GLOBAL: Content should be a long-term play for brands, which ought also to be considering how they can best utilise data to make their campaigns more effective, according to a new WARC report.

The Content Strategy Report analyses the shortlisted entries to the 2017 WARC Awards to identify four trends that marketers can tap into in the year ahead to improve the effectiveness of their content marketing.

The analysis found that the effectiveness by timescale across all categories is evidenced by a very high proportion of campaigns – 89% – achieving ‘considerable’ effectiveness, compared with 58% of short-term campaigns (with a duration of six months or less).

In judging sessions, judges commented on the nature of short termism, tending to prefer those papers that displayed more of a commitment to an idea over the long-term.

“If I were a betting person, I’d be placing my money on the long term, as often as I could,” observed Carl Ratcliff, CEO of One Green Bean and a member of the judging panel. “Long term pays dividend.”

The report goes on to suggest that content marketers need to shed their apparent ‘dataphobia’ and start using things like Google Trends and social listening to understand what people are looking for and what are their unmet needs.

As detailed in an opinion piece by Rob Isaacs, Head of Content and Partnerships at Lucky Generals, data should be seen as “a friend to help us scale up, build differentiating audience insights and to help ongoing optimisation”.

Content marketers should not be making decisions on gut feel or even consensus, he argues, but based on the data that they have, adding that “there no longer needs to be the tradeoff between use of data and creativity”.

A third area the report highlights is how marketers use PR, which has become an increasingly useful tool in reaching a millennial audience.

Finally, quantifying the commercial outcome of content marketing remains an area of weakness. “There’s still a noticeable knowledge gap in how content works and the benefits it can offer to brands beyond soft metrics,” the report observes.

Sourced from WARC