Distributing content through paid, owned and earned media

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Creating content is one thing, but how do you ensure that the content gets read? That was the theme of the April CMA Digital Breakfast which was titled ‘Distributing Content Through Paid, Owned and Earned Media.’ Watch video highlights of the breakfast at the bottom of the page.

First to speak was Neilson Hall, CEO and Co-Founder at Illuminate. Neilson started with a little personal background explaining that he has been in digital marketing for 12 years, originally in search but now as much in strategy. He recently set up a digital marketing consultancy.

Neilson suggested that “clients tend to silo some of their channels (owned, earned and paid for)” which is wrong as they need to have structure where there is overlap to enable them to share information centrally. He continued “what works with one channel will often work for another. It is hard to put channels in a box.” He gave as his example SEO which is covered by earned media in some agencies, but in others it is owned.

Neilson then explained that he was going to cover four areas; ‘distribution strategy, insourcing, tools and tech and the future.’


Distribution strategy

Kicking off with distribution strategy Neilson explained that 74% of marketers do not have a defined content marketing strategy. Neilson added that sometimes this was held by the branding agency and not given to performance channels.

To illustrate this point Neilson used the case study of Bremont Watches. He explained that they had a brand strategy that was seemingly at odds with what they were doing digitally. “Online they were not getting traction,” added Neilson. “So, they wanted to change that and wanted to do proof of concept on the America’s Cup.

Neilson explained that the first task was to assess the competition and look at audience insights. “There was lots of data, on audiences and demographics but it was not being used.”

Bought – looking at PPC insights, paid social insights

Owned – webmaster console had been over looked, but was good for data

Earned – the brand mined Twitter, Facebook and blogger influencers etc

Bremont then moved on to stage two – pre-campaign awareness prior to the America’s Cup Race.  They had a dilemma in that they wanted to feature in search engines, but didn’t want to give too much content away. So as Neilson outlined the company built a generic landing page about race and started building links to generic content. When the campaign launched, content was more specific to the campaign.

Bremont also relied on native advertising telling the story in an engaging way. For earned media Bremont used influencers to put out teasers and predictions etc, and on the day before the race they created a one minute long emotive video which was placed on YouTube.

The third stage was the actual launch of the campaign and Bremont harnessed bought media and bid on terms on high value. Earned media also released the details about the brand heroes such as Tom Hardy etc

Trying to get longevity was the main theme of stage four with, post campaign follow up, interviews with winners with the articles used in native advertising.

Ultimately though the biggest change from Bremont was the way in which they assessed the success of the campaign. They focused on customer metrics eg cost per second etc, dwell times, etc, leads and conversions. The campaign was deemed to be a success and Bremont has created a business case for future campaigns.

Keeping up to date

Neilson then went on to tackle the issues of insourcing explaining that only 32% of clients do not have an internal marketing solution. Brand and strategy is owned by clients – “where clients need help from an agency is from an execution point of view – largely as a resource to amplify the voice of the brand,” he argued.

Neilson also stressed the importance of keeping up to date with the latest tools and tech as they sometimes evolve in interesting ways. An example is Skyword – which was all about managing freelancers and now is a way you can engage effectively with people in the social sphere.

Finally, Neilson looked to the future and predicted total market upheaval – with clients moving more toward owned media rather than relying on amplification through other sources. He also cited AI content based articles – infographics, blog posts – which are in their infancy but could have major impact.

Tricks and tips

Next to speak was Vincent Haywood, Founder of VHDigital. Vince began by talking about content hacking and offered a series of tips, tricks and hacks to get content seen. He explained that he has recently set up a consultancy VHDigital, and works with agencies and brands on strategies and executions e.g. Nike, Harry Potter.

He began by stressing that “not distributing your content is like shouting in an empty room.” However, he admitted that “repurposing, scheduling, data mining, targeting and production – all takes time.”

Vincent stressed the importance of data and how it should be used to work out a formula for your content and help you build better content plan. Content marketers need to ask where are the audience, what are they interested in what do they react to, when are they online?

He then suggested several tools that marketers could use.

Fanpage Karma – this looks at formats that are working on their page, what is resonating with audience, engagement rates need compared with competitors etc.

Word Cloud – this gives insight into topics that gives more engagement – it enables users to see how people post and how active their audience is.

Answer the public – this is a free tool which based on Google searches and will show you the different content that people are asking around a topic. Similarly, Vincent added that marketers could use Google by asking ‘How does’ – and then seeing how the search engine autocompletes the question.

Buzzsumo – this is a social-driven tool that illustrates what headlines have the most shares – the headlines that work. It is useful for social and shows who shared the most.

Demographics Pro – this is a tool that’s good for insight and pitches. It digs into Twitter details – takes information from a Twitter bio, a person’s tweets etc to give a picture of them.

Getting it out there

Vincent also made suggested the audience evaluate consider the ‘Skyscraper technique’ for their posts

1. Find out what is the top post in your topic

2. Write a better one – add stats, animations, make it a wordy post

3. Find out who linked to original blog posts, who are they?

4. Scrape their email address from LinkedIn sales navigator – and then use Hunter.io email them. Write a well thought article, be personal, updates posts use stats etc.

Vince also suggested that the audience duplicate their content on Slideshare and explore other traffic sources including; FlipboardStumbleupon and Reddit

Make sure you listen

The morning’s last speaker was Alec McCrindle, Creative Director at Yahoo Studio EMEA who spoke about content from Yahoo and Tumblr.

Alec’s first key bit of advice was “if you don’t have much value to add, figure out how to add volume, if not just listen.”

Alec then said that one of the most important things about Tumblr is its level of audience engagement. Though he added that brands make mistakes by emulating another content creator on Tumblr and other media too. Again, he reiterated “if you are not adding something a conversation – don’t do it just listen.”

He did suggest that marketers keep tabs on Tumblr by keeping an eye on Popular-content.tumblr.com  Alec believes that what happens on Tumblr often informs the rest of the Internet and to illustrate this he pointed out that GIFs were huge on Tumblr before anywhere else.

Alec then use as a case study the page Mensweardog. The creator works for a fashion label and dressed the dog up. He then asked why is this popular? Alec believes that it is because it is different and creative. Everyone loves dogs but the dog is on trend in what it is wearing and the hashtags accompanying the post reflect what was fashionable. Cleverly the creator mixes broad and niche tags.

Alec then ran through some do’s and don’ts which he said are inspired by Tumblr, but apply to most social content.

He said marketers should talk to people like normal people. He used as his example Nike which speaks in a very specific engaging way. Alec also pointed out the difference between Nike on Instagram and Tumblr, with the latter being more creative and fun on Tumblr.

Alec then said marketers needed to be creative, to add value to blog posts, quality first quantity second.


He pointed the audience to Denny’s Tumblr account – which he says boasts an innovative social strategy. They don’t post much but when they do post they create excellent visual puns about their core topic – breakfasts.

Alec also said we need to communicate more visually, starting to use GIFs or other images and index them in our language, speaking using visual content, trigger the long-term engagement – utility.

He said brands needed to start to work more with artists, making something that is visually creatively distinctive,

Alec concluded by offering three key takeaways

Give people three reasons to share – and use both popular and niche tags

Use data – but be creative for the channel

Join conversations like a normal person would

Commissioned by The CMA

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