Mondelez on its shift away from ‘interruptive TV ads to creating content that makes money’

Mondelez is launching a new marketing model that aims to improve the return on investment of its global media spending, placing a big focus on original content and brand partnerships as it looks to fight growing consumer appetite for ad blocking.

The ad spend for brands such a Oreo will come under tougher cost-control measures going into the new year.

The goal is for up to 10% of the company’s global media investments to break even or turn a profit by 2020, allowing Mondelez to “create fuel for growth” and put an increased investment behind its ‘power brands’.

As part of this the company has signed a collection of content partnerships across a variety of formats in film, television, digital and mobile platforms. Besides rolling out a suite of branded games that aim to be commercially viable over the next 18 months, the company has also formed a partnership with publisher BuzzFeed. This will see the co-creation of a new platform focused on wellbeing.

Laura Henderson, global head of content and media monetisation at Mondelez, told Marketing Week that the new model was created in response to growing media fragmentation, where consumers are moving to platforms like Netflix and Amazon in a bid to avoid advertising altogether.

READ MORE: Mondelez looks to monetise media with global content hire and Facebook push

“We’re seeing a real challenge in that shift in how we buy media. It has become more expensive than ever before to reach audiences and for us to afford to be able to reach them,” she said.

“At the crux of this model is a shift from solely being focused on interruptive advertising with a traditional 30-second TV campaign to creating content that makes money and grabs attention.”

Laura Henderson, global head of content and media monetisation, Mondelez

While Henderson admitted that “content marketing isn’t new”, she believes Mondelez’s model is unique as it will force the company to hold its content to higher standards by generating money from it.

“The notion of monetising the original content we create, we think that’s going to hold us to a higher bar where we’re actually focusing on really strong content that adds value and utility to the audience. We will over time develop a pool of insight that we can use to inform the broader marketing mix,” she commented.

Building confidence in monetising media

Henderson said the company has slowly become more confident when it comes to making its content profitable. In 2012, Mondelez launched its ‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ mobile app for its Oreo brand, which was downloaded 7 million times.

There are also a few examples of work Mondelez has done on a smaller scale in the past to help it understand what works and what doesn’t. That includes a programme in Southeast Asia for Oreo that enlisted the help of local bands to produce a music video. Mondelez created incremental value by running the videos as regular programmes on TV and selling sponsorship partnership packages to offset the cost.

Henderson acknowledges, however, that content creation is “really difficult” and that Mondelez will be taking a test and learn approach to its content and partnerships.

“If you think about the entertainment business, whenever you create a TV show, film or an app, it’s not always a guaranteed hit. [Our approach] is very much focused on test and learn and iteration, building muscle memory over time.”

“We’re putting big bets behind it, as content is difficult to do and can be expensive. We built it because we believe it will be successful and our investment will be more sustainable over time.”

Becoming a content investor and producer

Despite the content focus, Mondelez will not completely turn its back on more traditional advertising. Instead content will become part of the mix, albeit one that becomes increasingly important.

“We will continue to see advertising and communications across various channels, and see us invest behind media in an effective way. What we’re saying is there’s now another engine working for us that helps us make that investment more sustainable over time,” Henderson explained.

While the success of the new model will predominantly be measured by looking at return on investment, there will be a new dimension to how it measures that ROI in future.

“We’re creating return in different ways. If we can monetise and offset costs, that makes our investment much more efficient,” she said.

Henderson said the new model is ultimately a “long term focus”, which will see the business make a significant shift when it comes to media buying.

She concluded: “What you’re going to see is a shift away from being a transactional media buyer to [Mondelez] being a content investor and producer.”

One of the categories in this year’s Masters of Marketing Awards celebrates excellence in content marketing.

Don’t forget to submit your Masters of Marketing entry. Click here to view all the categories.

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