Take Oreo off the Content Marketing Pedestal
Matt Wesson

Stones, glass houses, etc

If you’re going to critique a brand’s content marketing, offer suggestions. Otherwise your hand is in the same cookie jar.

First and foremost, I want to be clear, I’m not defending content marketing by any stretch. The latest, hottest “thing” in marketing has been posited as the next silver bullet. In fact, it’s nothing new. Brands as “traditional” as Chevrolet and John Deere have been creating content for their audiences for decades. So this response isn’t about defending content marketing tooth and nail. Mostly.

I’ve been in digital marketing on and off for 15 years, and before that, I had been steeped in traditional advertising for 5–6 years. I mention this because one could argue that demanding analysis of ROI and optimization out of content marketing is similar to how we used to try and evaluate “traditional” campaigns that consisted of nothing more than TV, radio, outdoor or print. Because content is now primarily delivered digitally, there is an increased focus on the data behind it. If it’s digital, we can measure ROI definitively, right?

Twenty years ago, we measured effectiveness of branding campaigns either through brand awareness studies that had pre-campaign baselines, or more often than not, anecdotal experiences from sales teams, retail outlets, etc. But you know what, that seemed to work pretty damn well. Did Oreo’s infamous Super Bowl tweet generate additional impressions? Damn right it did. Did those impressions generate increased sales? We may never know. But the fact we’re talking about all this two years later does make the point that they got something right.

Now, imagine instead that Oreo had aired an amazing :30 TV spot within the Super Bowl, and generated similar conversations as a result. Would THAT have been easy to translate into sales data? Likely no. That’s the problem. Any marketing that is intended to increase brand impressions is inherently difficult to make into an ROI argument. Adding coupons, sign-ups, etc, can help, but then we move away from “true branding.”

And that’s my issue with this article, it takes down Oreo’s efforts by saying that they are failing at the third leg, analytics. But yet, the article never mentions how they could be doing this. Given the author’s employer, Salesforce, I’m assuming they want to position their services as a solution to this problem. And given the challenges of measuring a branding campaign, what a perfect opportunity to present your solution?

Unfortunately, the author buried the lede at the end of the story, admitting that it’s far easier to quantify ROI on B2B marketing. And for a CPG like Oreo, shelf placements within retail, couponing, packaging and line extensions are much more measurable and have much larger impacts on their sales, I imagine. Singling out one aspect of their marketing mix that is “failing” isn’t the best analysis.

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