NEW YORK: Content marketing has proved to be four times more effective than advertising for Kraft Foods, according to a leading executive.

Julie Fleischer, director of data, content and media, told the Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland that the food giant's content marketing generated the equivalent of 1.1bn ad impressions every year and achieved an ROI four times that of targeted advertising.

This is a very recent development, however, as she explained it had only been in the past two years, since the firm's global snack brands had been spun off into Mondelez International, that it had started to think of content in a similar manner to paid advertising.

By that she meant that any content put out had to be worth promoting, Advertising Age reported. She argued that too many marketers regarded content distribution as effectively free thanks to the growth of social media and that had in turn led to the devaluing of content as low quality material was published too frequently.

"It's not about putting something out every day to be part of the conversation," said Fleischer, adding: "If you wouldn't spend money behind it, then why do it?"

That approach she likened to "shouting into the wind without making a sound" and asked how many people were "guilty of being slaves to a calendar or posting cadence".

For her the beauty of content marketing was that it worked as an encouragement to engage: "It's not intrusive and invites the consumer in."

But for all the success Kraft had with content it was not neglecting advertising. "Relevant content programmed strategically with your advertising makes your advertising work harder for you," Fleischer noted.

She also advised paying close attention to trends and reacting quickly – Kraft did this on Pinterest using promoted pins, for example – and using data to push content towards individuals rather than segments.

A white paper from NewsCred, published on Warc, highlighted the three key aspects of content marketing: strategy, design and delivery.

Strategy requires marketers to define campaign goals, map what interests the audience and remain authentic. Strong design ensures storytelling and consistency across platforms and content. And delivery is vital to ensure content does not get lost: real-time delivery is one way to ensure reach, along with providing utility.

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff