Time Inc.: 90% of Consumers Welcome Custom Content from Brands
There's a lot of talk these days about whether or not traditional advertising is "dead." Some argue that the Mad Men-type mindset of finding the right pitch and getting it in front of as many consumers as possible simply isn't as effective as more modern methods. Other evidence suggests that traditional advertising is just as trusted and effective as it's ever been.
According to a new study from Time Inc., though, it's likely that younger generations will increasingly respond to and expect value from brands that traditional advertising simply can't provide. What will help business provide that value? Content.
Custom Content is Creative, Interesting and Forms a Connection
The large-scale study sought to determine how well custom content resonated with more than 17,000 Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z consumers. The content studied focused on fashion, food, finance and automotive. The results of the study show that younger people find custom content from brands to be thoughtful and welcome. In fact, around two-thirds of respondents indicated they trust custom content more than traditional advertising.
Other insights from the report include:
- 90% liked the idea of custom content as a way for brands to engage them
- 93% liked brands sharing interesting things they may not have otherwise seen
- 92% believe brands have expertise on topics and add value to content
- 56% like that brands are not just trying to sell, but are sharing something cool or teaching them
It probably won't come as a shock to anyone that valuable content would be more well-liked than traditional advertising, but these results matter in terms of demographics and budgeting. For smaller businesses trying to increase their reach with young people, this study makes it pretty clear that spending money on traditional advertising is likely to only get fewer results as time goes on in comparison to the potential effect of valuable, focused content marketing.
But What Exactly is "Traditional?"
What this study doesn't provide is a good discussion of what exactly is meant by "traditional advertising." Typically, traditional advertising is thought of in terms of the medium with which it's distributed. When perceived this way, radio, TV, print and billboard ads would fall into the "traditional" category. But many view traditional advertising in terms of messaging. This means that, regardless of format, a "traditional ad" is a clear, blatant attempt to get someone to buy something. The ad does not serve any purpose beyond simply selling a product. In these terms, digital ads can still be just as "traditional" as TV or radio.
Keeping the second definition in mind, this study seems to indicate that younger generations would strongly prefer to get something valuable from a brand rather than be directly sold to - regardless of whether the ad is on TV, social media or anywhere else. The widespread use of ad-blockers attests to this on the internet specifically. People block ads, but they read millions of pieces of content everyday, regardless of whether or not that content is an ad in disguise.
Of course, mediums like TV and radio simply don't provide a format that allows brands to provide much real value anyway. So, no matter how "traditional marketing" is defined, it's clear that it can't compete with custom content when it comes to making real connections between brands and consumers.
Guidelines for Content that Connects
In the study's official press release, Chris Schraft, President of Content Sales and Agency Development at Time Inc.'s content studio, The Foundry, provided three simple guidelines for creating content that resonates with consumers:
- Be relevant
- Be distinct
- Be on brand
A great example of a brand that provides relevant, distinct content is the Dollar Shave Club. Their original content section is full of interesting grooming, style and health-related articles that often cover strange and unique topics like "Why You Smell Like Your Dad." The content is very engaging, distinct and fits into the Dollar Shave Club's fun, quirky branding. This content gets lots of attention and is a perfect example of the type of marketing that more and more people are responding to: compelling information from a brand that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with selling a product.
In other words, consumers want to see something more like this and less like this: