Article originally appeared on Inc. Magazine. Read original here.
Advertising may not have actually started in the era of AMC's hit show Mad Men, but for the sake of quickly summarizing what is actually a very complex history, let's generously say that it did. One of the first things advertisers learned to do was to make personal connections with consumers. And so each successive episode of Mad Men features its central character Don Draper imagining how to make a bottle of ketchup seem like family, or a car seem like a reliable friend.
Successive generations have caught on to advertising tricks, and none more so than today's millennial generation. As a result, brands have to find ways to speak to consumers with ever more personalized messages.
That has given rise to numerous trends in the sales and marketing communities. I spoke with Vitaly Pecherskiy, a digital marketing expert and COO of StackAdapt, about some of those developments, and in particular, about content 'performance' marketing.
Why is Content Performance Marketing so relevant today?
This is an awkward time to be a marketer. Old school ads are losing their relevance, consumers are overwhelmed with marketing messages, and questions about the return on investment are as relevant as they have ever been.
"What we've noticed over the last few years is that brands that combat their competition through brand loyalty are building much more sustainable businesses than those focused on transactional relationships with consumers," says Pecherskiy. "Rather than focusing on getting a new lead through direct response channels, increasingly we are seeing brands create content and stories that connect with consumers on their value-level, which drives long term, sustainable relationships."
The casual observer may not have noticed, but in the last decade companies have become storytelling machines. From such standouts as GoPro's epic video mashups, to the critically acclaimed video series "My Old Man" by Yeti, companies old and new have adopted branded content and storytelling as a way to grow their business.
"The issue of distributing branded content has become critical in the last two years. There is simply so much content out there and organically breaking through can be very challenging," says Pecherskiy. "The delivery of the content to the consumer has to be seamless, timely, natural, and at scale. That is what native advertising does. It places quality, value-adding content where the consumer would be looking for related material, making it intensely customized and very un-ad like."
Using native advertising platforms, brands' content is now delivered with surgeon-like precision to consumers whose online behavior suggests they may be interested in seeing it. Native advertising platforms allow companies to feature their content in thousands of media outlets and track metrics about how consumers see and engage with it. StackAdapt connects with over 45,000 publishers, which gives companies infinite options for customizing how they disseminate their content.
Good Content Takes All Shapes and Sizes
In an effort to be personal and current, large corporations have made well-publicized missteps in recent years. In 2015, Starbucks launched a campaign called "Race Together", encouraging employees to engage customers in a dialogue about race and gender relations. This was perceived by many as a ploy to leverage a sensitive conversation for commercial purposes and was widely criticized.
There are far less risky ways to advertise with personal messages, as Pecherskiy explains. "There is a wealth of data that consumers today are more likely to buy from and be loyal to brands that they feel a personal connection to. That connection can be built using informative or educational content, which we found to be influencing purchasing decisions the most. With any content, using it for building a connection is all about authenticity. Branded content distributed through a native advertising network is one of the most organic and yet powerful ways of doing that today."
Research conducted by StackAdapt also found that 55% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on content that they have read online.