Media Buying Briefing: Media agencies look to Web3, influencers to grow content marketing

As content marketing demands grow, media and creative agencies are turning to Web3 and content creators as the way forward.

Increasingly, agencies are outsourcing their content work to freelancers to keep up with volume and produce authentic, credible content that meets client expectations. Yet there are a host of challenges in content marketing — from limited resources to a lack of industry knowledge on particular subjects.

For some media agencies, establishing specific metrics and exploring new mediums, such as Web3, have been part of the solution. More firms are experimenting with how they can invest in Web3, a model for the decentralized internet. Eric Levin, chief content officer at Publicis Media, told Digiday that content “is too broad of a term as it literally means everything” — including Web3 experiences more recently.

To bridge the gap, Publicis Media has worked with clients like Samsung, which put its flagship NYC store into Decentraland, a virtual reality platform, to get them into the metaverse.

But creating immersive content in the metaverse is only part of it, Levin added. Agencies need to get strategic about what this actually means to drive internal and external adoption with clients. To match its investments to this strategy, Publicis Media has been building out its production, Web3 and APX content ventures for opportunities outside of linear television and ad-supported or ad-free environments.

“We need to have the insights and tools to deliver meaningful content to people regardless of where they’re watching,” Levin said.

Media agencies also grow content marketing by working with content creators and social media influencers. Bill Durrant, managing director of independent Exverus Media, compared earned coverage and affiliate types of content — the latter “turns you into a true business partner with a publisher or influencer,” he said.

Because there isn’t always the space to tell a deeper story about a brand or product in performance channels, Durrant said, having affiliate content helps complement the media mix. Additionally, leveraging publishers and influencers helps them to build trust in a brand by establishing authenticity and credibility — and potentially has greater appeal with Gen Z and, to a lesser degree, millennial audiences.

“By pushing the content creation to these partners, it frees up the agency’s and the brand’s bandwidth and allows more content to be created, tested and supported,” Durrant said. “Publishers and influencers can best write about my brand and their experience with it in their authentic voice. This is especially critical now as Gen Z and millennials value authenticity.”

Generating effective content also means having the tools and metrics to dissect all the data to understand results. While search engine optimization and customer relationship management systems are widely used to understand audiences, agencies still need to turn that intel into actual content and deliver on metrics, said Allison Madell, chief collaboration officer at ad and marketing agency Bader Rutter.

“We always look for content that connects, converts and conveys the brand,” Madell said. “Is it harder to create today? Absolutely.”

What Madell’s firm realized was that integrated teams play a huge role in their content goals. Content teams need to include people of different disciplines and be “collaborative, nimble and skilled in client relations and content development,” she added. “Approach content development as a team sport. Finding a way to effectively engage multiple disciplines from SEO to analytics to UX in content creation is only going to get more important.”

Because some agencies rely heavily on content for their income, they will likely continue investing in it as part of their content strategy. One-fourth of agencies said more than half their income comes from content creation these days, according to content creation agency Verblio.

While many are outsourcing the work, holding companies like Publicis have a team of more than 300 content experts within the organization. Levin said this is the largest centralized content practice of any holding company. Although the Publicis team has nearly 10 years of experience in building content, the last two years have changed content marketing fundamentally.

“Especially over the last two [plus] years, there’s a paradox in traditional linear and there’s a lag in adoption of what’s possible in these newer spaces, like streaming,” Levin said. “In the meantime, audiences are getting used to limited commercials or no commercials and have rejected traditional approaches to these spaces.”

With the overwhelming amount of choices in content and experiences, it is up to agencies to create material that can break through. For Levin, balancing what a brand needs to convey and the voice of the partner or platform is the answer — and this is where client education will become more important than ever.

“It’s important to ground the client in the difference between the role of content versus the role creative is meant to play,” Levin told Digiday. “Where creative is used for brand messaging, content is used to tell deeper stories, engage consumers in new ways and ultimately meet them on their terms, that don’t interrupt [but] add to their overall experience.”

Color by numbers

Influencer marketing platform Humanz released two annual reports on the creator economy and influencer marketing business, calling this one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. With some 4.2 billion social media users online, there are now around 200 million creators making content for constant consumption. But not all creators generate profits — while some of the biggest influencers generate enough to make a living, the majority still make very little and struggle to get scale, especially if they are part-time or haven’t started monetizing their content. Some stats:

  • The number of creators surged from 50 million in 2020 to 200 million in 2022.
  • The estimated size of the creator economy is $104 billion.
  • Some 70% of creator revenue comes from influencer marketing, with 12% of full-time creators making more than $50,000 per year. 68% of part-time creators making less than $1,000 per year. Still, 59% of creators have not monetized yet, and 35% have monetized but do not make a “livable income” with it.
  • Instagram is the most popular platform for content monetization, and 69% of creators said brand deals are the highest revenue generator for them. Only 7% said it was through ad share revenue, the second highest category.
  • Influencers are in fact influencing consumers, with 40% of people reporting that they bought a product online after seeing an influencer with it. And 92% of consumers said they trust these social media influencer recommendations over advertising from brands.
  • For those running campaigns, the top two challenges are measuring ROI and campaign results (28%) and finding influencers for those campaigns (27%). Other obstacles included time restraints, and managing the contract and deadlines.
  • Lastly, ad recall is 10% higher and intent is 6% higher for influencer content that is amplified through paid media and traditional brand content on the same channels. — AS

Takeoff & landing

  • Pernod Ricard chose Publicis Media to handle its media, and the holding company created a bespoke unit within Performics called Publicis Santé to work with the spirits and wine company’s in-house teams. Wavemaker had previously handled Pernod Ricard’s media.
  • Independent media agency Empower won media AOR duties for Zaxby’s QSR chicken chain, which is looking to double its business over the next five years.
  • Cafe Media, an ad-driven warehouse for creators and independent publishers, partnered with minority-focused sales-side platform Colossus SSP to reach under-represented audiences.
  • Research firm Kantar and TV data platform Blockgraph partnered to create better insights to enable addressable advertising. Blockgraph will use its Identity Operating System (IDoS) to enable direct matching between Kantar’s panel and client data sets, in what they say is privacy compliant. 

Direct quote

“There’s a lot of interest in [attention] from adult beverages… and also in categories where brand equity has a higher impact on consumer choices. Because attention is important regardless of what your end goal is. It’s been proven through a variety of studies that it has a larger impact on the brand, which makes sense. So brand recall is higher if people actually paid attention to your ad. It makes sense when you say it that way, right? But we now have some of these methods to start to prove it out.”

— Jen Faraci, chief data officer, Digitas, on how brands and agencies are using attention metrics

Agency report

Digiday Research generated a report recently on the state of the media agency business in 2022 with a look forward to next year. Issues touched include client spending, media affected by it, staffing challenges and others. Join us this Wednesday for a discussion of the study’s findings, featuring Research editor Catherine Wolf, senior editor Michael Bürgi and media agency reporter Antoinette Siu. Here’s how to sign up.

Speed reading

  • Michael Bürgi wrote about IPG’s UM research showing that socially conscious brands advertising on media that share their same values see better purchase intent. They found a brand embracing all three values of integrity, sustainability and equity, purchase intent increases by 75%.
  • Julian Cannon shed light on how brands like NBA and Goldfish Crackers are dedicating more ad spend to TikTok, Instagram and connected TV in order to connect with Gen Z and millennial sports fans.
  • Antoinette Siu covered some of the ways agencies see retention and engagement boosted after adding mental health support for employees.

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