Demand Media’s Content Bet

Demand Media made its play by creating SEO-friendly content. But over the past several years, it has pushed hard to draw integrated campaigns with big brands like Target, Bank of America, Volkswagen and Allstate.

After Joanne Bradford stepped down as the company’s chief revenue officer two weeks ago, 20-year industry vet Jeff Dossett picked up the baton. Below is an edited conversation about the industry’s recent fascination with content marketing — and whether it’s really new.

What’s the biggest challenge when creating content for brands?
Content for brands involves a broad spectrum of content types, and each type of content has its own unique purpose and role in overall marketing initiatives. So one of the most important things to do prior to creating content is understanding the brand marketer’s objectives: understand audiences at a detailed level, unique insights to what that audience cares about, what they want to know, learn and create content in the right format to serve that audience or customer intent or needs.

Will sponsored or custom content be a boon or bust for publishers in mobile?
Absolutely a boon. The brand marketers and CMOs almost universally have come to understand the role of content in establishing deeper connections and engagement with customers. The demand for quality content at scale across the variety of formats optimized for specific customer experience — mobile, tablet — is exploding. It’s an opportunity.

When hiring for someone on your creative services team, what are you looking for?
It’s all about experience, having people who know the subject matter, having them execute or craft the content that we’re going to assemble for a particular brand. The hardest thing to do is to create quality content at scale. That’s the industry’s challenge. There’s a bit of a race in the marketplace for time and attention of customers, and everyone has woken up to the power of relevant content in establishing that connection and engagement of that audience, as opposed to just ad creative.

Do there need to be industry standards when it comes to custom content?
Content is an opportunity for creators and publishers to craft quality, relevant content, and it’s an opportunity for the best to rise to the top. I don’t think there’s a concept of a standard. There’s a standard of success: Did it enable a brand to connect its audience at scale and move along the relationship between that audience with the brand? There’s no limit to the amount of creativity that can be applied in that environment — whether creative ad formats or experiences — but I think it’s not much a standard as it’s the importance of having clear metrics of success. Brand marketers are very savvy. CMOs expect each dollar they invest in to provide an appropriate ROI. There are a wide variety of objectives — brand or call to response — in each case. The best content that serves a specific need or insight we learned about a customer is ideally suited to deliver on performance metrics. That’s what drives quality content in the marketplace, not standards.

Image via Shutterstock 

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