With increasing competition in a global, 24-hour consumer marketplace, brands have been forced to strategize beyond mere advertising to attract and retain customers; the idea of “build it and they will come” is a notion of the past. As consumers have practically shut-out advertising, on TV, computers, etc., companies have transitioned to engage consumers in meaningful, relevant ways, to establish brand loyalty–the kind that makes consumers want to tell their friends about you. Hence, content marketing as a strategy for brands hoping to establish real connections with targeted audiences, beyond the product, has only grown in popularity in recent years and continues to be the primary focus for marketing strategists today.
Generating content is only as effective as the medium through which it will be published. Whether it’s a video, blog, or an article in a magazine, marketers must develops ways to convey relevant, consistent information with customers. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing as of late.
Instead of using money on purchasing media space, companies are investing their resources into establishing their own media brands. By taking their fates by reins, companies have to decided to create the conversations rather than be a part of it.
Consider Airbnb, for example. The shared-economy giant, which currently boasts millions of listings across 190 countries, created a magazine around the idea of community and cultural exchange. The company then distributed the magazine to hosts, reaching consumers who’ve already made the decision to use its product, increasing the likelihood of retention. Furthemore, it’s not just Airbnb perpetuating this trend. Marriott, a national hotel chain and more traditional hospitality company, is doing the same–creating personalized media platforms to further engage users of its product. A greater testament to the genius idea is that the publications, like the Marriott Traveler, will begin selling its native ad space to third party companies, creating another source of income rather than paying someone else to advertise their product.
Though fundamentally different, this move among the aforementioned brands is not unlike media companies such as YouTube, Amazon and Netflix, all of which have expanded their services to include native content. Though each company began as a platform for content from traditional media sources, they’ve turned to developing their own award-winning material to rival those which they service. Both of the examples signal a shift in the landscape of media with regard to diversification and boundaries. Companies are no longer focusing on one facet of their brand, their expanding what it means, where it makes sense to do so.
While none of this points to the erasure of traditional media which have established audiences of their own, it should serve as a wake up call, even if it means focusing on branded content as well. The New York Times is already leading the way, with the launch of its Paid Post platform, last year. By getting companies to sponsor content rather than simply putting banners on the side, the paper proved that Paid Post was just as relevant to readers as the paper’s editorial content. Solidifying that consumers are ready and willing to participate when the content is meaningful to the product and to them.