Content marketing and native advertising are each set to see strong gains in the near future, as April 2015 research from PulsePoint and Digiday found that the growth rates for both would outpace other formats in the next two years. But first, marketers will have to deal with hurdles involving efficiency, measurement and targeting, which the rise of automation technology could help resolve.
When the study asked agency and brand professionals in the UK and US about barriers that were preventing them from doing more with content marketing and native advertising, lack of resources and budget to deliver high-quality content efficiently was the biggest issue, cited by 55%. Difficulty measuring and proving return on investment (ROI) was second, at half of respondents. Coming in third was the inability to target and distribute at scale.
Technology will help industry professionals overcome these boundaries and change the future of content and native. Six in 10 agency and brand professionals and publishers said automation tools would allow for more precise data-driven targeting, and a close 58% would be able to resolve the ROI issue with better measurement and optimization techniques. Distributing content at scale and creating quality content more quickly were also expected to be results of marketing automation. In all, just 11% of respondents said such tech wouldn’t improve content and native.
Adoption of programmatic and automation tools for native advertising remains low, at just 23% of US client-side marketers, according to Q4 2014 data from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). And in a November 2014 study by Undertone, fewer than a quarter of US publishers, agencies and marketers each bought or sold native ads programmatically.
However, January 2015 polling by Curata found that changes were on the horizon, as nearly six in 10 US marketers intended to increase content marketing tech investment in 2015. Of course, content marketing and native advertising cannot be used interchangeably, with Digiday and PulsePoint explaining: “Content marketing is the overarching strategy. Native is one tactic of execution.” But the two certainly intersect, as the study went on to say: “Content marketing is the message. Native can be the envelope it is delivered in.” While marketers must indeed treat each as its own, content marketing and native advertising’s strong relationship means tech will reshape both simultaneously.
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