The native evolution of Content Marketing

Marco Sorrentino
Content Director @Publicis Media

The uncontrolled expansion of content online seems to have reached a point of no return: from 2009 to 2018, annual production has increased by 600% and the trend is continuing to rise.

The large amount of content that populates the Internet therefore collects the “crumbs” of our attention, which is increasingly transient and divided between different channels and devices. Facebook has even “built” an algorithm for us: indeed, it has updated our News Feed so that technology decides to show us the posts we are most likely to interact with more.

As much as organic visibility is important, brands must implement strategies that push even that so-called “short-term” content, which would never obtain the organic visibility necessary to amortize the cost of the content itself.

According to Marco Sorrentino from Publicis Media, there are three main aspects in this process: content, delivery and analysis. If integrated, these elements represent the only strategy to be followed in creating relevance for the user. And, in this case, integration goes through keywords that create semantic areas where the user can find content that meets their needs.

A similar reasoning lies at the base of Content Intelligence: AI engines, reviewing all the brand’s content, identify it semantically according to topics (tags), which in turn are associated with the users who have viewed it.

This match is incredibly profitable because it allows for the extraction of data on user interests that are always up-to-date. Such valuable information can also be reused in paid advertising editorial planning. And that is without taking into account the fact that the semantic organization of content avoids duplication, facilitating delivery to end users of a single version, which is adapted to the target channel in real time.

Returning to the topic of delivery, to push content, we spend only a tenth on the editorial landscape compared with how much we spend on social media. What’s more, this often occurs with methods that are not performing well when analyzed, especially if we consider the outbreak of banner blindness and ad blocking.

From recent studies, the two ad formats that appear to be the most effective are recommendation widgets and in-feed native ads. This is because they are forms of advertising that are integrated into the main editorial structure of the website. As such, “inserted” into the editorial context, they are considered less invasive

Just to be clear, when we talk about native advertising we refer to those forms of digital advertising that, to attract the interest of users, take on the appearance of the sites on which they are hosted. 

Without a doubt, the new advertising metric is engagement. In fact, it has been proven that in the presence of editorial content, people spend more time on content and the bounce rate decreases. But let’s delve deeper into the subject with Marco Sorrentino.


Q: When planning a marketing campaign, how do you think paid and organic content should be integrated?  

A: In terms of time, ideas and production, good content costs. As users, we certainly have expectations when we publish a piece: Who hasn’t hoped to get 100, 200 or 1,000 likes when posting on Instagram? When it is a brand that is creating the content, we are looking for certainties. Organic content will always remain an essential lever, but only paid content is able to give such assurances.

Paid and organic content are, therefore, two sides of the same coin. All content must be created to get the most out of organic content, but it cannot be capitalized on without using the right media levers. The technicality of the creation of organic content must be complemented by the creation of paid content.

Q: Could using AI to extract data on the audience prove useful in setting up an advertising campaign?

A: Of course. Putting data at the center of content creation is what makes a difference. If we know who we are talking to and which words this target is really interested in, we are able to optimize the entire funnel, up to the point of conversion.

We are able to improve organic traffic, improve the CTR of a supporting advertising campaign, and improve reading times. To put it briefly, it is with data that we are able to create efficiency and optimize performance.


Q: We talk about “native” as an evolution of content marketing. Please would you briefly explain the benefits of relying on this format?

A: This transformation has already been a reality for some years. When we think about Facebook, it is normal for us to create a piece of content and sponsor it. We only do it through Facebook’s “native” formats.

It is on the traditional publishing side of things that this step is not yet automatic. And, it is here that the “native” format can truly evolve content marketing in terms of concrete results for business.

The benefit comes in both qualitative terms, which can be seen from KPIs such as the average time spent on a page, and in quantitative terms. In fact, often, a piece of content designed to be pushed by a native format results in better CPAs compared with other traditional means of performance. This is despite the fact that there is an extra step, which is that provided by the content.