From owned content to ad-blockers – content marketing trends

Guest vs owned content: who comes out on top?

Do you want to own your own home? Or, just rent it? Of course, the answer is pretty much always to Buy or rent question on laptop representing owned contentown, and the same is now true when it comes to owned content. Back when the web resembled the ‘Wild West’, guest content had value based on the utopian ideals of experts innocently sharing knowledge with one another. Many spammy links and poor quality guest blogs later, and the practice has been shown for what it truly is – commercialised.

And, as companies increasingly recognise the importance of content as a means to build trust and authority, Outbrain VP Gilad De Vries has stated his belief that there’s now clear water between owned and guest content. “Ownership means hosting high-quality, interesting, educating, entertaining and inspiring content on a brand’s owned online properties”, he said, while also praising the model’s potential for collecting associated data, cookie pools, utility value (which drives sales rather than just informs) and SEO and organic sharing value.

If you’re still undecided, there’s one hell of a benefits package to welcome you in. Rather than trying to shout louder than competitors on crowded ‘rented’ platforms like LinkedIn Pulse or Medium, owned content gives you the run of the place, and you can choose to publish the sort of authoritative content that generates a growing and loyal audience. 90% of brands now publish owned media, and it’s become so valuable that Jason Mlicki of Rattleback recently stated that they should be spending a massive 45% of their marketing budgets on owned content alone.

Why you need content after the sale

Marketers have long used Return on Investment (RoI) as their key metric for measuring the success of their content. But, in this brave new world of trust and authority, isn’t it time to start factoring in something a little less tangible and potentially more profitable – Return on Relationships (RoR)?

Marketing expert Dean Jackson believes we should be aiming to generate a 20% yield on RoR; equivalent to every customer returning to make another transaction, or referring someone else to do so, within five years. This requires a number of bases to be covered, with impeccable customer service and a quality product high up the pecking order. However, one thing that content marketers are only now just starting to appreciate is the need to provide quality content throughout the entire sales funnel and out the other end, long after the initial sale has been made, so that clients continue to receive attention and added value.

Content to soothe ad-blocker sores

The advent of ad-blockers threw a spanner in the works for online publishers and retailers. After years of carefully constructing sites to monetise owned content through the inclusion of ads, the model was exposed as something of a house of cards when ad-blockers came to fruition. No matter how good your advert is, people will find any excuse to reduce the number that they’re exposed to (shock-horror), which current estimates put at around 20,000 separate marketing messages each day.

The most tech-savvy (and therefore valuable) section of your audience now has both the tools and motivation to tune out from ads on your site. So, in essence, you have two options: honey or vinegar. Do you entice them to turn off their ad-blocker with alluring messages and enhanced content curation? Or, do you just deny them access to areas of your site and hope that the strength of your service will be too much of a draw? From GQ’s humorous angle to The Telegraph’s rational explanation (and even Forbes’ ad-block disable request that appears as a pop-up ad itself), publishers have already taken a novel approach towards this dilemma. Some are looking to meet their audience in the middle, with an ‘ad-light’ experience or ‘acceptable ads’ among the options currently deployed.

Ultimately, copywriters are now faced with the proposition of needing to make their owned content appear to save the end user more time or effort than the act of disabling the ad-blocker and enduring the article with undesired ads. This places additional onus on providing a definable service, which can be achieved by laying out a value proposition early on (using phrases such as “Find out how to…”, “Save money on…” etc.) and establishing authority in a more specialist niche than ever before. Essentially, it’s about instilling trust in your audience that you can chaperone them through a tunnel of noisy, brash ads and into the clear air of authentic content that will actually mean something to them.