content marketing

Big Companies Use Content Hubs for Native Advertising

Posted on Jul 21, 2014

As large companies look for creative ways to draw attention to their advertising on content sites, a number of Fortune 500 firms are going in the opposite direction. Instead of putting their advertising around articles created by news firms, they’re putting news articles around their promotions. From technology to fashion and from finance to food and drink, businesses are building hubs that allow them to control both content and advertising. The content hubs look, on first appearance, like any traditional news site. Large headlines and lead stories point out the most important features of the day. Sections often lead to categories within the site while scrolling down the page brings up more stories and articles. In terms of design the sites haven’t broken new ground; they’ve followed formulas laid out by traditional news firms like CNN and Fox, as well as online news companies like Mashable and Buzzfeed. Copying the design immediately gives them an appearance of objective news gathering rather than a sense of commercial promotion. Companies that have created content hubs now include Coca Cola, GE, Dell, Adobe, fashion firm Barneys and American Express. Despite the differences in the content the hubs use, the methodology tends to be the same: a portion of the articles are usually...

Learn More

The Fortune 500 Crowdsources Innovation , And Gets Innovative In-House

Posted on Jun 28, 2014

A food company wants to tell its market about its products. It wants customers to know how flexible its products can be and it wants to prove that they can use them to do more than bake bread or make basic cakes. It could turn to an advertising agency, run some focus groups or conduct some surveys. It could hire some chefs, give them some of its products and create a recipe book based on what they produce. But the company takes a different approach. It turns to crowdsourcing. It runs a cooking competition open to the public in which the only rule is that participants must  use one of its products as an ingredient. The winner will receive a cash prize and the recipes made by the entrants will be shared. Today, that sounds like a standard marketing practice. Participants would upload videos of themselves cooking to a dedicated YouTube channel. Viewers could vote for the best and anyone could browse a website and find the recipes they want to make. But the year was 1949 and the first Pillsbury Bake-Off was taking place a long time before social media allowed for easy audience participation and content sharing. It’s taken place almost every year since then. Crowdsourcing isn’t...

Learn More

Visual Hashtags, Big Brands

Posted on Mar 17, 2014

For more than fifty years, Charles Frost has been the name behind the American Express credit card. The “CF Frost” that appears at the bottom of the cards was an executive at Ogilvy & Mather in the 1960s, a time when “social media” was the newspaper that got passed around the bar during a liquid lunch. Recently though, Charles Frost has made a comeback and he’s shown that when it comes to the latest social media marketing platforms, he’s right up to date. In February 2014, American Express allowed people to track Charles Frost’s activities on Instagram. For two weeks, images tagged with the hashtag #CFFrost showed the cardholder’s activities. American Express’s 34,000 followers saw his platinum card pay for a $600 bill at a New York restaurant, buy first class tickets to Miami for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway and give him access to NY Fashion week. Each of those actions, the total story of Charles Frost’s two weeks, was shown through images and captions, and made discoverable through a hashtag. The idea was to promote a credit card to an audience younger than people old enough to remember the sixties. “We saw this as a unique way to tell our brand story with a different lens and...

Learn More

The Content500 Complete Guide To Visual Content For The Fortune 500

Posted on Mar 9, 2014

The Web might not have been around for too long but it already has a clear direction: away from text and towards images. The first blog platforms invited users to write posts of 1,000 words or longer. Facebook’s smaller text field told people to talk less and update more. Twitter cut things down to 140 characters and the rise of Instagram and Pinterest have made clear that people want to stop typing altogether. They want to show not tell, look not read. You can see that trend in the figures. The fastest growing social media platforms over the last few years have all been image-based. Pinterest’s growth between 2011 and 2012 was over 1000 percent. It took less than eighteen months for Instagram to go from start-up to over 100 million users and a valuation of a billion dollars. Two factors have driven that move towards imagery. The first is the nature of the hardware. According to a recent Pew Research Report into the state of the Internet, two-thirds of US adults use their phones to go online, 58 percent do it on a smartphone and a third of cellphone owners say their phones are now their main way of accessing the Web, not a desktop or a laptop....

Learn More

The Art — And Imagery — Of Storytelling In Marketing

Posted on Mar 2, 2014

In 2004, Neville Isdell, Coca Cola’s then-CEO and Chairman, declared the giant drinks company “creatively bankrupt.” The company had no creative agenda and no comprehensive global strategy. It didn’t even have an international campaign ready to support the launch of its new Coke Red brand. Looking today at Coca Cola Journey, a website the company launched in 2012 as part of its Content 2020 plan, it’s hard to imagine that the conglomerate ever struggled with ideas or with brand marketing. The site is presented as a magazine with sections on food and culture, business and brands. Articles tell stories of the first African-American woman to appear in the company’s advertising, the employees who create the product, and even Coke-based recipes. In one section, photographer Scott Kelby takes readers behind the scenes of a shoot on board a US aircraft carrier. Nowhere in the story is Coca Cola or any of its products even mentioned. They don’t have to be. By placing the interview in its online magazine, the drinks company is associating itself with a symbol of American power and patriotism. The pictures and the text are telling a story: the story of Coca Cola is the story of America. That strategy of using storytelling to build brands, forge...

Learn More