Part II: Takeaways on Elevating the State of Brand-Funded Content


Elevate, the industry-building retreat for brand marketers and their partners, was designed to address the opportunities and challenges facing marketers in a media environment where interruption is increasingly less effective. The Elevate Trails addressed these opportunities and challenges, each featuring a group of hand-selected advisors and partners whose strengths lie in the investment, support, distribution, and measurement of brand-funded content. Each of these topics was introduced and discussed on stage by an expert panel, followed by breakout sessions in which small group conversations amongst industry leaders aimed at developing best practices, strategies and tactics took place.

I took the opportunity to sit in on these discussions and hear what the people at the heart of the content marketing world are really talking about, from what excites them to what’s holding them back and everything in between. The following is a distillation of the discussions on the subjects of distribution and measurement into the most salient points necessary for brand marketers to be effective in their pursuit of creating effective brand-funded content for a marketing purpose.

How do you ensure your content has the right scale, and is reaching your target audience? How much media do you buy to support your initiatives vs. relying on organic reach and built-in platform scale? Discussions on this topic revolved around best connection points between your content messaging and audience through choice of distribution model, as well as how to leverage distribution audience insights in the creative process to ensure audience engagement and impact.

  • It can be tempting to lead with format first but allowing format to inform the idea behind content is backwards. Get to the heart of the idea, then dictate which format suits the idea best.

  • Leadership often demands a distribution plan in the early stages of the content pipeline – answer this but try not to lock yourself into a corner.

  • As much as one might try, there’s a PR component to distribution that can’t be ignored. It also requires a response and solution early, so arm yourself with an answer.

  • Putting distribution first should be looked at as synonymous with putting the consumer first (and putting the consumer first is everyone’s bottom line).

  • ​Connect the content idea with the appropriate format early, and you’ll meet the consumer where they live.

  • Creatives are hesitant to jump into the media conversation with brands, likely because of experiencing being met with resistance in early stages of the collaborative process.

  • ​The brand-side can respond by not pushing too many ideas too early and remaining flexible and open to hearing where creative is coming from.

  • Creative can respond by getting a representative from the brand creative side involved early

  • Content type and distribution go hand-in-hand.

  • ​Different ideas should garner different content which should live on the platform best suited to that content.

  • Avoid attempting to recycle content by posting it on multiple platforms.​

  • Successful distribution and long-term success requires putting “money in the gas tank.”

  • ​Paid promotion for distribution is paramount.

  • Finding the opportune timing, pricing, and duration of paid promotions will result in greater success.

  • Seeing an uptick demands “fueling the fire” further.

  • How do you find your audience?

  • Find similar fans to the ones you have currently and seed them.

  • Make an appeal to local audiences.

  • Create room for interactivity and see who participates.

  • Seek out brand advocates. People can operate on a micro-influencer scale, and though they have lower follower numbers, ultimately they have greater genuine passion.

Business goals and KPIs may differ, but how do we find a common denominator when it comes to measurement of content efficacy? In doing so, how do brands win a wider slice of the media pie? This discussion delved into determining which indicators to bring back to the C-Suite to prove a return-on-investment and secure budgets, as well as introduced the conversation surrounding the creation and use of uniform measurement standards for determining the ‘success’ of a campaign.

  • Utilize 3rd party research to prove success.

  • In this way, you can avoid handpicking data that makes a piece look good in a vacuum and instead focus on objective data successes.

  • Translate data to renewals by allowing the findings to inform the next idea at every level.

  • In the ideation process, focus the distribution platform, content, scale, and reach that align themselves with the data gathered from previous measured successes.

  • Building on success rather than going back to the drawing board is a way to get the most value out of investing in measurement tools from the outset and will be more likely to lead to work that continues to resonate with core audiences and the growing audience.

  • Comments from the audience matter.

  • When audience anecdotes and data disagree, audience anecdotes win; lots of direct feedback from a valued audience has to count for more than abstract measurements

  • People tend to find some metric to focus on as “positive” and avoid negative results in measurement. Avoid spin in measurement by setting KPI’s early and sticking to them.

  • Try implementing an internal measuring system that is a composite of multiple factors.

  • Identify the key performance indicators that are most important to your brand/business, compile them, and distill those multiple measurements to a “grade”.

  • This is a great way to communicate the value of certain measurements that don’t always translate to team members outside of the data circle or the C-suite.

  • Measurement is becoming another “sale cycle”, wherein data is used to inform the value proposition of reinvesting in more of the same or similar content.

  • Take ownership of this moment and make it work for you. Use it as an opportunity to appeal for more creative opportunity and expansion rather than less.

  • Many feel measurement has become a trophy, but “good measurement” itself is not the key performance indicator that should draw all of the positive focus and attention.

  • Finding correlations between specifically measured items and how they relate to the piece of content that was measured should yield conclusions that influence and inspire evolution of the next content proposal

  • Avoid running into the “sales/trophy” mentality on measurement by turning to a partner.

  • Incorporate a 3rd party not only to measure, but to present on measurement in order to provide unbiased objectivity.

About Jordan Kelley

Jordan Kelley (Content Director, Brand Storytelling) is a writer/editor intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content.

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