I recently had an opportunity to chat with (interview) 4 very large companies (that have stewardship of thousands of brands). We discussed how their journey as “Brands as publishers” was going. The conversations focused on changes to organizational structure and operations, resources, skill sets and agency roles. I promised the interviewees anonymity, although they have each approved the report. Here is what I learned:
- The journey has just begun, with 80% of those I chatted with believing they are underway and have some good momentum, but only just started. They ranked themselves as “3” (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being excelling and regular production).
- Content marketing is changing roles inside a company, as well as interactions with agencies, in some cases upending the traditional company agency model as the companies digest the content responsibilities and determine how best to integrate this aspect of marketing into the traditional marketing responsibilities and oversight.
- All respondents talked about the need to integrate marketing functions, including content, rather than create yet another new marketing silo. In this regard, and as a personal point of view, its why this announcement by IPG seems a little surprising. Marketers want integration and cooperation among the various agencies they work with — not another siloed agency. Nor is it a question of “who has the chops” as I blogged about last week.
- The integrated marketing conversations often led to a further discussion about what “brand management” looks like in the future – it is a different place from the traditional media focused advertising strategies. Several of the people I chatted with also spoke at length about the changing “skill sets” and expertise (as it related to agencies, companies’ own brand management, customer insights and “what is the job description of a community manager in the future”). For example, the community manager running a Facebook page sees when a post starts to “take off” and should be able to buy the sponsorship to support that post—they don’t need to wait for the ad agency media buyers.
- Also interesting to note the new “agency” in the mix: The traditional and non-traditional media, from the New York Times to Buzzfeed. These media companies and their services for brands represent an interesting development. The media companies have perceived expertise as content generators and publishers; dealing directly with brands removes “friction” and eliminates the traditional middle man too (advertisers)…a point Mitch Joel makes in other contexts. This market is experiencing and will continue to experience disruption as we move forward.
- On measurement: while the usual likes, shares, comments etc all came up, inside these major companies there are much more significant combinations and computations of these and more data to get at real business value.
Here is a link to the report.