GLOBAL: Over the past year marketers have tripled the volume of brand content they produce but all that additional material is not generating greater levels of consumer engagement, according to a new study.

In Marketing Truth or Marketing Hype?, marketing analytics firm Beckon analysed the marketing spend and performance data for 203 brands, representing over $16bn in marketing investment across 120 countries, and reported that total customer engagement with that content, in terms of views, clicks, likes and shares, had remained flat from year to year.

"The proliferation in content does not appear to be creating incrementally more brand engagement," it noted, adding that just 5% of branded content garnered 90% of total consumer engagement.

"In other words, 19 out of 20 content pieces get little to no engagement."

With one retailer creating 50,000 original content assets just for the US market and a consumer brand creating 29,000 pieces of original content in one region alone, it is clear that there can be significant waste.

One reason for low engagement rates may be the poor quality of the content, and Beckon added that in such cases lack of engagement could actually be a best-case scenario; the worst is that "low-quality content is actually hurting the perception of the brand and, ultimately, sales".

The other possibility is that media budgets are not keeping pace with the growth in content, and here the report discovered that non-working media spend – that is, the money spent on creating advertising and other content – was up 50% while working media growth rates were only up 7%.

In this context, it noted that content publishing platforms have made it easier than ever to create and publish content at scale, but these same platforms frequently lack strong measurement and analytics tools: "the feedback loop on content performance just isn't there".

More encouragingly, the report also found that programmatic ad buying is delivering 2x better ROI than media bought in traditional ways and that those brands investing in rapid measurement and spend optimization had experienced a 12.7% lift in MROI and a 1% higher profit.

Readers can download a complimentary Warc report on How to measure the effectiveness of content.

Data sourced from Beckon; additional content by Warc staff