For years, consumers have been bombarded by poorly targeted, irrelevant and repetitive digital advertising. More recently, they have been at the receiving end of fake news and untrusted content pushed out through social media.
Consumers have become more cautious and selective about the content they consume, but new research shows they are still receptive to branded content - as long as the content reflects their personality type and is delivered in their preferred tone and style.
The Content Connect II report, based on a global survey of Reuters.com users, has identified seven steps for content marketers to consider when building successful branded content campaigns;
1. Understand the audience
The most successful content marketers use audience research and data to craft stories and messages that will resonate with consumers. The first stage is to set objectives, define a purpose and identify target audiences. It is then important to understand their needs and behaviour by using a mix of consumer research and data analytics to help create good content that consumers are interested in. Content marketers need to explore potential audience demographics, psychographics, attitudes, personalities and consumer behavior. It is also a priority to understand what media and content types they are consuming and how often, and then align content types and tone with their requirements.
2. Choose the right context
The content marketer needs to consider how, when, where and why a piece of content should be placed, and make sure it is created and shared in an effective way. Our survey shows that the right contextual environment increases content appeal; 64% of global consumers agree they are more receptive to branded content when it appears on a trusted online news brand. Brands that can create and build trusted relationships with consumers using carefully selected authentic content partners can build favourability and engagement.
3. Focus on relevance and quality
Content marketers need to deliver high-quality content that is relevant and has purpose. Despite the recent rise of fake news and freely distributed misinformation, consumer interest and appeal in branded content in a trusted environment remains stable. Content Connect II reveals that 75% of global consumers are more receptive to sponsored content if the subject matter is of interest, and consumers increasingly think their favourite brands can benefit from sponsoring quality and relevant content (68% agree in 2018 vs. 60% in 2017).
4. Create an emotional connection
Creating an emotional connection with the consumer is an important consideration for the content marketer. Stories that trigger an emotional response are more likely to be consumed and shared. It's not just about the subject matter, tone and style of content should also be considered. Content Connect II reveals that 64% of global consumers consider sponsored content more appealing if it is thought-provoking, imaginative (58%), humorous (55%) and innovative (51%).
5. Align with audience personality types
As part of understanding audiences, marketers should consider the mindset and personality of their target consumers. Our research highlights the importance of style and tone in branded content, finding specific content topics appeal to different personalities. It finds, for example, that the top personality type for business and finance is ‘ambitious’, whereas arts and culture is ‘creative’, politics is ‘outspoken’ and travel is ‘spontaneous’.
6. Focus on personalisation
The most relevant content any marketer can provide is ‘personalised’, and Content Connect II reveals that 77% of global consumers expect to see more personalised content in the future. Branded content campaigns can increase their effectiveness if they include personalised elements, with 63% of global consumers agreeing that personally relevant content improves how they feel about the brand associated with it, and 58% see brands in a more positive light if they provide them with content that matches their interests.
7. Use engaging formats
Consumers no longer tolerate intrusive content and advertising formats containing irrelevant messages and products. However, they are open to new and innovative ways to engage with content, and there is increased demand for enhanced visualisation, sound and movement via the formats and platforms they connect with. So, selecting the right mix of formats is hugely important. Content Connect II revealed a mix of appealing formats for consumers with short articles (64%), in-depth analysis (60%), video (55%) and infographics (45%) the top choices.
In summary, brands should have a clear content marketing strategy in place that targets consumers with engaging, relevant content, delivered in an appealing format in the right environment. Only then will they encourage consumers to ‘lean in’ to content, rather than ‘opt out’ of advertising.
The full findings can be found on the Reuters Plus website, here.
By Mike Jeanes, research consultant at Reuters
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