WARC, the global authority on advertising and media effectiveness, just released its Effective Content Strategy Report 2018, outlining key content marketing themes from the world's most effective campaigns. Drawn from the winners of the Effective Content Strategy category of this year's international WARC Awards, the report identifies common themes from branded editorial-style content that can demonstrate a business outcome.
WARC's Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies, says: "Despite the stumbling blocks in encouraging advertisers to experiment with new content formats and convincing them to try something that perhaps doesn't look like advertising of old, there is a palpable enthusiasm for content. Content is starting to take a more central role in communications strategies that recognize its strengths and its power to connect."
Following WARC's analysis of the metadata of the entries, together with an entrants' survey and contributions from the eminent judging panel chaired by John Dokes, Global Chief Marketing Officer and General Manager, AccuWeather New York, four key themes have been identified around Effective Content Strategy:
- Emotion and humor were the creative strategies of nearly a third (32%) of shortlisted papers in the Effective Content Strategy category at this year's WARC Awards. The Grand Prix winner, Coca-Cola's Hijacking the African Cup by FP7/CAIRO, showed how emotion and humor could successfully engage audiences, as did Whiskas' Kitten Kollege by AMVBBDO and Malaysian telco Maxis' 4G Films by Ensemble Worldwide and Initiative Malaysia.
- Content must scale up to reach its full potential: In a survey by WARC, asking entrants into the Effective Content Strategy category whether their clients will be investing in more branded content in the future, 89% agreed that they would. Given that brands are committing more to the benefits of content, budgets need to grow to ensure that it can be consistent over time and deliver on marketing objectives.
- Content that creates a point of difference: Telcos, particularly those in the MENA region, where countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia boast some of the highest smartphone penetration in the world, are increasingly dependent on content marketing to help differentiate in a highly commoditized sector. There are lessons here for marketers in sectors such as financial services where differentiation remains one of the biggest challenges.
- Content that engages new audiences: Nearly half (44%) of entrants surveyed by WARC cited new customer acquisition as a key objective of their content marketing. And many winning campaigns successfully reached new audiences.
For instance, American dating app Hinge by the STUDIO repositioned itself as a relationship app through an animated film, inviting people to Escape the Dating Apocalypse and doubled its user base. Meanwhile, Emirates NBD's Dear Younger Me by Momentum Egypt increased youth acquisitions through branded content that engaged emotionally with Egypt's under-25s.
A sample of WARC's Effective Content Strategy Report 2018 can be downloaded and the full report is available to WARC subscribers.
Now in their third year, the WARC Awards 2019 will open for entries on 1 November 2018. Free to enter, there is a $40,000 prize fund for the winning papers.