Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
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79% media professionals predict growth in content-led campaigns, and other findings from global WMG survey

79% of the respondents in a recent global survey expect content-led marketing campaigns to grow over the next two years. Further, 57% said they preferred working with media owners who can offer a trusted, credible editorial environment. 

The survey, The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World by the World Media Group, had 269 respondents from across the world. They included media owners, advertisers and agencies. 44% of the respondents stated that they were in a planning/ strategy role.

Source: The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World

The annual survey seeks to identify the key drivers for content-led marketing. It explores the trends and investment intentions that will drive the future development of international content-led marketing campaigns. These include answers to questions like:

  • Where will the next growth bulge come from? 
  • What are brands looking for in the perfect content partner?
  • What will be the most sought after techniques?

Voice technology, AR, VR, audio and podcasts, personalization to drive growth

For the second consecutive year, the survey has confirmed the belief that investment in content-led marketing and advertising strategies will continue to grow. 

Source: The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World

A WARC study from September had the majority (53%) of the respondents saying that they planned to use branded content in the next 5 years.

The content formats that will drive this growth include voice technology, AR, VR, audio and podcasts, personalization. These are the formats that most respondents expect to use more in the next 12 months than they have in the past 12 months, according to the World Media Group survey.

Source: The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World

Key route to engaging consumers

Engagement was the most frequently cited (34%) marketing objective that a content-led approach is best for, followed closely by the opportunity to change perceptions (20%). 

Brand or content activism is seen as a key route to engaging consumers, according to the survey report. Many respondents (18%) asserted that the real opportunity for brands is in aligning themselves with issues and to be seen addressing societal and environmental problems. 

Source: The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World

We know that over 70% of brands can disappear and consumers would not care. You need for your brand to be in the 30%, and to be meaningful (making a societal contribution and providing well-being to the consumer).


Another participant suggested, “A diversification in voices and publications will lead to a much richer landscape for both brands and publishers to exist in.

“The more that brands (and the publishers hoping to serve them) understand that consumers are becoming less and less “brand loyal”, the more exciting work can be done, constructing multi-faceted and layered approaches and identities for consumers to engage with.”

Global storytelling for local markets

Further, 87% of the respondents said they were responsible for content-led campaigns targeting multiple countries. The survey offers insights into how brands are approaching international strategies. 

Focus on human values to drive engagement. These translate across borders and you can easily buy in to the ethos of a different cultural ad, or it can be remade within a local market.


71% of the participants said they adapt global storytelling for local markets rather than applying a single global strategy, and 61% adopt a mix of English and the local language.

The most frequently cited key to successful international content-led marketing was to identify global values, themes, and trends, and find the relevancy for each local market.

Trusted and credible editorial environment

When asked to pinpoint the top three factors that influence their choice of media partner for a content-led marketing campaign, 57% of the respondents said they preferred a media partner that offers a trusted and credible editorial environment.

The other factors were profile of audience (52%), and the quality of audience engagement (49%). 

Source: The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World

This fits in with The Economist’s finding that content promoted on-domain, regardless of the brand on the content, gets better engagement than when retargeted elsewhere.

The time spent on such content is on an average 40% higher compared with off-domain or social media content. The study also found that custom content created by a publisher on behalf of a brand performs better for engagement than repurposed content from a brand.

Mina Seetharaman, The Economist Group’s, Chief Strategy and Creative Officer suggests, “Some of that has to do with the mindset of the audience and the credibility of the domain that you are in.”

For example, she says, readers of The Economist, “know they can trust our editorial content and have also come to learn that we put quality branded content in front of them as well. As a result, that halo of trust translates into strong engagement with our client programmes.”

Critical sources of revenue for publishers

All of which make content-led marketing a natural fit for publishers. Publishers like The New York Times, Guardian and Quartz have their own branded content studios.

Quartz, whose studio is called The Lab, has created 540 campaigns for over 150 brands since its launch in 2013. And the Times has doubled its international digital ad business in the last couple of years with the bulk of the growth coming from its T Brand Studio.

According to Leah Bjornson, Managing Editor, Branded Content at Daily Hive, “Brands have long supported the creation of content, whether through traditional advertising or by more direct means such as brand tie-ins, product placements, and brought-to-you-by sponsorships. But moving forward, their support may be more critical than ever. With Facebook and Google cannibalizing publishers’ ad dollars over the last 10 years, myriad new revenue streams have emerged to help publishers sustain their businesses.”

She adds, “Even as publishers investigate subscription models and e-commerce solutions, it’s clear that branded content remains one of the most critical sources of revenue for publishers.” 

The full report can be downloaded from World Media Group: 
The Future Of Content-Led Marketing Around The World