Engaging Today's Customer with Advertising and Content
By Cindy Woudenberg Founder, LuCorp Marketing | September 08, 2013
Not long ago hotels could survive without producing content, but over the last several years, hotels had to engage in and play in the marketing space of social media, online public relations, blogger relations, and article and email campaigns. Hotels have had to become even more active in digital marketing, and even that has changed tremendously in the course of a few years. The onslaught of information for customers has now forced businesses to have to become even more creative, more engaging and entertaining. Hotels have had to fight for their brand and engage with the empowered and entitled customer.
When I started writing this article I was going to focus in on advertorials and how they are still important in today's advertising/content world. But as I developed this article out, it came to mind that perhaps I ought to write about the broad range of content and what it can do to the overall marketing mix, including information on ad and advertorials
The marketing mix has changed. Advertising on the web is under a complete shift and will, to some experts, shift again soon. The mindset of today's customer is one of an empowered and entitled attitude wanting instant gratification. In order for ads and even public relations efforts to really work today, they need to have a digital element that engages and even tells the customer's point of view. Customers look at what other customers are saying on line through stories, photos and even video. Customers consider reviews and testimonials, and are well "educated" well before a purchase. In addition, they don't trust advertising, and divert their attention away from advertising. They turn it off, change the channel, ignore, and as in the case of banner ads, opt-out of allowing them to "pop-up". So what will replace banner ads? Will advertorials take their place? I'm not so sure.
Advertorials have been around a very long time. In definition they are "an advertisement that imitates editorial. " These types of "native advertising" are really articles promoting the benefits, capabilities and product or services of an organization and are made to look like editorial content. Just recently Google announced that it was scrutinizing and penalizing sites that post articles (or advertorials) for payment. According to Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer, Google has always held to not providing PageRank for Paid Advertising and any Paid Advertising should prominently display that the article is paid for. The article should not flow PageRank as advertorials should not affect search rankings in any way. Google
Matt said this guideline for links or advertorials that are paid "If money changed hands the link or article shouldn't pass PageRank. Also all paid articles need to make clear and conspicuous disclosure." He also states, "if you don't disclose, Google may remove the page and content and potentially from Google News." What does that mean to the hotel? It means, if you offer up paid advertorial content, be sure a disclosure is also included. If you offer any space on your site for paid articles be sure to implement no follow tags and add the disclosure.
So advertorials may not take the place of banner ads, but it does seem that creative content is ruling the day. According to the Content Marketing Institute's 2013 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: "On average, 28% of B2C marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing, and 55% of consumer marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend. " Customers want to be entertained, engaged and informed. Engagement is the key and creating content that differentiates helps a brand really stand out. So how do you come up with content that has a unique point of view and is interesting to readers?