Taking the stage at the Nederlander Theatre for Outbrain’s “Wake Up and Smell the Content” session at Advertising Week, CEO Yaron Galai led an esteemed panel through the nuances of content marketing from both the agency and brand perspective.

Coming on the heels of a new eConsultancy report that revealed human resources as the number one obstacle to content marketing for in-house marketers, the panelists found that the question of who should “own” content and who is best suited to create and curate it often depends on the needs and sophistication of brands with respect to their practices, as well as the nature of the content itself.

Participants on the panel (from left to right) included: Yaron Galai, CEO of Outbrain; Aimee Reker, Partner at FRWD; Jennifer Kasper, GVP, Digital Media & Multicultural Marketing at Macy’s; Matt Navitsky, Managing Supervisor at Fleishman-Hillard; Darren Herman, Chief Digital Media Officer at The Media Kitchen.

Herman sees agencies lending value in getting branded content off the ground for advertisers but not necessarily owning it. “Sometimes it’s a resourcing issue on the client side… it’s incumbent on agencies to pick up the ball there. We might start out marketing content, but overtime our ideal scenario is for the client to take it on full-time and own it so it has authenticity.”

Beyond resources, agencies can lend a new voice and expertise to branded content that advertisers themselves may not be comfortable developing on their own. “It starts with agencies giving a foundation and creating that laboratory to test and apply best practices,” said Reker. “Ultimately, it should live in-house.”

But, as Kasper noted, brands need to be mindful of those attributes best left to in-house marketers sooner rather than later.

“There are some things a brand has [to own], like authenticity, honesty.  If we were to outsource that, customers would immediately notice,” said Kasper.

Content as a more nimble asset than traditional media for brands and agencies to adapt to their business goals also emerged as a major theme.  “We can surround campaigns with content programs, but the content may not be attached specifically to that campaign; it can play in other areas,” said Herman. “Paid media only takes you so far. The minute you stop spending, it turns off. Content can live… it allows marketers to support products at all times.”

Perhaps the most rewarding opportunity content enables?

“The holy grail is earned content,” says Kasper. “The conversations people are having without us.”

For Navitsky, his clients don’t need much convincing that reaching consumers with earned media on their path through digital content is a discipline worth pursuing.  Its effectiveness in delivering on awareness goals, however, depends largely on content coherency and coordination.

“We’re continually integrating different pieces of the business.  We’ve had the greatest success with clients when we have visibility into what the marketing people are doing and what the communications people are doing so we can marshal all those assets together.”

As content marketing grows in practice, brands and agencies will need to continue assessing their strengths and weaknesses in order to plot a firm path forward.  Together.

Read here for more coverage on the panel on Digiday.

 

Photo by Max Orenstein