MediaMedia BuyingLong Live Long-Form: The Hidden Value of Blogs

Long Live Long-Form: The Hidden Value of Blogs

Marketers shouldn't discount the power of long-form blogs because they're conducive to high levels of engagement from potential consumers.

Blogs have long been part of the content marketing conversation. But with exciting storytelling formats like brand magazines and films getting all the buzz these days, one has to ask: are blogs still as useful to advertisers as they used to be?

Last year, digital data collection provider Research Now conducted a study in the U.K. on blogs’ influence on consumers. It found that the decades-old medium still has pull. According to Research Now, two out of three people read blogs at least several times a week. What’s more, 45 percent have reached out to a blogger to inquire about a product when considering a purchase, and 84 percent buy products based on the content they find on blogs.

Armed with the knowledge that consumers still count blogs among their go-to sites, advertisers continue to incorporate sponsored blog posts and native ad placements into their digital campaigns. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 80 percent of B2B marketers include blogs in their content marketing strategy – an increase over 2014. That said, just 60 percent of surveyed marketers consider them effective.

There are a number of reasons why they’re not seeing the results they seek, but new research points to one in particular. Most sponsored posts offered by publishers are sold on a 30-day basis. After a month, the content comes down – and so, too, does the advertiser’s return on investment.

Ted Murphy, chief executive (CEO) of content development and influencer marketing at IZEA, believes that blogs could perform much better if publishers would treat them more like editorial content. He bases this theory on a two-year long analysis of the lifespan of blog posts. The study, commissioned by IZEA and conducted by Halverson Group, found that blog posts continue to drive traffic and generate impressions up to 700 days after they go live.

Therefore, the lifespan of a post is almost 24 times the current common measurement of 30 days. While blog post traffic spikes within the first week, and nearly three quarters of all impressions are generated in its first month online, posts continue to drive traffic two years later.

“We knew from looking at our campaigns that there was long-term value outside of that 30-day window,” Murphy says, “but we haven’t had definitive data to back it up. Now we know that blogs continue to deliver for years.” One of the biggest benefits of long-form content is that it’s indexed by search engines and becomes part of a site’s archives in perpetuity. By taking sponsored posts down too soon, Murphy says, publishers are limiting their potential and selling their advertisers short. “My hope is that people will look at how they’re creating and measuring campaigns, both on the buy and sell side, to maximize for long-term value.”

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When brands are producing blog content, or working with bloggers and publishers to create sponsored posts, most are already keeping the relevance and timeliness of their material top of mind. We know – and IZEA’s study confirms – that contests and content related to sweepstakes engage consumers for a shorter period of time than evergreen content like recipes and thought-leadership posts. Giving content that has staying power a longer life online is bound to boost its performance. If a sponsored post does well off the bat and delivers ongoing value to the reader, Murphy says, why not let it live on and archive it right along with everything else? Doing so could make blog posts an even more worthy investment for brands.

In our era of short-form, “snackable” content, where social media posts and pithy mobile videos thrive, it’s natural to think of long-form as outmoded. That simply isn’t the case.

BuzzSumo’s 2014 analysis  of more than 100 million articles taught us that content between 3,000 and 10,000 words receives the most social shares – even though publishers are producing 16 times more short-form content than long. Blog posts may take more effort to produce, but they’re effective, in demand, and can have a big impact on consumers.

“This gets back to a bigger question about how advertisers look at digital campaigns,” Murphy says, pointing to the growing popularity of such short-form friendly platforms as Snapchat and Vine. “A lot of them overlook the fact that blog posts have a much slower decay rate. It’s nice to get a quick bump on Instagram, but you’re not going to find anything that delivers long-term value like a blog.”

In other words, long live the long-form blog post. It has earned a place of honor in marketers’ campaigns.

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