Insight from RAMetrics
In today’s media landscape, brands are seeking to have different and more in-depth conversations with their target consumers. They want to convey brand purpose in a more authentic way – and some even want to talk to consumers about subjects that can be too niche for most advertising campaigns. These new strategies have given rise to the amount of branded content that is published, despite this there is a lack of data regarding the impact and effectiveness of content marketing.
In advertising, brands often operate with long-standing guidelines and shared expectations about both quality of output and consumer response, however in branded content that can be more open to debate as there is little clarity about the ‘right’ way to create high-quality and engaging content.
Using the RAMetrics database, which tests hundreds of UK news brand ads and content marketing case studies, we have done our own comparison to see how content marketing stands up to news brand advertising. To ensure robust samples, we’ve added in some digital content marketing case studies from Ireland and Sweden as their scores are consistent with UK results.
At first glance, advertising has a greater impact and as a result, higher initial engagement than content marketing across both print and digital platforms. Looking at the data, 69% of respondents recall seeing print newspaper ads, compared with 48% of respondents who read branded content in print. And 38% of respondents recall seeing digital ads while 24% read the branded content online. As we have previously found, print activity tends to score higher than digital communications.
As a result of the lower initial impact and engagement of content marketing, we found that conventional advertising further outperforms content marketing on the following measurements: respondents find it is easier to understand (47% vs 36% for content marketing), familiar (43% vs 21% for content marketing) and more interesting (34% vs 16% for content marketing).
Taking a deeper look at the readers who took notice, the narrative shifts and it gives an indication of where content marketing can be more relevant and successful than conventional advertising.
Print advertising vs printed branded content
Respondents who noticed the printed advertising and branded content, found the latter more engaging (benefit: 29% vs 40%, positive: 50% vs 54% for content marketing). They are likely to pay more attention to it (44% vs 55% for content marketing), it provokes a stronger emotional reaction (32% vs 35% for content marketing) and it’s more likely to encourage conversation around the brand (discussion 21% vs 33% for content marketing).
Digital ads vs digital branded content
Meanwhile, for the digital readers who took notice – online ads are marginally better at grabbing the viewers’ attention (47% vs 46% for content marketing), they find them easier to understand (74% vs 63% for content marketing) and encourage them to look for new information around the advertiser (35% vs 28% for content marketing).
Digital branded content
Digital content marketing on the one hand is better at encouraging discussion about the brand and/or product (24% vs 34% for content marketing). It’s more likely to induce an emotional response (33% vs 44% for content marketing) and readers tend to find it more beneficial (35% vs 40% for content marketing). It is more likely to be considered entertaining (47% vs 53% for content marketing) and its strength lies in encouraging action metrics such as encouraging visits to the advertiser (21% vs 32% for content marketing).
Printed branded content
Printed branded content tends to generate better responses than its digital counterpart – readers give it more attention (55% vs 46% for content marketing), they find it more interesting (58% vs 52% for content marketing) and they’re more likely to read it again (53% vs 50% for content marketing).
The data shows that brand recognition needs to be a serious consideration – scores for branding and familiarity metrics were considerably lower for content marketing than for conventional advertising across both print and digital.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to get the highest number of readers to engage with your campaign, the analysis suggests that conventional advertising is the way to go. However, if you’re after deeper levels of engagement with a smaller target group, who will find the content personally relevant, then branded content is worth considering.