the platform altogether. The very reason many of the brands went ahead with native advertising instead of other mediums like banner advertisements is because if the user consumes the content from their trusted platforms in a seamless and NON-DISRUPTIVE manner, the brand recall and content retention will be stronger without the taint of it being a PAID advertisement. Even though paid content is specifically mentioned as being so, if the stream of information is relatable and relevant for the user, the chances of breaking through to the potential customer greatly improves and the chances of achieving the primary marketing objectives.

Native content comes across in many forms and can range from the time testing marketing vehicles like Advertorials, to the hot and happening avenue of INFLUENCER MARKETING. To many users who may not be acquainted with the subtleties of native content, the underlying tones of profit seeking marketing goals may just completely escape under the aegis of genuine content from their trusted platform. To help familiarize users with the different kinds of native content, here are some prime examples of Native Advertising across different platforms:

ADVERTORIALS:

  

 

 

 

PROMOTED LISTINGS:

                                    

INFLUENCER MARKETING:

 

PROMOTED TWEETS AND FACEBOOK POSTS:

         

PAID SEARCHES:

The above are just a few examples of paid content which is showcased and projected to the user with minimum disruptions in the content flow. With the business mandated requirement of generating revenue and the credibility retention necessity to maintain their current user bases, native content has given tremendous flexibility and power to the media owners of today ushering in an era of brilliant marketing innovations and creative convergence of ideas. With the advent of the mobile platform and digitalization of most content, there has never been a more opportune period for native content

 

SEO & Content – The blurry correlations

In a deliberate attempt to smoothen the absence of context for the uninitiated, we will be delving into the intricate world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how the quality of content immediately affects your content platform’s ‘visibility’ among the billions of Google search results for users. A fairly rudimentary explanation of SEO would entail the steady improvement of various factors that would give your platform a higher placement in a localized Google search by a user. This so called ‘ranking’ system (albeit ranking is a wrong analysis of SEO placements) is determined by highly evolved algorithms which crawl though trillions of pieces of content on the World Wide Web and displays them to a user in a top-down results order. This order is decided by the numerous factors imbedded within the algorithms which make decisions based on ‘Keywords’ inputted by the user, quantum of content, content relevancy, engagement levels and many more other such factors. For the sake of brevity we will be focusing on only the aspect of ‘good content’ and its effects on SEO.

 

The marketing adage of ‘content is king’ is often wrongfully construed by many as a mandate to go ahead with a quantitative approach instead of a qualitative approach towards their content strategies. With Google’s recent tweaking of their ranking algorithms, the relevancy of the former is seeing a steady decline as users are drifting more towards quality content which is more purpose driven and adds value to their area of interests. It will suffice to say that the old approach of content bombardment and pushing more and more content to your existing user base will have a negative impact on your user base ultimately leading towards user attrition towards competing platforms. This reorientation towards a more ‘User is King’ line of thinking by the big players like Google belies the shifting attitudes towards content consumption and why we as marketers need to focus on user experiences to gain or maintain relevancy in this clutter of online content.

 

To stay ahead in the game, there are several things which we must factor in while formulating our content strategies for the upcoming year:

  1. Content creation must have a goal oriented approach where specific goals that a user may have while consuming your content must be met without leaving any open ended queries which may require a follow up.
  2. Accessibility of content is a huge factor for the user and we must ensure that our content reach is in no way impeded by non-conformity with different platforms like mobile devices etc. The user will always remember a pleasurable experience and plays into the user retention aspect of our content strategies.
  3. The on-demand generation of today does not like to wait. The extremely harrowing experience of waiting for a site to load or painstaking pace of an unevolved user interface severely cripples the chances of your platform ever making it to upper echelons of search engine results. Even brilliant content will not have the power to push through your rankings and as a result you will see an exodus of consumers of your content.
  4. Social media will undoubtedly become one of the biggest factors in SEO in the approaching times. Even though other factors still outrank it in the SEO priority scale, social media is still an excellent mechanism to push through your content to highly evolved users. Tailoring your content for social media intake should be a priority for achieving your SEO objectives in the long run. Pro Tip – Google +, despite being a minnow in the eyes of B2C brands, it plays heavily on your SEO rankings. An engaging Google+ profile will surely give a boost to your SEO goals.
  5. Lastly, one needs to be absolutely sure that you are better than the competition. As important as having your own distinct vision for your brand, it is thoroughly important you keep up with what the competition is doing. A disgruntled user will have no qualms about looking out for an alternative source of content, and the best way to avoid that situation is to follow the above approach to maintain your lead over your competitors and doing your job better than the competitors.

Overall, content will be the overriding factor for Google to bump up your SEO standings. As algorithms further evolve and become smarter at gauging user experience, good content will be the trigger factor for more engagement surrounding your content, which will in turn greatly enhance your brand’s chances of achieving their SEO goals. A long term strategy towards showcasing good content will produce results which may surprise your team and derive a more organic and self-sustaining growth for your brand.

Influencer Marketing: From the Sidelines to the Frontlines

There was a time when pop-up advertisements were the thing, banner advertisements ruled the roost and e-mailers were always part of your marketing budgets. Then came the age of social media and as sure as your mother’s cooking, it caused the biggest revolution in communication since the invention of the telephone. It changed the entire landscape of social communication and how we share multiple streams of information with each other, for eternity. It has reached a point where billions of people across the globe are now connected to each other over social media platforms at all times, thanks to the advent of mobile phone technology. With ready access to this humongous database of ‘consumers’ for the plethora of products and services, there has never been a more opportune period for marketers to cash in and derive a more concise and ROI driven campaign to get the right results, through the right avenues.

 

Riding on the successes of content centric campaigns and organically derived ‘media-miracles’, ushered the rise of a socially mobile and highly engaging group of brand ambassadors called INFLUENCERS. Not only did they create another avenue to hone in on a highly targeted audience, but also leveraged their personal popularity to set up an entire eco-system for furthering branding campaigns. 2016 is largely considered as a watershed moment in the fairly infantile lifespan of ‘Influencer Marketing’, mainly due to the coming of age of highly personalized and influential content on social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. From celebrities to CEOs to bloggers to marketers, anyone who was willing to utilize their ‘social statuses’ to push a certain agenda, whilst maintaining their auras of credibility and content structures, jumped onto the ‘Influencer Bandwagon’.

 

The elevation to the level of being an influencer is not just relegated to mere grandstanding and one-way communication, but a path ridden with smart long-term approaches and sustained engagement in one’s inherent interest areas. 2017 holds some very interesting prospects for influencer marketing which will see an upward trend in brands looking to immerse themselves into including a wide range of influencers targeting specific groups of users. A renewed vigour among traditional marketing firms and agencies has initiated an acquisition/diversion of dedicated resources. This will explore more and more intricate avenues to increase consumer engagement through the use of influencers. That being said, in this ever evolving age of digital revolutions, influencers should not bet against the future by sabotaging their own eco-system through excessive interests and sub-contextual content pushes.

 

In the divergent world of influencer marketing where global icons exercise influence over swathes of cyberspace,  the hyper-local social media ninjas who giving a new avenue of precision targeting for local businesses, brands have never been bolder in their approach towards exploiting the ubiquitous desire for self-generated content. Overall the prosperity of the influencer marketing sector will hinge upon a continuing desire to keep up with the latest trends, and inputs of self-regulation to avoid over-inflationary tendencies which negatively impact ROI for the brand in question. All in all, we as a part of this eco-system of mutual dependency must sincerely work towards fine-tuning all aspects of campaign approaches, so that the CONSUMER in each and every one of us derives genuine value from the content displayed in front of us.

 

 

 

 

Here’s presenting our fortnightly video series. We call it The Fortnightly Show.

It came, it saw, and it left us with a withering sense of self which forced us into deep introspection and wonder. 2016 gave us a bucket load of memories which we will remember forever (read scarred for life) and the impact has been so profound, we are duty bound to present some of the most contentious, preposterous and downright insane happenings from the year that was 2016. Watch Abhishank Babbar (our local communications specialist) take apart issues ranging from ubiquitous ‘Sonam Gupta’ to the batshit craziness of the November ‘DEMONitisation’, and get down and dirty with the ‘Year that misbehaved’. Follow us on YouTube for more such ‘inspiring’ and ‘engaging’ videos. Don’t forget, Episode 2 is just around the corner.
 

Here’s What Every Content Marketer Should Keep In Mind In 2017

It’s official! The amount of time people are spending on different media platforms, especially social media, doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As a direct result of smarter platforms and precision guided targeting, content will retain its crown as the king of marketing strategies in 2017 and the foreseeable future.

The deviation from the past tactics of ‘Content Bombardment’, which emphasized continued presence in the audience’s fields of interests, has led a near revolution in the way the target groups will be engaged and fed content. The ability to personalize your content streams across different platforms makes for an opportune period for content marketers to access the attention of their audience and ‘seize the opportunity’. 2016 has been more like a watershed moment in the ‘Advent of the Social Age’, but like most trends which come and go some are sure to stick around touch new heights in 2017.

Here’s what we think are some of the things to look out for content marketers in 2017:

  • Videos will continue to rally and maintain their lead in the world of content marketing. We already saw the robust acceptance and usage of the ‘Live Streaming’ and ‘360 Degrees Videos’ in 2016 and there is no reason this will slow down in 2017.
  • With more segmented content tailored to your specifications, the User of 2017 will see an uptick in engagement activities thereby encouraging the prospects of content marketers out there.
  • We’ve always thought of email marketing as a dying tool in this varied marketing environment. However due to the personalized settings of many email services, the actual value derived from an e-newsletter is going up along with the ‘email open rates’ increases in certain instances. This is good news for email marketers.
  • Purpose is the often the key for getting it right for marketers across the globe. Purpose driven content has bridged the gap between User problems/issues and remedial measures which in turn creates a symbiotic relationship between the content and the audience. Watch out for more ‘How to……’ content in the year of 2017.
  • The general acceptance of mobile friendly formats will leap into the realm of ‘necessity’ rather than its ancillary nature in the past. With 65-70% of all internet activity projected to emanate from mobile devices, it is only imperative that designers start building mobile friendly interfaces from the get go.
  • With the changing of the rules of post reach by many media powerhouses like Facebook, the ability to achieve a purely organic growth and reach will become more and more difficult. Advertisers will have to spend more money and innovate more with online marketing strategies to achieve the desired visibility.
  • We will also see a greater emphasis on Storytelling aspect of various strategies in 2017. With a saturated viewer who has access to a growing content pool, the story board will become a primary focus for many marketers who seek to engage with the audience in a more value driven format. Virtual Reality is just one aspect which is providing major players with an engaging and thrilling content to keep the user engaged, albeit this technology is still capital intensive which makes this an expensive proposition for small and medium players.

 

These are just some of things which we can expect from content evolution in 2017 using 2016 as a Launchpad for our projections. However in this mad dash for content supremacy, we sure can expect many surprises from 2017 in the world of Content Marketing which can’t be quantified today. We hope you’re content with our attempt at predicting what lies ahead. Please do write to us if you’d like to share your thoughts about the same.