The Marketing Society Forum: To keep up with the pace of change, brands have to decide how best to define and conduct their content strategies.
Each month The Forum questions members of The Marketing Society on a hot topic. For more on membership, visit www.marketing-society.org.uk.
CHRIS GORELL BARNES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND FOUNDER, ADJUST YOUR SET
Brands still have a lot to learn from leaders in the publishing world. Interruption-based, "outbound" marketing is fast losing steam, and with it the traditional brand structures.
Yes, CMOs and heads of digital are starting to recognise the value of content; but with multiple devices and platforms to satisfy - and a wealth of potential output - brands need some new, dedicated knowledge and experience at the table.
The key role isn't necessarily a head of content, but could be a head of publishing or editor, depending on the brand's need.
The future is a reshaped, always-on output comprising regular, lightweight and entertaining customer interactions. When it comes to content strategy, implementation, clever use of data, distribution and evaluation, a specialist agency worth its salt can deliver at every stage. When that agency works with a content specialist brand-side, the campaign takes off.
GERI RICHARDS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, PUBLICIS BLUEPRINT
Brands are increasingly bringing in heads of content, content directors, editorial directors and other permutations of the position. But my experience says that these roles are driven predominantly by social-media content.
The question is tied to the definition of content. We've been creating content for savvy brands for many years. For us, the context is richer, long-form content using the crafts of magazine creation and real journalism. It's not the "25-minute engagement medium" for nothing.
Social media is very important, but content is even more effective within a well-thought-out, integrated strategy, reaching out to and engaging customers to an even greater extent. I would like to see content specialists within marketing teams thinking beyond predominant social activity, and looking to leverage broader content-marketing opportunities.
JASON HUGHES, HEAD OF BRANDED CONTENT AND PRODUCT PLACEMENT, BSKYB
Looking at it, as I do, from a B2B commercial perspective, having a specialist head of content at a client, working in tandem with a lead marketer at an organisation to align the wider objectives to deliver specific campaigns, would rapidly grow the market further.
There is clearly increasing commercial investment in paid-for content to market a business or brand, targeting a captive consumer audience online.
Branded content provides the creative glue for these campaigns, bridging the gap between editorial and commercial.
Dedicated resources within an organisation's marketing team in this area means the alchemy of this creative hook has time to develop, allowing the wider marketing team the time needed to feed into wider campaign amplification.
JEMIMA BIRD, COMMERCIAL AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, MOSS BROS GROUP
The role of the marketing director/CMO has changed immeasurably over the past decade, and the pace of change is only going to get faster as technology keeps reinventing the way in which traditional marketing and customer engagement needs to interact.
Content is not just the buzzword of the moment, but also the heartbeat of what will make brands successful. It is absolutely critical that one lead marketer owns the tone of voice for the company.
Creating separate "heads" will cause possible brand conflict, with each channel fighting to own the customer, the race to be the power base an ever-present danger. Better, surely, to have one "head" responsible for all channels, ensuring a unity of tone and content communication? In an omnichannel world, an omnichannel approach is, of course, needed, so a content role is required - but is best served from one master command, not two.
MARK GIVEN, HEAD OF BRAND COMMUNICATIONS, SAINSBURY'S
Make no mistake: any brand that isn't investing in developing content risks getting left behind.
But with 80% of videos uploaded to YouTube getting fewer than 500 views, the challenge is to produce good content that gets noticed.
At Sainsbury's, our approach is to integrate content and paid-for advertising as much as possible.
At Christmas, we successfully used TV spots to drive views of our "Christmas in a day" film. Recently, we featured food bloggers in TV media, who drove customers online to try the recipes themselves.
The best campaigns use multiple agencies, executing across dozens of channels. The challenge is to weave it all together into a seamless message.
Organisation structure is only part of the answer. You need clients who have vision, courage and can foster the necessary collaboration internally and with their agency partners.
JON DAVIE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ZONE
There's a fundamental difference between producing advertising and producing content, and marketing departments need to understand and embrace both skills.
Advertising is characterised by broadcast channels, paid media, a specific campaign period and a creatively led approach. Content is characterised by interactive channels, owned media, an ongoing "always-on" commitment and an editorially led approach.
Appointing a senior executive with responsibility for content is a step in the right direction, but it's not the whole answer. An effective marketing strategy needs to combine the best of both disciplines, which means the right briefs, agency partners and budget allocation.
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