SPARKS OF TRUTH

SPARKS OF TRUTH

Effective content marketing thanks to central data management

BY IAN TRUSCOTT

(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2018)

Caught between content-hungry consumers and the need for business efficiency, content management professionals of various disciplines and almost every industry vertical are unifying around a common best practice: single-source publishing. The following article explores this topic, its benefits and how organisations can realise the value of their content.

Today, there is an explosion in the demand for content. Consumers now touch an average of 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase and, as the consumer experience becomes increasingly personalised, this content must be available in the context of the consumer, in their desired format, on their preferred device and channel and in the language of their choosing. Of course, when we talk about language, we really mean localisation. But localisation goes further than just considering the local language. As brand communicators, we need to be understood but also be relevant across audience segments in the moment of their engagement.

The content created by brands is changing, fuelled by the practice of content marketing – telling a brand story and owning its output channel are key to turning businesses into publishers. Hence, while in the past it was journalists telling the stories of brands, today the companies are storytellers themselves. In order to keep up with the demand for content, its publication is becoming a second business for organisations, with some big brands taking a proactive approach and creating or buying media companies, or hiring journalists to populate their content departments. Red Bull is an obvious example, having built a media company around an energy drink that lends so much brand equity it can now sell pretty much anything. Unilever and Sprint are amongst others, both with their own in-house agencies, and Marriott’s in-house content studio is award-winning, scooping up an industry Shorty award last year. Companies seem to be starting to understanding that they need to shift from talking about themselves to talking to consumers about what they want and how to solve their problems. Not everyone is Red Bull, Unilever or Marriott, but for every organisation this growing second business requires them to think like publishers, to consider content as a valuable business asset.

So, we now hear the language of the physical supply chain entering the lexicon of content publication, with businesses adopting such terminology as they optimise their ‘content supply chain’ or ‘digital inventory’, and it is taken seriously as having a direct impact on the metrics that the ‘C suite’ care about, such as net promotor score, revenue and shareholder value. This optimisation requires the adoption of best practices and tools best described as ‘single-source publishing’. Single-source publishing aims at centralising the content publication process to sit across typical business silos such as marketing, sales and services in a way that makes content assets visible and accessible to everyone with a ‘single version of truth’. The terminology for this varies. A decade ago, you would have heard the term ‘COPE’ (Create Once Publish Everywhere) from content professionals or digital technologists, but if you are a product company then you will have likely heard of MDM (Master Data Management). In the early 2000s, it was described as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and DAM (Digital Asset Management) – professionals have argued this case for years. Nowadays, there is a whole plethora of acronyms, but in essence they describe the same thing – a fundamental system making all its assets visible to the whole business.

This may sound basic, but simply knowing which assets are available can in itself create efficiency and cut costs, paying for such a system many times over through reduced creative outgoings resulting from the ability to find and reuse existing assets instead of purchasing anew. A recent censhare case study stated that the in-house Jaguar Land Rover agency Spark44 saved 65 million pounds by using a centralised content system and sped up content production by 68 per cent.

Today, this foundational system comes from one of three software vendor categories, Digital Asset Management (DAM), Product Information Management (PIM) or something less well-defined by the analyst community but well understood by the print publishing community (or commercial organisations such as Ikea) as being a publishing system. With 203 million copies distributed around the world, Ikea’s yearly catalogue sits beside the Bible, the Koran and the Harry Potter series as one of the most popular publications in the world. For this, Ikea must embrace single-source publishing for all channels. Its content challenge is diverse – its catalogue is localised for distribution to 72 different regions and is supported by websites, on and offline ads, and a whole raft of other content placements – instore included.

And it’s not just the major players facing this challenge. Consumer experience expectations may be defined by these players, along with Zappos and Amazon and Uber for example, but in order to compete for consumer attention, every business has to think in the same way. The small UK-based holiday company Newmarket Holidays has the same challenge. The way people buy holidays has changed, particularly online. Add to this the fact that a vacation is not a tangible product, but is purchased by the consumer through a visualisation of what they might experience on holiday. The digital assets which tell this story and their delivery to the consumer are therefore critical in this crowded market – they too had to get serious about their content operations. Newmarket Holidays is currently implementing a solution to enable a single-source approach towards content marketing, serving content to its channels both on and offline, and provide asset visibility across the business. They are certainly not going to challenge the Bible for distribution figures, but its single-source approach is bringing significant business efficiency in a highly competitive market.

While all these examples show the benefits of a centralised system, single-source publishing is not just about the technology. It is about becoming a content publisher as part of a holistic business transformation.

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IAN TRUSCOTT

Ian Truscott is the Vice President for Global Marketing at censhare AG. He is an accomplished content marketer with leadership experience at global software vendors and international agencies. He is now Head of Marketing for censhare AG, a global content management software firm.

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