The fact of the matter is that we’re living through a time of online advertising transition. P&G and other brands pulled hundreds of millions of dollars from interruptive online display and didn’t see any negative impact to sales or marketing KPIs.
It may sound cliché, but according to Solve Media, you’re more likely to . . .
. . . survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad
. . . get into MIT than click on a banner ad
. . . complete Navy SEAL training than click on a banner ad
As a result, the click economy is evolving into the content engagement-economy as I write this. Content marketers don’t really care about clicks or impressions. They care about real people actually engaging with the content they produce. Because of this, native advertising in all its forms, is leading this evolution and providing an alternative to the interruption-based cost per thousand impressions and cost per click economy. We’ve started the transition to the cost per engagement economy – and that’s a good thing for eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.
Because we’re just getting started in this transition, I thought I’d put together a list of 10 considerations step-by-step for content marketers who want to get off on the right foot and amplify their content the most efficiently possible. Also, the below is a variation of our latest ebook that does a deeper dive into how to execute content amplification. It’s free and available here to download.
1. Identifying Your Macro-Goals
So often times, marketers focus on tactics without giving much mind to macro-goals until after execution. The most successful campaigns start with the goal in mind, a strategy and then the tactics.
2. Identifying Your Objectives Based on Macro-Goals
Remember, content amplification and the content itself do not reside in silos. They are inexplicably linked, and the chosen objective should reflect that. In other words, the content being amplified and the call-to-action associated with it should lend itself to the chosen objective. Also, getting the objective right is crucial to maximizing the efficiency of the programmatic algorithms.
- Brand awareness
- Engaged time
- Store visits
- Retargeting pool growth
3. Selecting Your Optimization Goal
True native content amplification only has one optimization goal, cost per engagement (CPE). Relying on any other optimization goal breaks the symbiotic relationship between content and the native ad unit itself. Advertisers traditionally optimize towards cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC). This is problematic in an interruption-free advertising landscape.
When optimization goals are CPM or CPC the incentives realized by ad tech vendors are NOT to drive content engagement, but rather, to drive bot-prone clicks or ad impressions. As content marketers, engagement is paramount.
4. Choosing Your Content Mix to Amplify
These days advertisers have lots of options when choosing content to amplify. Sponsored content is more popular than ever, and the lines between marketing and PR are steadily blurring. As a result, all three of the below may be viable content assets to promote. It’s best to choose a mix of the three content types and let the algorithms figure out which ones’ best drive objectives.
5. Crafting Your Headlines
This is a critical creative decision. There are two approaches to writing headlines. One is to optimize towards the click and the other is optimized for content engagement. One makes consumers’ angry and the other helps drive engagement. Following the Do’s list and avoiding the Don’ts list below will help ensure headlines drive actual content engagement post click. Doing any of the Don’ts may lead to high click-through rates but will most likely drive poor content engagement.
6. Choosing Images
This is also a critical creative decision. It’s generally the images that stop consumers from scrolling their feeds to pay further attention to the native ad unit. Dimensions for images will vary slightly based on the channel the ad unit is being ran on.
- Use up close photographs with faces (heatmap studies show that when eyes physically look at the call to action it gets more clicks)
- Incorporate familiar imagery
- Use brand-appropriate colors
- Be consistent from ad unit to content
- Trigger emotions
7. Adding Your Next-Step Calls to Action (CTAs) in the Content
Map the buyer’s journey to content for next action post-engagement – top, middle and/or bottom-funnel content. Very few marketers doing content amplification use technology to dynamically surface up appropriate CTAs based on macro goals.
Marketers looking for conversions should use a lower-funnel next action prompt. Awareness goals should focus on other recommended content CTAs to get users to continue reading multiple articles. Consideration goals are tracked and measured using surveys that ask users a customizable question like: Are you more likely to consider BRAND after reading this? If the native ad unit points to top-funnel content, use a call-to-action to suggest content or further action down funnel after on-page engagement occurs.
8. Let Your Content Drive Targeting
With the advent of artificial intelligence, the traditional ways of targeting have evolved. Targeting used to be an exercise in deploying educated guesses with trial and error over time regarding demographics, devices, interests, etc. When targeting for engagement KPIs it’s a best practice to target wide while choosing interest segments that align closely with the content being promoted and let the AI test the multiple variations over time. The technology can target better, quicker and more efficiently than a human.
For example, if the brand is a smart phone, targeting all relevant topics mentioned in the content, the product in the article, brands in the article, and relevant topics is a best practice to drive engagement because those folks are likely interested in it.
9. Test and Optimize Everything
The use of AI technology in a content DSP is the best and most efficient way of testing and optimizing. Doing it by hand over time can be very labor intensive, inefficient, and costly.
Content works differently across inventory sources (40+), demographics, devices, etc. over time. Just because one of the aforementioned didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean it won’t work in the future. With AI all combinations of the below can be tested and retested over the life of a campaign.
- Channels and inventory sources
10. Rinse and Repeat
Advertising as we know it has changed forever and there’s no going back. While the average television executive spends $5 on content distribution for every $1 they spend on distribution, the average content marketer does the opposite. If brands want to embrace our new advertising reality of not interrupting people, the marketing approach must change. Following the steps in this guide will help marketers adapt and thrive in the new landscape.
Don’t forget – a more comprehensive version of the step-by-step detail can be downloaded for free in our latest ebook.