Advertising Week

Report: Marketer Content Tripled in Past Year, but Engagement With It Stayed Flat

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Credit: Beckon
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Marketers have dramatically increased the content they churned out in the past year, but people aren't paying any more attention to it, according to an analysis of $16 billion in client spending by marketing analytics and software firm Beckon.

In a report to be released during an Advertising Week presentation Wednesday, Beckon said clients tripled the pieces of marketing content they churned out in the past 12 months -- encompassing video and images circulated both in paid and unpaid media. Yet aggregate consumer engagement -- such things as likes, comments, and shares -- with that content remained flat.

Just 5% of content generated 90% of consumer interactions, according to Beckon. "In other words, 19 of 20 pieces of content pieces get little to no engagement," the report concludes.

Beckon clients from which the data is drawn include Coca-Cola Co., Gap, Microsoft, HP, Stubhub, Reebok, Convserse and NBC Universo. Beckon builds data collection and analytics systems for marketers, and the report aggregates data from across the firm's client base.

The sheer volume of content from some brands is staggering, with Beckon logging 29,000 individual pieces of content churned out by one brand, 50,000 by another. Beckon CEO Jennifer Zeszut said in an interview that she's encountered some brands whose primary key performance indicator (KPI) on content is simply to generate more of it -- and the numbers indicate they've succeeded, at least at that.

Lack of quality control among some brands, where content teams operate largely without central oversight or guidelines, and low levels of media spending across much of the content may explain why more content hasn't meant more viewer engagement, according to Beckon.

Some brands may be falsely leading themselves to believe increased content is having increased impact by simply measuring "total brand mentions" in social media, without differentiating brand-initiated mentions and consumer-initiated mentions, according to the report.

The content glut appears to be responsible for another finding in the report -- spending on so-called "nonworking media," or what it costs to create advertising and other content, has soared as well across Beckon's client base.

Beckon found nonworking spending was up 50% year over year across its client base. That's a potentially huge number for the industry given a study released late last year by another marketing-analytics firm, Percolate, finding around 40% of marketing spending went to such agency, production, talent and research costs.

By contrast, Beckon found only a 7% increase among its clients in paid or so-called "working" media.

While the "nonworking" term has been controversial in the industry -- given the semantic implication that spending on agencies or production or market research don't work -- Beckon's finding that a huge increase in content produced no additional consumer response may suggest the term isn't so far off base.

Beckon's report also found digital media bought programmatically by its clients delivered twice the return on investment of other digital buys, though only about half of measured digital spending was bought programmatically.