Content, content, content: a big time sap for marketers?

Many marketers are struggling in managing the mass of content that they are required to publish across media channels, according to a new global study from Accenture.

Of the 1,078 senior marketers surveyed across 17 countries, 53 percent said that they spend more time on operational details—including, but not limited to, requirements documentation, securing legal and leadership approval and content tagging—rather than core marketing and branding activities.

What’s more is that 80 percent of marketers questioned said they believe this chore will only become bigger over the next two years.   

“Content is making its way to the executive agenda, as many New Zealand brands – irrespective of industry – have woken up to the importance of content to deliver great customer experiences,” says Ben Morgan, Accenture’s interactive lead for New Zealand.

While the study did not include any local marketers, Vodafone’s head of brand and insights, Louise Kuegler, says the telco is also producing more content than it ever has in the past.

“We certainly see content creation as a key communications stream,” Kuegler says. “This could be anything from a soundbite to deep thought leadership on a variety of issues that our customers face or are interested in, such as digi-parenting, digital disruption or technology innovation in business.”

In a fragmented media environment, each piece of this content plays a role in communicating the brand to both consumers and potential consumers across a range of touchpoints. And while this is good for brand awareness, it can be nightmare to manage effectively.   

What’s more is that marketers are required to deal with a growing pile of content each year, which in turn increases the administrative burden.

To put this into perspective, 92 percent of those surveyed said they have more digital content than two years ago, 83 per cent predict the volume will further increase in the next 24 months, and 50 percent have more content than their marketing organisations can effectively manage. 

“With customer experience becoming the new battleground, it is imperative that brands are able to provide consistent, compelling and personalised content through any channel to ensure they are delivering the experience customers expect,” says Morgan.

Kelli Leaning, a senior direct marketing manager at Spark, believes the need for content has been driven by consumers now expecting more tailored messages. 

“The days of spray and pray marketing are behind us and customers expect to receive a tailored and personal experience at every touchpoint,” she says. 

This places the onus on marketing teams to develop to a wide spread of creative executions under the banner of a single campaign in a bid to reach a broad spread of demographic segments. 

“The challenge is how to produce and centralise content in a way that the same assets can be utilised across multiple channels, rather than different channel owners creating their version of the story,” she says.

Leaning believes the answer to this issue lies in technology. 

“The proliferation of marketing technology today means there are now many solutions available to help make this easier, allowing us to develop content that is dynamic so we can make changes at scale depending on what channel it’s being consumed in and who is viewing it, saving our teams a lot of time.”

Leaning isn’t alone in relying on technology platforms to expedite some of the more tedious processes related to content management. Morgan says that many local companies are making the transition, and that “a few have also progressed to being able to test multiple versions of content with a select group of customers to drive stronger commercial and customer outcomes”.

What this means is the the tidal wave of content being distributed through the internet is only going to get bigger over time. The more efficient businesses become as online publishers, the more flooded consumers’ newsfeeds become. 

But this all raises the question: where does it stop? There is only so much Kiwis can consume. And the enormous output of brands when viewed alongside the content machines at TVNZ, NZME, MediaWorks and Fairfax creates a torrent of information unlike any ever seen in history.

In the context of all that noise, it almost seems more worthwhile to hold back and create something that viewers will actually choose to watch, a piece of storytelling that really engages. This is certainly the approach preferred by Apple, which incidentally also uses a significant amount of television advertising.

Whether other brands follow suit is yet be seen. But in much the same way that long-form journalism is having a resurgence in response to the onslaught of clickbait, there certainly does seem to be room for brands who focus on quality advertising rather than and endless stream of meaningless content.  

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