How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Content Marketing Efforts

19 August, 2014 // Jacqueline Lisk

Businesses are spending nearly $44 billion on content marketing, according to the Custom Content Council. Companies are realizing that high quality content is an effective way to communicate and engage with their target audience. But many struggle to determine whether or not their efforts are working.

 


In fact, only nine percent of brands surveyed by Contently felt confident in the metrics they were using to measure their content marketing efforts. Let’s explore how digital advertisements have been tracked in the past, and consider how this might change in the future as native advertising and content marketing continue to surge in popularity.

The viewability “crisis”
Digital ads have traditionally been sold based on CPM (how many people saw the ad) or CPC (how many people clicked the ad).  Lately, both metrics have been under fire. In part because some ads are served below the fold, marketers sometimes pay for ads that were never seen. In 2012, 1.8 trillion display ads were paid for but not seen, a phenomenon dubbed the viewability issue. Advertisers are demanding change and accountability. At this spring’s IAB Annual Leadership meeting, attendees argued that digital traffic fraud has reached a “crisis” level and referenced comScore data that suggests 36 percent of web traffic is fraudulent, generated by machines, not humans.

The CPC metric is certainly an important part of the puzzle, but most marketers and publishers agree that it’s not the whole puzzle. While a click is important, an engaged reader who spends time reading your content and/or viewing your ad is also valuable - arguably, more so. Perhaps he or she, inspired by your marketing message, takes action down the road. Additionally, the widespread hyper-focus on click activity has spawned some unsavory marketing tactics, such as those misleading “click bait” headlines, as explored in The Content Marketing Institute’s recent article on how focusing too much on measurement can actually kill your strategy. Sure, clicks are great, but are they coming from your target audience?

The rise in ROE
Marketers have begun to reference a new measurement term, return on engagement (ROE). It refers to the overall gains a brand generates from its marketing efforts, and it attempts to measure more than the immediate economic gains or conversions. Marketers are taking a look at:

  1. 1. Time spent on page
    The Financial Times sparked headlines when it announced that it would allow advertisers to pay for display ads based on engaged time, or time spent on the page. Jon Slade, the Financial Times’ commercial director of digital advertising, explained to Contently that FT believes “that the longer you show somebody a piece of brand creative, the more resonance that piece of content has with an audience.”

    Mediaplanet also believes that an engaged reader – a person who is interested in the topic, and relevant advertising at hand – is more valuable than a run-of-the-mill click. We, along with our advertisers, pay close attention to how long our audience spends on particular pages, as well as on the site as a whole.   
     
  2. 2. Shares and comments 
    Did a reader take the time to like or share your content? Did he or she leave a comment?  If so, you did something right. Look for commonalities among your most-shared content.  For example, we’ve found our celebrity content to be particularly popular. 
Additionally, we pay close attention to repeat traffic. It’s is a great way to determine whether the content you’re producing is actually proving useful for your target audience.

For more information on how Mediaplanet measures the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign, contact us.