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Content Is a Tangible Media Strategy

  |  June 14, 2011   |  Comments

How to plan for content as part of a brand's media mix.

"Content as King!" is a common theme for digital, social, and mobile strategies these days. As media professionals, we tend to assume content is handled by the creative and brand teams, a separate element from planning and buying. Don't fall into that trap; media can fuel a strategic content approach.

Digital marketing efforts should be about creating value for the consumer and encouraging engagement with your brand; essentially putting content at the forefront of planning. Think about it, most marketing strategies already center on creating ownership of online content or using advanced targeting capabilities to align your message with the most appropriate editorial content.

As social media tactics become more integral to your media plan, content will be one of the most important aspects of the consumer experience and the lines begin to blur between pure marketing messages and creating a relationship. This means, as marketers, we need to plan for content as part of the media mix.

Content Is a Tangible Media Strategy

So what do I mean by content as media? It's not a new concept. A content strategy relies on tying valuable content to surprising and synergistic components of your brand's attributes.

In a recent example, Gillette has developed and syndicated a program which focuses on "Men's Life Today." It covers many categories, like health and fitness, grooming, and relationships - all relevant but built for the audience - and it's not just about shaving/grooming.

Many digital media partners can help develop and syndicate content on your behalf. They typically fall into two categories: content creators and syndication platforms:

The Content Creators

Content creators are essentially publishers and authors who will work with you through a paid partnership to develop editorial on your behalf. This can range from major publishing brands (i.e., AOL/Huffington Post or HGTV) to smaller long-tail networks of blog authors (i.e., Federated Media, SAY Media) and/or content development agencies (i.e., Studio One, IdeaLaunch).

The Syndication Platforms

Syndication vehicles represent partners with the ability to distribute content efficiently across a vast network of digital placements. Content is most often distributed through a content module or hub, video players, or content suggestions tailored to consumer preferences (i.e., Outbrain).

Getting Started Is all About Clearly Defining the Goals

Push the selected media partners to develop a custom program that delivers against your objectives and ask a lot of questions:

  • Brand advocacy: Does the partner have an established and passionate community of readers, followers, or fans?
  • Audience composition and reach: Does the community represent your brand's audience demographics? Is the program scalable over a long period of time?
  • Ownership: Will you own and have the ability to distribute the content assets that are developed? Can the content be deployed on your brand website and Facebook page?
  • Relevancy: Does the content being created resonate with the partner's audience and with the major attributes of your brand?

The Benefits Are Powerful

There are several benefits to including content as part of your media strategy. Content programs often represent a much lower cost to entry than customizing creative by media channel (which can include media and creative fees).

Content media strategies ensure contextual relevance to the audience since the content is most often customized to the media partner's site or community. This provides value to the consumer along with a sense of credibility. There are also strong SEO benefits tied to eliciting more relevant content on your website and social media platforms.

I will be the first to say that media is not the standalone answer for content. The creative, messaging, and website developed for the brand are vitally important for business and commerce needs. A content strategy is an extension of the primary messaging and consumer experience elements and a nice complement to the rest of a media mix, allowing the brand to become the media.


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Jessica Richards

As an account director for Media Contacts in New York, the interactive division of Havas Digital, Jessica is responsible for strategy development and media plan execution across a variety of clients and industries. Jessica has a wide range of digital experience, managing both brand initiatives and aggressive acquisition efforts. Her knowledge extends across many facets of digital marketing from traditional media and mobile to channel planning and social execution.

Prior to Media Contacts, Jessica was at One to One interactive in Boston, managing the B2C and B2B media campaigns for several clients. Jessica's work has won several industry awards for best use of sponsorship, mobile, and display strategy.

Jessica's career expertise started at Mullen, where she was a media planner on a broad range of traditional media.

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