For brands that are engaged in content marketing, there is little doubt about the importance of creating and sharing owned content, such as a blog hosted on the brand’s site. What remains a big question is how to best showcase links to blog content to customers on various digital platforms (i.e, search, social, content recommendations). With just a blog name, a post title, and perhaps a small image and brief text preview, how does a brand maximize engagement with that piece of content?
We conducted a study on approximately 6,000 links to blog articles that brands paid to distribute on Outbrain’s network between January and April of this year to begin to explore this question. In particular, we were interested in how the name of the content source impacts engagement.
When a link is recommended by Outbrain below an article on a publisher’s site, it is presented with a headline alongside a source name (i.e., the name of the site where the recommended piece of content resides) and in some cases with a thumbnail image depending on the style of the publisher’s recommendations widget. The example below shows Outbrain’s text recommendation widget installed on NBCNews.com.
Here we see a recommendation for a post on “Brand X”s blog. While some brands choose to designate the content source as a blog, others choose to display their brand name alone. Since we are always on a mission to generate the highest level of interest for consumers and engagement for our customers, we decided to take our sample of 6,000 blog posts and find out which of these two presentations performs better. The results were very surprising!
It turned out the click-through engagement was 71% higher on links that listed only the brand name than on links that had the “blog” qualifier!
This is quite an interesting finding that evokes bigger questions about consumers’ perceptions of blogs. For better or for worse, we do judge books by their covers and a better understanding of just how and why these judgments are formed in consumers’ minds will be crucial for successfully packaging branded content in the digital world.