BEVERLY HILLS: AT&T, the telecoms giant, believes that content marketing could form the basis of a "value exchange" with mutual benefits for brands and consumers.

Esther Lee, AT&T's svp/brand marketing, advertising and sponsorship, discussed this subject at the Transformation 2014 conference organised by the 4As (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

"Marketing is no longer just selling stuff, and it's not even just storytelling," she said. "A lot of it is around value exchange. That exchange takes place in different ways and content is a big part of it."

One example of this trend relevant to the telecommunications company involved developing online video for both current and potential customers.

It pursued this initiative having learned that many enquiries for "customer experience" entered on search engines mentioned AT&T by name.

"These people wanted to understand how to interact with us," said Lee. (For more, including how the client–agency relationship might change in the future, read Warc's exclusive report: AT&T foresees a new kind of agency partnership.)

"So we were able to actually create content – explanatory content – about how to start your account, or how to switch something out, or whatever the case may be."

Rolling out this material, and making it easy to find, meant AT&T could "actually create what I would say is more satisfied customers," said Lee.

Such successes hint at the wider role content will play in the marketing mix – an area where marketers are still building their understanding.

"The whole area of content is going to get more robust, more complex and more layered before we actually figure out what works best for each of our brands," said Lee. "There's a lot of experimentation going on right now.

"So whether it's instructional content – something that really matters to me – or something that's entertaining, there are lots of different ways to think about content."

Data sourced from Warc