Content Marketing Needs Advertising

THE ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE SERBIAN CONTENT MARKETING CHAPTER OF THE CANNUAL REPORT 2017

Content marketing is a well-known concept on the Serbian media market, but for years it has been used as a nice touch in communications rather than a thoroughly constructed pillar of the media strategy. The concept of creating valuable and relevant content from which the audience can benefit has gained a foothold in the digital era. It is a promising process, but we still have a long way to go to have a proper digital market. The truth is that Serbia is still mainly a TV market: people spend more than 5 hours a day watching TV, resulting in half of media investments being spent on TV. Consequently, big brands rely on heavy commercial blocks, while they experiment with digital solutions and try to keep up with global trends. The majority of brands are still not aware of the benefits of using relevant opinion leaders to be the mouthpieces of their content, even though they have the potential of attracting customers and followers.

One of the reasons leading to the rise of content marketing – beside companies trying to engage their customers and benefit from brand visibility – is the increased use of ad blocking software. According to the latest domestic study, 12% of users activated an ad blocking software on their device in 2016. Even though this figure is low compared to many European countries, it shows that people are tired of intrusive ads and cluttered websites. Research also shows that our mind is getting used to the information overload and hence it has become able to ignore banners in articles despite their size or placement.

The local market has recently started recording delayed TV viewing, which is still at a low level, but it is important for marketers due to the possibility of fast forwarding commercials. Until now, we have examined what people did during commercial breaks, whereas now we must face the reality of how many people skip the breaks intentionally. In the months to come we will have a better understanding of the changing habits and a clearer picture of how advertisers have to change their media strategies.

The above-mentioned developments and the global trends trigger marketers to experiment with this new, yet old concept, now at a more deliberate level. Serbia seems to be in its infancy in certain respects, since native advertising and integrated content take up only 2% of total digital investments. This figure was presented by the IAB report, but it does not involve all the formats that affect consumer behavior without being noticeable, e.g. paid search – amounting to 15% of digital advertising – and social media marketing, which (at the time of writing) is at 17%. InStream videos could also be considered native advertising, so with all these figures adding up the Serbian content marketing scene is quite active. However, measuring the data related to this field proves to be a challenge and it makes providing precise figures difficult. As it has been recently revealed during an assessment of mobile users, the measurement of user data is dubious in general. Following this event, a number of top publishers left the research database, leaving a hole behind. This move means a step backwards, instead of marching together forward.

The lack of training related to digital advertising and content marketing constitutes a weakness of the industry. Some local agencies have been making efforts to organize conferences about native advertising, content management and creative solution. Following the conferences, a content academy was started to help industry experts learn about certain topics in details, and it was also a step ahead for the agencies. Lots of talented individuals work on freelance projects, but there is a lack of experienced professionals who would focus on strategy and analytics. The fact that quality and relevant digital content are not considered a priority forms an obstacle for content marketing strategies. Clients long for a crowd of engaged followers without willing to pay the price. This phenomenon hinders small digital agencies with young minds from experimenting and taking risks, be cause they are unable to develop sustainable business models for low fees and without enough experts at hand. Consequently, the digital community has to educate their clients and make them change their digital mindset to be able to advance on the road of development.

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