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Consumer shift in media habits drives rapid rise of content marketing

Brands must balance healthy returns against potential risks
by Rycan Di
Managing Director, Group Media Buying
GroupM, China
The past three years have seen major changes in the way consumers get commercial information, as they shift from watching ads, listening to radio, and reading newspapers to watching/listening to media programs. Most important, consumers are trusting the commercial information they obtain from these channels, even more than they trust advertising.
The credibility of TV, product placement, and online video ads – content marketing – has increased more than 20 percent over the past two years, according to our GroupM Project Deep Dive report. This sharp growth has been driven in part by the meteoric rise of a number of brands that substantially increased their brand premium through smart content marketing investments.
However, it is important to note that content marketing is high-risk and subject to many unpredictable factors, including uncertainties of the film and TV industry, policy changes, and the potential for brand-damaging celebrity scandal. The key challenge with content marketing is to identify the greatest opportunities and minimize possible risk.
To achieve this balance, we created a powerful content database with detailed information about China’s variety show market, including videos of all programs and information about their audience rating, directors, writers, models, and featured celebrities. It enables us to simulate placement information of content marketing and compare the results with equivalent advertising.
Based on the relative CPM effectiveness, we can determine if the proposed content marketing can deliver a better return than equivalent advertising. If its return is lower than advertising, we will advise against content marketing. If it delivers a return comparable or significantly higher return than the equivalent advertising, we will advise in favor of content marketing. We verify our conclusion using a variety of other metrics.