The Role of Agencies for Branded Content

This week the advertising world takes over Manhattan for Advertising Week. Digiday editors are moderating several sessions during the week. We will also cover the highlights, lowlights and key personalities. Our coverage is made possible by Specific Media.

Consumers these days are often drowned in content — and not just from what we’d consider traditional publishers, those who create content for a living. Recently, brands have entered the content creation ecosystem to sell less and instead tell their stories.

“Content marketing is focusing on stuff we as consumers want, rather than the stuff pushed out,” said Yaron Galai, CEO of Outbrain, at an Advertising Week panel about content marketing.

In this new world order, content from brands has to be interesting — entertaining, informational, educational — and trust, Galai says, is the currency for content marketing.

But very often, the question becomes who creates the content: the brand or the agency? All four members of the panel, Darren Herman, chief digital media officer of The Media Kitchen; Matt Navitsky, managing supervisor at Fleishman-Hillard; Jennifer Kasper, gvp, digital media and multicultural marketing at Macy’s; and Aimee Reker, partner at FRWD agreed that it’s both. A brand knows its assets, as well as its message and an agency will often push a brand outside of its comfort zone to create compelling content. The same holds true for curating that content across the Web.

“It should start with an agency to give the foundation and give that a laboratory to test and apply best practices,” said Reker. “Ultimately, it should live in house.”

Of course, oftentimes a brand may not have a team in house to take all this in at once and it’s incumbent upon the agencies to pick up the ball, explained Navitsky.

“We go to the adage, teach a man to fish,” Navitsky said. “Over time, the ideal scenario is to get the client to take it on and own it.”

Macy’s, for example, has its own blog, according to Kasper, that is run internally by two people, but also taps outside sources, like fashionista, for original content.

“People expect variety and breadth,” Kasper said.

Content marketing puts brands and agencies in a platform mentality, according to Herman, looking at strategy beyond a campaign.

“Content marketing will live forever,” Herman said. “How we think about that: yes, we are buying for different clients and we surround that to content programs, and not specifically for a particular campaign. The content that may live around a campaign may not be about it. Pay media only takes you so far; content can live. You’re going for rented audience versus an owned audience. The exciting part of content ecosystem is that it allows marketers to have a lot of products throughout time.”

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