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PR takes the lead in content race

One of the most pronounced developments of the modern digital media era is the consolidation of several pronounced disciplines under the same ‘umbrella’ of services. Digital marketing, search engine optimisation, content marketing and social media industries are all demanding more content to fulfil their objectives, which creates a huge opportunity for the PR industry. As experts in marrying engaging content with brand considerations such as marketing messages and SEO objectives, it is well positioned to ride a wave of demand for content that is about to hit the market.

Here’s why the world has suddenly turned content-hungry:

Display blind: advertising adapts to digital

The notion that the “display banner is dead” is a misconception, a nameless CEO from a media agency told Digiday in a candid interview. “The truth is it’s never really been alive”. Display advertising is at best a saturated market and at worst a marketing technique teetering on irrelevancy. The average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month, but there’s very little evidence that display creatives ever deliver a significant return on investment. Which is why agencies are moving towards producing more content. Oracle research shows per-dollar, content marketing produces roughly three times as many leads as display advertising, and it is far less disruptive. Most consumers recognise the motive behind a display ad, whereas they see value in content. With more publishers building commercial strategies geared towards content, this is only set to grow.

Social media: native social vs digital display

Like most platforms, the biggest challenge social media organisations face is how to communicate marketing messages to an increasingly mobile user base. On mobile's smaller screens, the stream is the experience. In-stream native ads look, feel, and function seamlessly across mobile and PC, which is precisely what brands want. AdRoll analysis of Facebook’s ad exchange revealed that ads in the News Feed achieve 49-times higher click-through rates and a 54 per cent lower cost-per-click than traditional placements in the right-rail sidebar, and other social media networks have started to take note.

Slapped by a Panda: Google demands quality content

Google's Panda algorithm instigated a golden age for purveyors of quality content. After years of SEO ‘cheats’ – content farms, keyword advertising, link building et al – there has been a mass purge of low-quality, spammy sites. In its wake SEO agencies are now working to build engaging content seeded on relevant sites or sites with high domain authority, which plays into the hands of publishers and firms in reach of publishers.

PR: the grand unifier

PR is well positioned to unify the industries that fall under the ‘content umbrella’. Not only do PROs know how to create high-quality, engaging content, they crucially have the ability to distribute it. A Cision study of 1.5 million journalists and influencers found PR was ranked as the number one source for journalists, and as content demands increase and resources become stretched, PR people are starting to do a lot of legwork for publications. The firms which upskill and expand their remit to incorporate advertising, SEO and social disciplines are set to profit considerably from this new wave of content.

Article written by Jack Peat, head of digital at agency 72Point

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