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Kevin Ayadassen

Content marketing strategies are not just about by-passing the ad-blockers, but connecting consumers with information in an appealing and engaging way, Kevin Ayadassen, Head of Creative Sales, Thomson Reuters, told BIC in an interview.

Reuters officially launched its full-service custom content studio, Reuters Plus, in June 2017, producing engaging content across formats to connect global brands with influential audiences.

Ayadassen said that marketers undertaking a content marketing campaign usually lack focus on the user journey. "Often much of the thought process goes into creating compelling high production content, with very little emphasis on how the end user will discover, consume and interact with what has been created," he said.

He said that it was clear that users want to consume content on the go and video segment would drive the consumption of content.

"With the rollout of 5G wireless technology, the growth in content consumption through mobile is set to increase in the coming months and years," Ayadassen said, while adding half the users have ad blockers and are wary of repetitive advertising.

"Consumers expect to receive more relevant and engaging content in interesting and varied formats. They’re less receptive to irrelevant and repetitive advertising," he said.

Excerpts:

When was Reuters Plus launched? What is the idea behind launching Reuters Plus?

As the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, Reuters produces far more content than just about any other publisher in the world, meaning we are perfectly placed to deliver the best in editorial and multimedia solutions for our clients.

Having offered content solutions to clients for many years, we officially launched our full-service custom content studio, Reuters Plus, in June 2017, partly in response to the global discussion concerning fake news. Credibility has become even more important to marketers and to consumers in today’s time. We have been serving media companies for 167 years and credibility remains core to our DNA, a distinguishing advantage when creating content.

A newswire service offering branded content solutions! It was still fine for news network platforms, including BBC. Won’t it be a conflict of interest in many cases? How would you ensure credibility for your core services?

It’s imperative for us to maintain a distinction between editorial content and branded content. We don’t use our own editorial staff for producing custom content; we have a large global team dedicated to producing content for partners.

Our Reuters Plus teamwork with the editorial team to make sure that the custom content is positioned correctly and that attributions on the content clearly show that it’s produced by Reuters Plus. What is important is that the content we create is adding value to users while at the same time meeting our clients’ objectives.

A recent Reuters Plus global study (Tomorrow’s News 2018) highlighted that 82% our customers clearly understood the differences between editorial and branded content. That said, our branded content creators are often respected qualified writers, reflecting the high quality of Reuters native editorial.

How willing are Indian brands to undertake the content route? How does the content space look like to you in India?

The customer is moving centre stage among brand marketers across the globe – and India is no different. Consumers now expect to receive more relevant and engaging content in interesting and varied formats – they’re less receptive to irrelevant and repetitive advertising, which is why almost half of consumers in India use ad blockers every month – which is higher than the global and Asia average! (GWI Q4 2017).

This is why content marketing strategies and the elements within it are becoming more important than ever and Asia brand marketers place more emphasis on content marketing than those in any other region (Marketing priorities 2017). Consumers want content that outlines the benefits of using the products and services they are interested in, they want interactive formats, product guides and reviews, and opportunity to attend engaging events; some of the best content marketing campaigns I’ve seen in India also deliver stories containing humour, fun, music and dance.

So content marketing strategies are not just about bypassing ad-blockers but also connecting consumers with information in an appealing and engaging way.

What are the two important trends that you see in content consumption by consumers?

In the very near future, the majority of brands are going to be built on content and not straight display advertising. This is accentuated by the clear trend of CMOs investing more time and budgets in content marketing globally.

Firstly, mobile devices are driving overall digital traffic and the consumption of branded content, globally across all sectors. It’s clear that users want to consume content on the go; this provides an increased element of control and a sense of interaction on the user’s own terms. I would say that we have now reached the inflection point in most markets in which mobile is the dominant channel when it comes to distribution and consumption of branded content, which is a huge step change from even five years ago. With the rollout of 5G wireless technology, the growth in content consumption through mobile is set to increase in the coming months and years.

Secondly, through its visual prowess, video can also be used to create an engaging narrative and is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix. Consumers are increasingly consuming content through their phones, to the detriment of desktops/laptops and tablet. Video now complements the ‘on the move’ trend that is synonymous across the world. Cisco predicts that 80% of all global internet traffic will come from video by 2019. Mark Zuckerberg himself recently said he saw the video as a “megatrend, on the same order as mobile”.

What plans does Reuters have in the content marketing space for India? Does Reuters have a content team in India as well?

India is a hugely significant market for us, second to Japan in Asia in terms of page views (Google Analytics April 2018).With Reuters Plus being a global proposition, India will continue to be a key focus for us.

What are the frequent mistakes made by the brands, agencies, content creators and platforms in the content marketing space? How are you taking care of this?

A strong focus on the user journey is frequently lacking, often much of the thought process goes into creating amazing compelling high production content, with very little emphasis on how the end user will discover, consume and interact with what has been created. Here at Reuters Plus, we place the user journey at the heart of a campaign proposal; liaising with brands and placing robust metrics/ KPIs in place at the outset. It is imperative for marketers to place the consumer at the centre in everything they do.

Do you see Indian content creators creating content on apar with the global market?

Yes, there is plenty of creativity in India and content marketers in the region as a whole are more focused on content marketing solutions than anywhere else in the world (Marketing Priorities 2017). It would be great to see some of the innovation and creativity coming out of India, to be showcased more widely on a global scale.

How much will be the difference in the cost if a brand chooses you instead of a local content creator?

Due to the global footprint of Reuters, and local bureaus in locations across the world, we have the capacity to utilise local talent and expertise, while having the backing of the Reuters international infrastructure and resource. Depending on the client requirements, we often collaborate with local production companies. All of our client solutions are positioned very competitively in the marketplace. Our focus is always on effectiveness and efficiency for our customers by formulating the optimum creative solution.

What kind of content offerings does Reuters Plus have for brands?

We offer a plethora of activation channels to showcase our branded content, including long and short form video, video news releases, events including panel discussions / roundtables / lectures, podcasts, digital native articles, social including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, blogs, infographics, white papers and thought leadership pieces, pictures and photo essays, Reuters-owned outdoor formats, custom content hubs

Reuters Plus recent work can be found here:https://plus.reuters.com/en.html

What is the share of branded content and pure content marketing in your content offerings?

The vast majority of the content we produce is co-branded, as advertisers are keen to associate their brand with the Reuters attributes of trust, accuracy and speed. However, we have a number of examples in which clients are keen to utilise our global production expertise and have asked us to work with them to produce content specifically to be distributed across their owned platforms.