COLOGNE: Brands are not in the publishing business and those who believe that 'content is king' are missing the point, a leading industry executive has argued.

"Content is an enabler to what is king," said Tom Buday, global head of marketing at Nestlé, in an address at the recent Dmexco conference in Cologne. For him that was selling brands and products that enhanced the quality of consumers' lives.

He explained that the business had plenty of metrics to help optimise its various brand content but that was only one step in the path to achieving the real goal and content was "critically important" in helping brands to reach it.

Producing effective and engaging content, however, required marketers to think about consumers as people first and foremost, not as media audiences, a term which had nothing to do with people's real lives, CMO reported.

Buday offered snack brand KitKat as an example. "Its role is to bring a smile to people's breaks," he said. "When that's your mission, you realise that thinking about people as communications or media audiences is counter-productive."

Message quality was also vital in other areas, being the biggest driver of ROI on brand spend. "And it's become more important than ever," he said, "because poor quality is punished harder and good rewarded more due to social media."

It's also a significant challenge for a business the size of Nestlé which produces around 1,500 pieces of content every single day across hundreds of platforms. But, said Buday, it also means that "every day we're learning stuff, about engagement, about brand and business impact".

Nestlé then captures that learning in a usable format and spreads it as fast as possible around its global operations. "That's the way we win," said Buday, of the practice that forms one of the central planks of the company's philosophy of "Brand building the Nestlé way".

Earlier this year, Pete Blackshaw, Nestlé's global head/digital and social media, explained how that framework had been applied to leveraging digital and social media to build brands. 

"To some extent, the value [and] the ROI you get from any such [digital] initiative is heavily dependent on the degree to which you can share the knowledge and collaborate with your employees," he said. "That's the ROI equation. These initiatives are as good as the sharing."

Data sourced from CMO, Dmexco; additional content by Warc staff