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maybeIt was billed as the Brand Innovators Media Buying Summit. While all respects were paid to the skill and data involved in that discipline, the order of the day at L’oreal Exchange Theater last Thursday had much more to do with integrated content creation for media than it did for buying media.

“We’re a brand storyteller,” said Julie Stenz Sr. Director, Partnership Marketing at WWE. “We have colorful characters and great stories that we’re going to tell with a lot of different partners and use our content to engage our fans and grow our audience.”

In fact, almost everytime some of the world’s biggest brands had a chance to address some of the media buying issues like DSPs, real-time bidding and CPMs, they chose to talk about content. Whether it was L’oreal CMO Marc Speichert describing a new video strategy for Maybelline, or Nadine Karp McHugh of Colgate-Palmolive discussing the best way to find new customers online, the conversation centered for the most part around the vast opportunity and channels to create the content that will engage audiences, break brands, reduce costs and span marketing channels. Brand marketers at the event even started to match digital advertising strategy with the previously untouchable medium of TV.

“A media is successful when you have the right combination of consumers spending time with it, and there being a viable advertising opportunity,” said Speichert. “As the major TV networks have made more of their content available on their full episode players, consumers have followed suit. That’s a perfect example of time spent coupled with a solid advertising opportunity. Our spending will continue to evolve as we learn more about how our consumers interact with media.”

More content creation imperatives were delivered by other brand executives as well. For example, Hasbro digital brand marketing VP Victor Lee said that the relatively low interactions from interactive advertising had led his brand and strategy toward being more aggressive with website content. Hasbro has developed a “shop, play, discover” approach that gives kids as well as parents the ability to access customized content online. Volvo online marketing director Caroline Jensen said that the trend of providing content to reach consumers has changed a basic tenet of her business.

“We used to pay for leads,” she said. “With a product that is in-market on a periodic basis, leads were very valuable. Now everyone who interacts with our brand is a lead. We can reach out to all of them.”

The overall execution strategy of the gathered executives was creating content not as an acquisition or retention strategy, but clearly an engagement strategy. As click-thrus continue to show minimal improvements and CPMs and viewability continue to be an issue, content has become the more reliable strategy for many brand marketers than simple paid media and earned placements.

The content marketing agenda did find its intersection with media buying at several points. Neil McKenna, online marketing manager for 1-800-Flowers, for example, clearly valued the ability for DSPs to create the “look alike” customers that affected his media buying budgets and frequency. And a hotly contested panel on measurement reached only one common conclusion: that brands want these content-based efforts to be measured clearly, and measured clearly very, very soon.




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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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