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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

How to accurately evaluate your content marketing

November 18, 2019 | By Justin Walls, Digital Media Buyer – Pressboard @Pressboard

Today, branded content is the most effective way to capture the attention of and build trust with new audiences. And, as all marketers know, time (a.k.a attention) is money. For years, the best way to reach people who may be interested in your products or service was through pop-up ads, pre-roll or TV commercials.

However, with an estimated 25% of internet users employing ad-blockers and DVR devices allowing people to easily avoid intrusive ads, it’s become a marketer’s job to establish what and how to capture their attention. What we do know is, although audiences are steering clear of advertisements, they still want to enjoy the things those ads aim to interrupt: the stories.

Source: Pressboard’s 2019 Branded Content Benchmarks Report

Since releasing our first Branded Content Benchmarks Report in 2016, we’ve received many messages from marketers and media companies who found it helpful for understanding what metrics they should be using to evaluate their branded content campaigns.

Using data pulled from nearly 4,000 pieces of sponsored content created by brands and publishers through Pressboard’s platform, we’ve compiled an updated Branded Content Benchmarks Report, which details how well branded content performed in 2019. The report aims to help marketers go beyond mere impressions and clicks and to better understand the metrics they should be considering when measuring branded content.

Determine which traffic source to use

We’ve used several advertising platforms to promote our clients’ content as well as our own and have accumulated a wealth of data on traffic source performance. We’ve found that LinkedIn is incomparable for reaching working professionals, with average active attention time of 54.7 seconds. This highly engaged audience comes at a high price, however, which may be out of reach for the average marketer.

Twitter is great for reaching news seekers with timely and relevant articles, with average active attention time of 52.3 seconds. However, that’s not necessarily for the lowest possible cost. And although we’ve used several native platforms, poor traffic quality and low average attention time has consistently driven us back to paid social time and time again.

What we’ve realized is that the most cost-effective way to promote content to an engaged audience on social is through Facebook newsfeed ads, where we see an average attention time of 52.1 seconds. Facebook is a great starting point for promoting content because the ad platform is approachable, offers in-depth ad targeting options and doesn’t require a sizeable budget like some of the others to make a big impact.

Look beyond the surface data

In addition to average attention and the number of read, we find that Brand Lift Studies are emerging as an important way to measure the effectiveness of content marketing campaigns. As media executives, you want to ensure that you are capturing the right audience at the most optimal time to result in a purchase intended action.

As Brand Lift Studies have become a key marketing resource, social platforms have adapted and evolved their services to accommodate the format to advertisers needs. Facebook offers Brand Lift Studies to users and Google has two measurement models: Brand Lift Studies and Brand Lift Studies 2.0. SnapChat also jumped on the trend to offer Brand Lift Studies for premium buyers.

Brand Lift Studies are used to measure consumer-brand interaction based on a marketing campaign. They typically include a consumer survey of one question where one group of people are exposed to an ad and the second group is not. Once seeing (or not seeing the ad), the user can choose to participate and answer honestly or avoid the survey altogether. The purpose is to help advertisers identify positive changes in the consumer’s journey, from awareness, perception, consideration and the likelihood of purchase.

Ask the right questions

When conducting Brand Lift Studies, advertisers can directly determine the answers to questions such as:

  • Are audiences able to recall the ad?
    • Do people like what they see in our ad?
    • Did the ad influence people to consider your brand of product?
    • Are consumers more likely to purchase the product or brand after seeing the ad?

All of which are surveyed at different parts of the consumer’s journey in order to avoid brand fatigue and poor user experience.

Think long-term brand lift benefits

A user can be tracked through several social touchpoint metrics including post engagements, shares, link clicks, and impressions. But the goal is to be memorable to your audience. Therefore, it is important to understand how an advertiser can be memorable in a market full of content.

According to Bussiness.com, distribution metrics such as CTR, impressions, and clicks have lost value as true internet currency. When building brand awareness, advertisers can earn intuitive feedback on their audiences through their behaviors. This includes active reading time, scrolling percentage, ad recall, consideration, and likelihood of purchase.

However, the lack of granular insight produced by clicks, views, impressions, and CTR makes it quite difficult to understand an audience is really interested in. That’s where Brand Lift Studies fill this gap because they allow you to fully understand your consumer’s intent and preference.

A reason why more companies are choosing to use Brand Lift Studies as a reliable resource when marketing is because it provides direct feedback from consumers within days of audience interaction. This gives advertisers the ability to actively optimize their campaigns. They can opt to adjust creatives or targeting in order to maximize their ROI.

Through our research, we’ve established that the “how and when” you reach your target audience can be pivotal for your campaign to succeed to its full potential. Publishers should be sure that when they work with social of work with marketers on content-based campaigns, they understand audience behavioral patterns through metrics like active reading time, scrolling behavior.

Publishers should also know that Brand Lift Studies offer the most accurate measure of a campaign’s overall performance. Not only will these studies provide you with real time results, they’ll inform advertisers exactly how well your content delivers your message, and clearly demonstrate that the context you provide is an ideal fit.  

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