The Most Likely Causes of Content Campaigns Failing to Deliver (and the Solution)

Content Amplification

The World Media Group recently released the results of a content-centric survey where they asked brands, agencies and media content studios from around the world their thoughts around content-led campaigns. The results of the survey shouldn’t be much of a surprise to those of us in the content business with one exception – the causes of failure.

A Look at the Numbers

While the three parties don’t agree on what causes content campaigns to fail, nearly half of the respondents said that more than 50% of the campaigns they work on are now content-driven. In addition, 78% believe that investment in content will grow over the next two years. When it comes to success factors, respondents credited audience and media alignment, and brand alignment.

Brand engagement was chosen by 49% of respondents when asked what content campaigns are best for. They continued and cited “the story” and “authenticity” as the number one and two most important factors when creating a content campaign. As previously mentioned, these numbers aren’t too surprising.

However, what is surprising is the order in which the groups surveyed blame as causes for content failure. The study itself points out that agencies and media content studios seem to be blaming the brands for having a poor strategy and brands blame the aforementioned for having poor creative.


Media Support is Key for Content Performance

Now back to the two most important factors when creating a content campaign… Any of these groups could create the most authentic and greatest story, but if nobody sees it it’s a failure. These two factors inherently do not make a campaign successful. This is the “build it and they will come” organically philosophy. That might have worked last decade, but those days are long gone for most. They are important factors, but there’s one factor even more important – lack of media support (distribution/amplification).

Here’s the thing, a marketer could have poor inauthentic content and amplify the hell out of it. The performance of that content would be in a scaled feedback loop because so many consumers have seen and engaged with the content. That feedback loop informs content quality, the story, authenticity, and ultimately, the entire content campaign. Ryan Skinner of Forrester once said in a report, “Better distribution [amplification] improves content’s quality, as the feedback cycle accelerates.”

Content amplification should be considered the number one success factor because without it a marketer would be organically competing with countless other content assets across the vastness of the Internet. Most content campaigns that succeed this way do so because they already have a large organic audience they can email. The problem with this is most brands don’t have a large enough organic audience. For those brands, content campaign success is left up to luck, for the most part.

It’s similar to the lie of virality. Setting out with the sole purpose to make content go viral organically is a fool’s errand that fails 99.9% of the time. Creating content without media support (amplification) today is like the “viral” trend in the industry early this decade.


When it comes to the top reasons content campaigns fail cited by each of the groups mentioned above –  poor creative and strategy – the feedback cycle from content amplification (media support) informs how to adjust both to improve. The most important factors for creating a content campaign mentioned above – the story and authenticity – do not inform on the quality of creative or the strategy. Content amplification does. The best content and creative in the world is still a failure if nobody sees it or engages with it. It’s surprising that most of the marketers surveyed didn’t acknowledge this.

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