content amplificationdigital marketing

Digital marketing budgets’ race to overtake television advertising

By December 9, 2014 No Comments

Creative content managers everywhere, allow me to warm your cockles. Because, I think we can all agree, there is nothing so discouraging as a frosty cockle. I’d like to reassure you that you’re in the right job. Stay your course and up your game.

It all started with a startling stat. That kind of sounds like something from Dr Seuss, hang on a sec…

It all started with a startling stat

“And there’s nothing as startling as that,” said the cat.

“But what,” asked the cat, “is so startling about the stat?”

I answered that – it demonstrates a prediction as to what the potential future state of the industry of content marketing will be at…

Probably needs tweaking. Anyway I think I’ve captured the essence of the eponymous factette:

By 2019, digital marketing will make up over a third (35%) of advertising spend.

That was indeed one startling revelation to emerge from the annual State of Search Conference last month, and it’s worth thinking a little deeper about. Why? Because that is, on average, roughly the proportion of marketing budget currently dedicated to TV advertising (research by eMarketer, for example, revealed that television accounted for 38.8% of ad spend last year in the US).

The point is – ad spend is decreasing, and digital marketing is eating directly into it.

Digital video ramps up

Mastercard, for instance, told the Wall Street Journal that its online video budget is “definitely coming out of TV”, and after redirecting a small chunk of its TV spend last year, this year has significantly ramped up its digital video expenditure.

Now, we should note that digital marketing budgets include digital advertising and are not simply limited to creative content. We should also note that the quoted figures refer to US markets. And lastly it might just be the case that you’re not in an industry that advertises on TV. But these points don’t necessarily matter; it’s a bigger picture I have my eye on.

What is significant is that if ever there were a sign that the digital world is taking over – if ever there were a business case for dedicating substantial chunks of marketing budget to online content – this is it.

That sounds a little dramatic, I know. But from a personal standpoint I’ve been waiting for a signal that digital will overtake TV for some time now. Okay, THAT sounded dramatic. I assure you I haven’t spent the last few years in a darkened room, scouring the news for exactly this announcement. I’ve been doing other stuff, too. I’m just saying it’s poignant.

It is true that over the past couple of years we’ve seen content marketing budgets rise considerably as a growing number of corporates see the long-term benefits of content marketing measure up to the shorter-term gains of direct advertising. Meanwhile, 2014 marked the year when a whole host of major multinationals started to create room in their executive for chief content officers, content marketing managers and the like. It’s likely you even have first-hand knowledge of this.

What does it mean to me?

So what does this all mean for you as a content manager?

Well, for one it means that traditional marketers and television advertisers are encroaching on your professional territory, so this is probably a good time to get a couple of moves ahead and step things up. Or, collaborate – with them or with innovative third parties. Or both.

Stepping things up in the world of online content generally involves giving your lovely, high-quality brand stories a little paid promotional boost. Which begs a further question – is television becoming the new method of content amplification?

If ever there were a business case for dedicating substantial chunks of marketing budget to online content – this is it.

Christmas adverts pave route online

It certainly seems that television is becoming an amplifier of online content. If we take the perennially impressive / depressive (depending on your personal stance on seasonal sentiment) John Lewis Christmas advert as an example, its emotive television film about a boy and his ‘pet’ penguin, Monty, is just the tip of a rather large digital iceberg.

Granted, an advert costing £7 million is rather costly for content amplification, but that’s not really the point when these adverts have asserted their own Christmas milestone. Leaving aside the price tag and some 18 million YouTube views, what’s astounding is the visible online investment in the multimedia melee that surrounds John Lewis’s mega-campaign.

The advert directs you to the ‘Monty’s Christmas’ sub-section of John Lewis online. It’s quite the digital feat – including virtual reality goggles that put you in Monty’s world, and a chance to put your favourite cuddly toy into its very own digitised film. There are interactive educational elements to encourage children’s imaginations and try out some storytelling for themselves. And Monty and his friend Mabel The Penguin have a pretty dedicated Twitter following (35K and 10K followers, respectively). As I write this, Monty and Mabel’s ghostwriters have done an astonishing job of engaging the public with fish puns. It’s off the scale.

Sorry. You can also download an interactive children’s e-book about Monty The Penguin’s Christmas. There’s even a physical version of the book in that good old, ‘non-traditional marketing’ outlet of print. And who doesn’t remember that fondly?

No small undertaking

This approach has become more and more pronounced, and will continue until online content indeed overtakes TV in budgetary requirements. Even if we add in the concession that digital advertising is included in that equation, still the creative content needs to be good enough to have ad support, or it will just be ignored.

If you’re a content manager looking for an argument to put to those internal stakeholders, still unconvinced of where their budget should be going, to bring bigger, better and more interactive brand stories to your website pages, you could do a lot worse than quoting a startling stat. After all, that’s good content marketing, that.

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