The content economy: the answer to brand, publisher and consumer co-existence

Alicia

Alicia Navarro, the founder and chief executive of affiliate marketing company Skimlinks, explains how combining relevant content within text marketing enhances the online consumer experience.

Consumers’ love affair with the internet’s treasure chest of information has fuelled the proliferation of content sites: from newspapers’ expansion into internet news portals to the explosion of sites built around a particular niche or passion. What’s more, there are now more than one million blog posts published every day.

Social media has become a new type of content in itself, as consumers share, entertain and recommend. Users yearn for regularly updated content, whether this is articles and opinion, user generated, celebrity tweets or an update from their favourite fashion retailer.

Traditionally, placing ads around the content has been how publishers monetise their sites and advertisers attract users. But, with the general clutter online and many content sites now devoting more screen space to advertising than copy, readers tune out of irrelevant messages when searching for information.

It comes as no surprise that the ’irrelevant messages’ are the ads and so the readers start to suffer from ’banner blindness’, a well-documented phenomenon.

Recent research by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) shows that 75% of the UK’s largest publishers plan to charge for some content in the next 12 months – through apps or business services – but 80% agree that advertising will dominate revenue generation for some time yet; so there must be a better way forward.

The key to success is relevance, along with a change in thinking to treat advertising as a service to the consumer. Users must be getting something out of it, be it a link (that just happens to be an affiliate link to their favourite retailer) or a message tailored to their interests. So if the key is relevance, then the most appropriate place for an advertiser to be is within the content.

This approach certainly needs to be carefully executed, even more carefully than the white space around the page. The content must still be high quality and appealing to the reader and the advertiser’s presence must not affect the user experience. When this is done in the right way it’s incredibly powerful – and there is technology that will help make it happen.

An in-text solution, such as SkimWords from Skimlinks, automatically turns retailer and product keywords into links where the product can be bought. This approach facilitates the commercial exchange between content producers, brands and their audience.

It’s a win-win situation. The consumers are happy and save time finding the item they want to buy. The brand attracts qualified potential customers to its site, and the publisher is rewarded for creating purchase intent and opening a new revenue stream which helps support their business raison d’être: to create engaging content. And so the cycle begins again.

As consumers continue to control where and how they consume content, brands need to be part of the conversation and can benefit from rich content sites sending engaged and informed shoppers to them.

Consumers should be able to navigate seamlessly through a rich content landscape to the sites they want to buy from, and publishers should be able to grow their business while keeping their integrity intact by continuing to provide relevant content and not selling out to advertising.

Smart technology that facilitates collaboration between brands, publishers and the consumer holds the key to profiting in the content economy.

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