Debunking the Myths of Online Content Amplification
ADOTAS — The Internet has made it easy for advertisers to turn their creative teams loose, creating assets that help spread a brand’s message, themes and value propositions to their audience. So while brands (and their creative agencies) are turning out lots of interesting, engaging content, they can’t just put it online and hope that consumers find it. They need to push the content through content amplification.
While it’s an important component of any online marketing plan, content amplification is still an area of uncertainty for many brands. Many still stick to one amplification channel, or don’t know what they can amplify or how audiences will respond. Here are a few misconceptions and the facts marketers need to know.
Content amplification is restricted to social.
The rise of social networks has led many to believe that content amplification is synonymous with social sharing. While these two tactics are related, social sharing is only a form of content amplification. They are not interchangeable terms, and content amplification goes far beyond the social networks.
Yes, marketers have unlimited options for pushing their content to audiences now via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. But those channels are increasingly crowded, so while they may be free, marketers are struggling to reach audience. Facebook has even changed its News Feed model, to the point where the average brand saw a 44 percent drop in organic reach.
All that adds up to reason to expand outside of the social networks and into display. I’m not talking about typical IAB display units. Rather, advertisers need to address other options for marketing their content in placements that appear close to other related kinds of content.
Content amplification units are often found at the bottom of articles, and they can promote internal content from the site carrying the unit, as well as external content from paying brand advertisers and publishers.
Only brand-made content can be amplified.
Not true. In fact, brands may get a better response from consumers when they spread content created by others.
Internet savvy consumers can spot advertising from a mile away. Content amplification allows brands to spread good messages about their brand that developed organically, whether it’s journalistic content produced by reporters, or content created by brand advocates. When the message comes from a third party, consumers respond far better than if it was a straight marketing pitch.
It’s not that this is necessarily a new approach – film releases often include quotes from critics in their TV spots. Online, those same companies could link directly to positive reviews. The burst in social review sites makes it easy for local businesses like restaurants or boutique stores to spread their favorable reviews around. When combined with geo-targeting to reach local readers, these advertisers are spreading relevant news to their target consumers.
Press releases spread news.
Speaking of sharing the news, a lot has changed in the world of media relations. Years ago, whenever a company wanted to share news, they issued a press release and journalists would pick up the story and write something. The journalists were the gatekeepers, and their coverage validated the story in the public’s eyes. That content was extremely valuable.
Unfortunately, press releases are largely ineffective today. Journalists, especially those working online, may read a release, but they’ll almost never write a story if the news is coming to them in that form. As a content amplification tool, the press release is dead.
Instead of relying on a wire service and then a journalist, brands should build a story that they can share with consumers via ads. Big retailers can use the same geo-targeting described earlier to spread the news about a new store opening in the consumer’s area.
Native advertising is the same as amplification.
Of course, brands should amplify the content they produce, whether that’s microsites, blog posts, videos, or special social profiles. In fact, brands should even think about buying advertising to raise awareness for their high-touch customized ad executions.
We’re in the midst of a rise in “native” executions and advertorial content, and the brands that pay for those placements want to attract as many eyeballs as possible and build buzz. For instance, look at this recent advertorial from Newcastle on Deadspin, where the tongue is placed very firmly in cheek.
It’s a humorous execution that is designed to get people to talk about the tone and nature of the approach. Deadspin, a Gawker property, does a good job promoting this paid content on its own site, as you can see above. Even though this is an advertisement, Newcastle could further amplify this placement by running additional, lower-cost ads on other sites that link directly to the content. They could even split the cost with the publisher, because they’re driving more traffic to the site — if it’s a highly-engaged audience, they’re likely to stick around.
Brands are emphasizing great content these days, whether it is self-produced online collateral for consumers, or organic content produced by journalists and social fans. Simply letting this content sit there is not enough – brands need to continue to spread their message to reach the largest audience.
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