October 05, 2016

IAB Training Series #9 Part 1 - From Creative Excellence to Content Excellence

Why content marketing and what it’s all about?

 Mikael Christenson, Head of Content, Mindshare APAC

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The IAB Content Committee gave an insightful presentation on what Content Marketing means today and how it is more relevant than ever in Southeast Asia’s fragmented digital advertising industry. The definition of Content Marketing is constantly being redefined as the needs of online audiences evolve as quickly as their behaviour. The IAB SG Training event gave marketers an updated lesson on the Content Marketing ecosystem and how it differs to the world of advertising.

Mikael Christenson, Head of Content+ at Mindshare Asia Pacific, kicked off the presentations with a robust overview of the topic.  Other speakers that followed included Rika Sharma GM of Ogilvy; Sarah Ann Musgrave, Head of Strategy at MEC Global Solutions; Phil Townend, MD of Unruly, and Harish Argawal, VP of Corporate and Marketing Comm from Prudential.

To get everyone on the same page, Christenson laid out a definition that everyone could agree on.

Content Marketing: the marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant, valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.

So how do we do that? By providing useful, educational or entertaining information on its own merit without a call to action. It’s about giving the audience what they want, not just telling them what brands want to say.

The biggest difference between advertising and Content Marketing, is that advertising starts with the brand and the latter starts with the consumer. The customer is getting inundated with ads on a day to day basis. In fact, they are exposed to 500 brand messages every day, so content should help them, not harass them. This is known as a value exchange.

Value exchange: the brand must give something valuable to get something valuable back.

Creating ‘hero’ content

A piece of content shouldn’t be quick. It’s not a campaign that lasts three months, or even two campaigns. It’s about having a long term strategy where you invest in asset development that is going to last. The aim is to obtain and retain an audience and start influencing them over time.

Deliver stories and experiences to the audience, not brand messages. Christenson used the example of a Lipton Tea Ventures campaign. Instead of focusing on the product, the Unilever company shot five five-minute episodes around three influencers going on a youthful trip from across Southeast Asia to Sri Lanka (where Lipton Tea leaves are picked).


The series showed three youths discovering Sri Lanka and discovering the richness and culture on tea that there is there. The ad didn’t feel like it was saying, ‘We got a new product or we’ve got a new positioning!’ This campaign delivered content to the audience, not brand messaging, and it was very successful with 2.27 million episode views, and 75% completed views. 

Leveraging data

A content strategy needs analytics from previous campaigns to improve it over time and help marketers understand, ‘What’s the next piece of content I need to deliver to this audience?’

It’s very important to have a separate data strategy aligned with your content strategy. You’ll need to harness those learnings for stronger and more useful insights and more efficiencies further down the campaign. Everything can be optimised, from your creatives to your structures, to your delivery.

Content and data is living. The campaign is living. Once you make the asset, take it back to your production house or creative agency or content agency, whatever you’re using. When you launch it, the day you push play, continue to adapt it. Change your headlines, change your images, see which platform is working better.

The bottom line is that marketers have to invest time and energy behind a content strategy in order to create content that viewers love, rather than just campaigns optimised against cost review or CPMs.

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