Advertising Leaders: Consider Content Over Advertising

Many years ago, David Ogilvy advised marketers to concentrate on the “content of your advertising, not its form.” Now we’re seeing marketing leaders support for the approach of publishing content instead of advertising.

Earlier this month, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) held it’s annual “Masters of Marketing” conference in Phoenix. More than 2,200 people attended to listen to the advertising secrets and predictions from leading brands like Walmart, Chrysler and GE.

According to AdAge’s Antony Young, one of the main takeaways of the ANA event: “consider content over advertising.”

So now we have advertisers telling other advertisers to consider content instead of advertising?

Almost 2 years ago I wrote “the one chart everyone in marketing needs to understand” to suggest that content is the new advertising.

My Lessons for Marketers

  • Customers continue to tune out promotional marketing in traditional channels.
  • Marketers have been slow to respond, creating a gap between customer behaviors and the marketing mix.
  • Content marketing and social media that seeks to meet customer needs is now more important than ever!
  • Businesses need a sound content strategy that holistically considers audience content and channel needs.

GE’s CMO Beth Comstock was one of the speakers at the ANA event supporting this approach. She challenged the assumption that B2B Marketing is boring and advised the audience to take innovative approaches to storytelling.  From using vampires to tell the story of the internet in “Datalandia” to their “falling for you” Vine spot. It’s great to see  a B to B brand not taking itself too seriously and having a bit of fun.

According to Beth, these content efforts are all part of a grand scheme to “shout louder then we spend.” Regarding the native advertising debate, Beth responds: “It almost doesn’t matter who produces this content, as long as it’s good.”

Is this a positive sign of  marketers reflecting the shifts in the market or a harbinger of more changes to come? Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and  or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

7 thoughts on “Advertising Leaders: Consider Content Over Advertising

  1. Great article and perspective Michael. It is important to note that creating great content is certainly a priority but it alone is never (well, almost never) enough. Brands must also begin to behave as publishers and actively seek distribution channels to avoid their own field of dreams. Social and Native are just a start.

    1. Thanks Rob, you echo some of the main points I often make that “creating great content is not enough.” You also have to build a social audience who can help your ideas spread! I also agree that social alone is not enough. Effective content startegies will combine a balance of paid, owned and earned media.

  2. Once Brands have their content they need to syndicate it to make productive use of it. We have been doing this for brands for over 13 years at CNET Content Solutions and continue to support brands with their content strategy

  3. Creating valuable and relevant content is very important, but before you create content try to figure out what does your customer really want to hear from you, what are the benefits you can contribute to them.

  4. I’ve certainly seen a gap between customer behaviors and the content creation efforts of marketers but I’d suggest that gap is larger in some industries and smaller (or even non-existent) in others. I think the tech and financial industries in general had a head start on everyone else because they’ve been producing white papers (in the case of tech) or investment guides (in the case of finance) for years and, for the most part, have kept up with the evolution to snackable content for mobile consumption. The gap is bigger, sometimes much bigger, in other industries that are holding on to the idea of “pitch, pitch, pitch. product, product, product”

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