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The Value of Relationship

Last week I had the great pleasure of chewing the fat with a bunch of brilliant people about something we all care very deeply about: measurement. The good folks at IAB UK posed the motion: The art of planning and measurement: Does applying metrics of success to branded content and native stifle creativity?

Spoiler alert: We all agreed that it’s a bit of both, and when it comes to the measurement bit, nobody has quite cracked it.

But something interesting came up, which has come up before in discussions like this. And that is, when it comes to paid-for branded content from a publishing brand, what is it exactly that we’re buying into? And how do we evaluate that? This sort of activity isn’t about efficient scale, and it isn’t about immediate response. It’s about having a conversation with an audience via somebody we think they trust, for some reason we think is valuable to our brand.

Put it this way – a lot of partnership responses to brief will open up with “we reach *this many* of your audience” or “average engagement rate of *something amazing*”. Which is nice, but if those were our objectives, we’d never even consider doing a partnership. They’re by far the least efficient way of reaching any type of person with any sort of scale. So why do we do it?

Content Partnerships are about leveraging a relationship. We’re buying not just into the fact that somebody consumes a brand of media, but why they do so. Third party endorsement from somebody we trust is far more powerful than first party blathering (in many cases). And it’s the trust that a consumer has in a publisher which we’re tapping into with content partnerships. To use that third party voice to endorse our brand. Trouble is, trust is a fairly abstract notion, especially in the media agency world of hard and fast numbers. How do you assign a universal, industry standard figure to something like “trust”? Something which we can use to balance everybody against one another?

We’re really pleased to be working with the IAB UK to help the industry get better at Content and Native Marketing, and we hope that we’ll be able to unravel these kinds of quandaries sooner rather than later. In the meantime… answers on a postcard?