Stop Advertising and Give Them Content! [The Numbers Prove It]

We all want to get more than we give, it is simply human nature. We don’t overpay at Walmart out of the goodness of our hearts. Likewise, we don’t pay attention to advertising that doesn’t give us something of value in return, either discounts, entertainment or information.

I could launch from here into the value of developing personas to ensure advertising is delivering value. And it is true, understanding your audience is critical. But instead, below are real results comparing an ad unit to other elements of the page.

The results below are from a sponsorship program on a major blog-format media company. The sponsorship included advertising as well as custom integration of the sponsors content into the site, and allowed a comparison of the performance of various components.

  • Banner Ad: The top banner ad is outperforming the industry average 0.10% click rate [actual rate has been removed to protect client and publisher details, advertising has 'performed well' on a number of measures].
  • Social media links: Even though it is below the fold, the click rate on a link to the client’s Twitter account is 2x the top banner ad.
  • Sponsored resources: A small text link to access content from the client is getting 2.5x the click rate of the top banner ad.
  • Sponsored posts: Sponsored posts, running approximately every other week, are shared on Facebook and Twitter more often than the top banner is clicked, by nearly a 2-1 margin.
  • Editorial articles: There are 96x as many Twitter and Facebook shares on articles as their are clicks on the top banner.

Advertising, although performing well versus industry benchmarks, is not what the audience is engaging with. In fact, comparing advertising engagement to other elements of the page, the reality, that the audience simply does not engage with advertising, is clear.

As a marketer, you should be encouraged by the sponsorship results. Content and social outposts, compared to advertising, are performing very well. If you aspire to move your marketing to a media and publishing model, the results are impressive. Even a small audience can drive significantly more engagement than a large advertising program. Just how much more engaging is editorial content? Here is a mind-blowing stat:

There are more comments on editorial articles than clicks on the top banner ad!

Publishing or content creation is expensive on the surface, but when viewed in light of the engagement content creates, content just may be cheap. B2B marketers in particular should incorporate content and social media directly into advertising, providing something more valuable than an advertising message.

As a marketer, you need to stop advertising, stop pushing a message, and start providing value through your advertising. Use content as a catalyst to increase engagement. Results, like those above, show how much more interested your audience likely is in this type of marketing.

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  • http://www.idgglobalsolutions.com Martin Meyer-Gossner

    Very interesting post. First I wanted to disagree (“the audience simply does not engage with advertising”) but then I could not agree more with your conclusion (“B2B marketers in particular should incorporate content and social media directly into advertising”).
    In running different international social ad campaigns on IDG magazines for our clients, we have seen massive engagement rates and an increase in Online ROI. And all of these banners carry social content from Twitter, Blogs, RSS feeds, etc. People tend to stay longer (increase in dwell time), engage more intense with the presentetd content and might leave their contact details if directed to the right content inside the banner.

    • http://digitalb2b.wordpress.com Eric Wittlake

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for the comment. I love the example you provided, I think this is a great use of advertising space to provide value, in the form of content, rather than just a brand message. This is exactly the kind of change I would like to see more B2B advertisers make, and the type of approach these results support. We want content, information, or something else of value back when we provide our attention. Advertising that doesn’t provide this exchange is more quickly dismissed.

      Thanks again for the comment and example!

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