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PulsepointDigiday-Top-Barriers-Content-Marketing-Native-May2015Most brands and agencies say that content marketing plays a significant role in their overall marketing strategy, with native advertising playing somewhat of a less significant role for the time being, according to survey results [download page] from PulsePoint and Digiday. For publishers, native and content marketing are on a more even playing field in terms of significance. With both set to grow, the study looks at potential barriers to further adoption.

Among brands and agencies responding to the survey, the most-cited barrier preventing them from engaging in more content marketing and native advertising is a lack of resources and budget to deliver high quality content efficiently. That’s an interesting result, given growing budgets allocated to content marketing. In fact, the PulsePoint survey results indicate that 59% of respondents expect to shift more budget to content marketing in the next 2 years and 46% plan to spend more on native advertising. As such, while budgets and resources are an oft-cited barrier, research suggests that this will ease as a pain point.

Close behind resource constraints as a barrier is difficulty measuring and proving ROI, cited by half of the brand and agency respondents. This might prove to be a more stubborn obstacle than resource constraints, given that it is a persistent issue. A recent study from Econsultancy, for example, found that content marketing was the digital channel (of 19 identified) for which the fewest marketers rated their ability to measure ROI as “good” or “okay.” Separately, a Content Marketing Institute study released last year found fewer than one-quarter of content marketers reporting some success at tracking ROI, and a Polar survey of digital advertisers found insufficient reporting and ROI metrics to be their most-cited challenge to native advertising spending.

On a more encouraging note, only about 1 in 4 brands and agencies responding to the PulsePoint survey said the proving the value of content and native (26%) is an obstacle, and even fewer (21%) cited lack of client demand.

Of note, though, insufficient buyer demand is a bigger barrier for publishers, 37% of whom cited that as a challenge holding them back from embracing content marketing and native. In the Polar survey cited above, market demand was the biggest obstacle to increased business in native advertising, per premium publishers surveyed.

Nevertheless, among the PulsePoint publisher respondents, lack of client demand was matched by concerns about preserving the integrity of the publication and editorial (38%). Both took a backseat to lack of internal resources and overhead allocation, cited by 44% of publishers. As with brand and agency resource constraints, this may fade, particularly as publishers were more likely to see revenue gains in the next 2 years arising from native advertising (79%) than from any other channel, including digital video (71%) and content marketing (69%).

Why are content marketing and native advertising grouped together in the survey’s question on challenges? Presumably because they are both deployed with the same objectives in mind (with content being a strategy and native a tactic). Indeed, among brands and agencies, both content marketing and native advertising have brand engagement and brand awareness goals at the top of the list. While engagement metrics such as social engagement and time-on-page are popular content marketing metrics, native ads are still being measured most commonly by CTRs and impressions. Some of that may be the result of publishers simply being less likely to offer them as campaign metrics.

Still, the authors predict that “engagement metrics will soon replace CTR for content marketing and native.” As goals and metrics further align, perhaps questions of ROI measurement will resolve, too.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 500 brands, agencies, and publishers in the US and UK, of which 49% were brands and agencies and 51% publishers.

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