Study Suggests Businesses are Spending More on Content Marketing Over Ads



People are scrolling past advertisements because consumers don’t trust advertisements. No one wants to be told what to do, and in the case of most advertising, people are told to buy.


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A recent study by Google revealed that 56% of its online ad impressions are never actually seen by users. This suggests a problem in the way impressions have been analyzed traditionally, because the vast majority of advertisers equate ad impressions with a view count.

The two are not always the same, however, since an impression is defined by the Media Rating Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau as 50% visibility of an ad on a screen for at least one second. Odds are, 50% visibility for at least one second doesn’t always correlate with an actual view from a potential customer.

More and more frequently these days, Internet users are ignoring ads and scrolling past them in order to get to the content they actually want to see. Internet users have been exposed to ads for so long that not only do traditional forms of advertising barely create conversions anymore but users don’t even look at ads to see what’s being sold.

People are scrolling past advertisements because consumers don’t trust advertisements. No one wants to be told what to do, and in the case of most advertising, people are told to buy. In fact, 68% of consumers described online ads as “annoying,” and 54% believe that ads like web banners don’t work at all. When the message is always the same, people stop paying attention.

In the internet’s youth, this form of blunt advertising was the form of advertisement. Everyone did it, and it worked. But the internet is growing up and maturing, and blunt advertising is no longer attracting consumers. Not only are businesses confronting a consumer market that is increasingly developing “ad-blindness,” but online advertisements themselves are corrupt — or at least measured by corrupt standards.

Ad fraud is a huge problem online that led to a total loss of $18.5 billion in 2015. Caused by automation and anonymity, advertising companies boost their stats by creating artificial views, and 25% of businesses can’t detect it, so they end up paying more (many companies measure ad success on a per-view basis rather than per-sale). Even those businesses that can find fraud can’t catch everything.

The market is starting to catch onto this trend of advertising failure, and businesses are using a new form of advertising that more successfully captures consumers’ attention: content marketing. Similar to the way design and branding are becoming increasingly user-centric, advertising is becoming consumer-centric to better reach its audience.

Content marketing is a form of advertising that, most importantly, doesn’t feel like advertising. Rather, it’s the process of providing content that consumers want to have. That can mean creating a blog with curated articles suited to your customers, creating a community around your business, or developing programs that are tailored to your consumers’ needs.

The reason that content marketing is so effective is that it is a win-win for both businesses and consumers. Businesses reach consumers in a successful and measurable way, and consumers learn about businesses through content and information that is pertinent and useful to them.

In a report entitled “The Eclipse of Online Ads,” author Rebecca Lieb notes that “content marketing, and its underlying content strategy, has emerged as the savior in the new marketing hierarchy as leaders seek alternatives to paid media cohorts that no longer produce tangible business results… [W]hen marketers focus instead on the content needs and expectations at each stage of the customer journey, they’re rewarded with new opportunities for engagement, sales, and retention.”

The success of content marketing then is that it allows businesses to connect with consumers in a more organic way, and companies are catching on to its higher success rate. According to Marketo, 79% of companies now use social media for content marketing, and 78% post articles relevant to their business on their own website.

Those are just two forms of content marketing among many, and most companies leverage multiple forms of content marketing to attract more business. Even companies with 10 employees or less use an average of 6 different content marketing tactics.

To finance this new form of marketing, companies are shifting their budgets to focus more on content. In fact, the number one problem cited by companies regarding content marketing is creating enough content to achieve their desired scale.

To combat this issue and reach the breadth they are looking for, businesses are building their own teams: Marketo reveals that 97% of companies use in-house content marketing teams, and 45% use in-house teams exclusively. Furthermore, content marketing makes up the majority of the average business’s marketing budget today (13% of the budget, followed by digital advertising at 11%), according to a study by IBM and CMO Club.

These numbers will only increase, as 51% of B2B marketers and 50% of B2C marketers predict even larger internal budgets for content marketing in 2016.

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