Let’s face it. Once upon a time, the world was a much simpler place for marketers. Many years ago, a 30 second television commercial would more-or-less tell consumers exactly what they were going to buy the next morning. The brand would describe a problem, and present the immediate solution which consumers would then rush to purchase. It was almost like magic. But the age of a short herd-like consumer journey has come to an end.
The internet has changed everything and today, the consumer knows as much about the product and the brand as the company, and they come to purchase prepared with an arsenal of facts and figures to ensure they are making the right decision.
Conquering the Ten Pieces of Content
Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) Research found that consumers interact with an average of 10.4 items of content throughout their journey to buy. Now the question becomes – how many of these pieces of content belong to you? How many of those 10 content interactions will influence the consumer’s decision to pick you and create the thoughts and conversations that you would want them to have?
Brands that aren’t actively doing something to be a part of the online consumer journey are leaving an opening for their competitors, bad reviews, or an unflattering article, that will tarnish their brand’s story. The damage of not being a part of this path to purchase is significant. An ad campaign loses much of its effectiveness and becomes exceedingly more expensive if the first time a consumer sees it they have already made up their mind about the brand.
Meet the Consumer at The Right Time and Place
There are three opportunities to grab the consumer’s attention and engage them as part of their online journey.
1. Search – “I need something, I google it. Whoever answers my needs first wins.”
2. Social – “I’m on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. I share, scroll, like. Whoever reaches my friends is also a friend of mine and gets my attention.”
3. Discovery – “I consume content that is interesting to me on leading premium publishers. Whatever interests me wins my attention.”
Adjusting to the Age of Discovery
We are in the midst of the Age of Discovery, an age when everyone gets to choose what they want, when they want it. This is especially true with the younger generation – they aren’t willing to be bombarded with information. They want their content, but aren’t willing to get it in exchange for being interrupted. eMarketer research estimates that more than 25% of internet users this year will have used ad blockers. This figure represents more than 85 million people in the USA, and more than 400 million people worldwide. The age of aggressive advertisements is over. The future is in exploration-based marketing, also known as discovery.
Letting People Discover for Themselves
Outbrain, as a discovery platform, helps readers discover new content about topics that are close to them. If we understand that potential customers will consume a number of content pieces before making their purchase decision, there’s an opportunity to control as much of these content encounters as possible. Otherwise, a competing brand might do so, and effectively control most of your consumer’s journey.
What this means is that brands need to collect, organize, and in some cases, create, a large assortment of content; whether it be customer reviews, a flattering video, funny short clips, an article in a leading content website, a reference in a well-regarded blog, or a blog post. And in order for more audiences to discover this content, brands need to consider multiple distribution channels — many of them paid.
The consumer’s conversation happens on many levels and a variety of content helps the consumer feel that they have adopted a balanced and objective opinion. The more control you can have over the content they consume, the closer you will come to conquering the consumer’s journey.
Choose the Competition Wisely
Once you’ve decided to prioritize discovery to attract new customers, it is just as important to determine where this discovery will take place. Social networks get a lot of traffic and are an easy platform to reach the masses. When your content is up against a picture of a colleague’s adorable daughter or a friend’s awesome trip to Barcelona, you may find that you do not have the upper hand. When people discover your content through Outbrain, it happens after they have consumed content from a leading and trustworthy website, and so you immediately have the advantage of their attention. Our data suggests that the choices audiences make about what content to engage with is significantly impacted by what channel they are on.
Being Always On
Unlike advertisements, promoting content in this manner works in a way that it is “Always On” and effective throughout the whole year. As a discovery platform, Outbrain ensures customers will meet your content at the moment when it is most appropriate for them..
When consumers are exploring a leading content website, they are in a mindset to consume more comparable content. And this doesn’t just mean text-based articles, but a wide range of content such as videos, quizzes, and reviews.
Going on the Consumer Journey with Your Customers
In order to see the true impact of an investment in discovery, you must make a strategic decision for content to be a substantial part of the consumer journey. The consumer’s journey is constantly expanding — and within it, many decisions are made. All this happens long before the customer sees an advertisement. More opportunities to connect with your customer means more opportunities for them to discover your brand. Why not take control of the story and conversations that you truly want them to keep top of mind?