How Marketers Can Solve Content Marketing’s ROI Problem
Digiday | September 18, 2018 - When Bill Gates first declared that “content is king” in a 1996 essay, he couldn’t have known just how right he would be. Today’s marketers intuitively and unquestioningly understand that they need content. However, once they create that content, they then have no idea how to measure the return on their investment, much less determine what types, lengths, formats and placements work best.
Over the past two decades, content marketing and digital advertising have ascended hand-in-hand to their positions of marketing supremacy, with the former providing necessary fuel for the latter. Conservative figures by Forrester estimated that U.S. marketers spent more than $10 billion on content marketing in 2016, about half of what was spent on display advertising that year. That $10 billion figure surpassed online video advertising spend (estimated at $9.2 billion by Forrester) and quadrupled U.S. investment in email marketing ($2.6 billion) for 2016. In other words, marketers have been spending a great deal of money on content marketing relative to other categories, yet they’ve been failing to hold this spend to the same expectation of demonstrated ROI.
Despite riding the same societal and technological waves to prominence, content marketing and digital advertising have remained remarkably disconnected in many ways. Digital advertising has remained a defined, concentrated discipline within brand teams, its growth predicated on digital media’s infinite trackability and powerful return on investment. Meanwhile, content marketing represents a diffused, undefined discipline at many brands, a tactic whose responsibility, scope and accountability are poorly understood, if at all. Brands are spending heavily on content creation, but few CMOs today understand exactly where all that creation is happening, how content is being used and, most importantly, whether it’s moving the needle for their brands.