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Why King Content Has Been Overthrown by Context

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With more than 5,000 consumer messages received per day, marketers stand a chance of breaking through the clutter only by delivering information exactly when the customer wants it or when it can be most helpful to them—in short, when the context is appropriate.

As marketers, we spend our time creating articles, emails, ads, infographics, videos, and other forms of content, but we should also be making sure the messages are delivered precisely when the customer needs.

To that end:

  • Technology enables advanced audience targeting and remarketing.
  • Audience targeting expands from in-market (actively shopping) customers to look-alike profiles in addition to keyword and behavioral targeting.
  • Remarketing involves placing a tracking code in your ad, on your website or app, or in an email, and then "following" that person with relevant content.
  • What's more, the Internet of Things is expanding contextual—and "contentual"—abilities by enabling communications through various devices, providing myriad potential moments, or opportunities, to connect.

But how can the messaging strategy be effectively planned for the multimedia consumption of today's consumer?

Because of cross-device content possibilities, determining the collateral can seem daunting. Fortunately, attribution models are powerful aids in understanding the role of each channel.


Typically, a customer learns about the brand offline, through display ads or search. For longer purchase paths, social, email, and search appear again in the middle of the interactions. Direct traffic frequently closes the sale because, at this point, the customer is familiar with the brand and finds the website directly.

Let's see this with attribution and plan the content:

  1. First-touch attribution. The channels most frequently shown as the first interaction need information-driven content (the top of the AIDA purchase funnel). If display ads or organic search are the first touchpoints with a brand, then introductory information is needed. The most popular keywords driving traffic to the site should be included in this content—on the ads (display) or in the metas (organic).
  2. Linear variations of attribution or custom models that consider all interactions, except the first and last. The channels that perform best with these models need persuasion content. If social and email show the high with these models, here engagement content is most appropriate.
  3. Time-decay attribution. This reveals which channels drive the final sale. These channels need promotions or other incentive-based content. Using dynamic creatives with remarketing and smartly built segments (bidding/buying on recency and frequency, interest groups, CRM targeting) advertisers can deliver right-place, right-time targeting.

Take that understanding of appropriate content per channel, put it into context, and combine it with automation technologies for inbound marketing, remarketing segments based on recency and frequency, audience targeting, plus personalized messaging—and get contextual marketing at its best.

The customer journey for a smart phone campaign might look like this:

  1. Smart TV ads in the form of short-form commercials and in-show product placements coupled with simultaneous social advertising, or display banners, all seeking potential customers
  2. Search retargeting ads targeting keyword searches for the smart phone just after the start of the campaign
  3. Mobile or smart watch ads that work with retailers and beacon technology to target device-specific audience segments and send users a notification to their device while they're out shopping, and in close proximity to a retailer that contains the new phone
  4. Digital outdoor ads, used with location-based targeting to deliver messaging to target customers waiting for their train or driving on the highway. (This geo-personalization can capture their attention with an invite to test the phone out in a nearby retail shop.)
  5. Don't forget to include cross-device remarketing for recent website visitors. The more personal the content used, the better.

Increased types of ad inventory and distribution channels are quickly becoming available for media buying via programmatic buying and selling systems.

With so many devices and channels to implement in the media plan, efficiency, scalability, and measurability are a must. TVs and devices are becoming smarter by the minute and traditionally offline media channels are all becoming digital.

Moreover, with the ease of buying and selling enabled by programmatic systems, advertisers can increase revenue potential by selling the data to third-party (only after ensuring legal compliance) social networks or by selling the data for search retargeting campaigns.

Context now rules the marketing game.

Marketers can (and do) produce endless amounts of content, but if it isn't delivered at the right place, right time, it's just clutter. Though content is still important, without appropriate context marketers cannot win their marketing game.

So what does the modern marketer's hand or house of cards look like?

  • Ace: Context, made possible by remarketing and marketing automation technologies
  • King: Content, from interactive video, to text, social posts, 3-D ads, and more
  • Queen: Channel, where the customer finds "right place, right time" content
  • Jack: Devices, getting smarter and more diverse, eventually all screens will be interconnected

As marketers, we've never been closer to reaching the customer. Wield this power through the tools, and achieve memorable, relevant marketing. Now, are you ready to ace your marketing?


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Marie Huitsing is a senior online marketer at LeaseWeb, global Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider.

LinkedIn: Marie Huitsing 

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