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Who Should Own Paid Distribution in Content Marketing?

Authors: Chad Pollitt Chad Pollitt
Posted Under: Content Marketing
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Who Should Own Paid Distribution in Content Marketing

More and more, brands are realizing that the promise of last decade—”build it and they will come content marketing”—doesn’t work. There are only 10 positions on the first page of Google, and social media channels have long figured out how to get brands to pay them: squash their organic visibility.

This problem is further exacerbated by the sheer volume of content being created and published every day. Most surveys show that marketers are planning to create even more content year over year, too. Thus, content promotion and distribution are more important than ever.

Creation-to-Distribution Ratio

Ben Young is the CEO of Nudge, a native content platform built to manage, measure and optimize campaigns. He shares, “Television executives spend five dollars on distribution for every one dollar spent on creation.” Based on my own research, content marketers have this reversed, spending one dollar on distribution for every five dollars spent on creation.

Distribution Budgets

Attitudes have got to change, or brands will continue to struggle with visibility for their content. For some brands, attitudes are changing. However, legacy silos are making it increasingly difficult for marketers to access the budgets they need to do native advertising (long-form, social, and programmatic) for content distribution. So, the question is, who should own content distribution budgets?

Should it be the PPC and display team, social, content marketing, PR, marcom, agencies, or the media buyer/paid media department? Last year at Content Marketing World, I had half a dozen folks tell me that they get what I’m saying, but they (the content team) don’t have access to the budgets needed for paid distribution. It’s controlled by another department. The more people in content marketing I speak to, the more I hear this same sentiment.

Native Ad Tech Is Partly to Blame

While the onus for this problem primarily resides in the silos brands have internally, native ad tech is partially to blame, too. Why? Simply put, their technology was created with the PPC and display teams and media buyers in mind. They adopted and integrated the same acronym-happy language PPC and display people know and love. They adopted their KPIs, too.

For the most part, native ad tech was not built with content marketers in mind—the very people that need these tools the most. Stick a creative in a dashboard filled with display language, and they’ll likely not have a clue on what to do.

AdYouLike estimates that global spending on native advertising will be $59 billion in 2018. I estimate that the majority of future growth will be from content marketers adopting native advertising. Exactly how much of this growth will be determined by a change in attitudes, broken-down silos, and the propensity for native ad tech to cater to content marketers.

Visit any of these native ad tech vendors’ websites, and you’ll see the clear majority of them do not cater to content marketers.

2017 Native Advertising Technology Landscape
Click image to access a full screen, high resolution .JPG and .PDF, plus research methodology and definitions.

The above infographic displays 272 native ad tech companies that can help content marketers distribute their content and get the visibility they need to hit their KPIs. Since the publication of this infographic, another 21 companies have identified themselves as belonging on the graphic.

These are the vendors content marketers need to get familiar with. A small minority of these companies do specifically cater to content marketers and not so much the media buyers. Until we start having more conversations with these companies, the five-to-one creation to distribution ratio will remain, and the budgets we need will be stuck in a silo we’re not in.


So Who Should Own Paid Distribution?

One forward-thinking brand I recently spoke with busted up their silos and put owned, earned, and paid media all on the same team, working side by side. In a perfect world, that’s the machine to optimize content marketing results. Unfortunately, we don’t all live in a perfect world.

Historically, brands have concentrated their distribution budgets around mid- to bottom-funnel content. Digitally, that means PPC, display, and various sponsorships. This is how the silos were created in the first place. It was okay for creative to be far removed from distribution.

However, content marketers are mostly dealing with top-funnel content, where creative is highly important. In this case, distribution needs to reside as close to creative as possible. If your social media team has its own creative department, then native advertising on social media needs to be in that department. However, if PR owns top-funnel creative, then distribution budgets should reside there. If content marketing is its own department, then they need their own distribution budget.

The bottom line for brand executives is this: Move distribution budgets as close to creative as possible for content marketing success, and start thinking like TV ad executives. For native ad tech companies, start catering to the needs of content marketers. They need your help but don’t care about CPMs and clicks. They want engagement.

Move distribution budgets as close to creative as possible for content marketing success. Click To Tweet

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