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5 Ways to Stand Out in the Days of the Duopoly

How you can stand out in a world dominated by Facebook and Google

Just because you believe something to be true doesn’t make it so. It’s one of my favorite adages, and it has some correlation to what’s going on with our friends over at Facebook and Google regarding digital advertising. I fervently believe this duopoly, as it’s now called, will be impenetrable by other paid media platforms.

But is this true?

These two powerhouses, according to some reports, account for nearly 85 percent of all digital media spend. All other platforms are collectively scrambling for the table scraps. Take Twitter, for example. As far as mobile goes, it controls just 2 percent of the total ad spend — down from 2.6 percent in 2016.

The good news is that brand marketers can find efficiencies by focusing on just two platforms with rich data and real-time analytics. The bad news: Monopolies (or in this case, duopolies) eventually turn lackadaisical and grow tired of overdelivering on ROI.

Left to Stew

If duopolies weren’t enough, stir some ad blocking, viewability, and ad fraud into the pot, and it’s no wonder modern marketers are suffering from a serious case of heartburn. Just last year, we saw an ad fraud scheme drain anywhere from $3 million to $5 million per day from the largest brands in this country.

In other words, you’re now dealing with more and more nonhuman traffic, and it’s generating false impressions, fake clicks, and grossly distorted key performance indicators. You can’t help but wonder: “Where are my target customers? When are they engaging with my brand? Is my content resonating and driving these people toward engagement?”

Even though the ad-buy industry proudly puts forth hypertargeted, reliable ad placement, you never know whether your marketing dollars are well-spent. After all, we’re likely to see losses of $6.5 billion globally to ad fraud by the end of 2017, according to the Association of National Advertisers.

Owning Branded Content

To be sure, brands aren’t without hope. Migrating away from this paid-centric approach can help mitigate the risk of ad fraud. Instead of relying on questionable media investments, go the more journalistic route of owned content, where good storytelling, accuracy, and timeliness fill your plate. Besides, owned media is often void of suspicious data analytics.

So how, exactly, do you go about making some serious waves with owned media? The following should help you out:

1. Engage the right people.

It all starts with building the right team. Make the most out of your efforts by enlisting the help of creative talent and experts in the subject areas related to your industry. If you have the funds, bring them on staff. Otherwise, going with a freelancer or two is always an option. But no matter which route you choose, remember that you’re handing over the voice of your brand; manage accordingly.

2. Get to know customer needs.

You can’t very well speak to customers if you never get to know what they want or need, and one of the most effective ways of doing this is with a little marketing intelligence. Get the lay of the land by familiarizing yourself with what’s trending. Follow some key influencers in your space to determine what’s worked in the past.

As you start creating content, it’s time to test. Get your content in front of an audience to determine what resonates the most. Do certain topics get the most shares? Do particular headlines garner more clicks? Knowledge, as they say, is power, so gather as much as possible to refine your messaging.

3. Curate some content.

Not everything you publish needs to be original content, and you can expand your output by curating content from others in your industry. It also doesn’t hurt to build relationships with other content creators. If asked, they may be willing to do a little quid pro quo guest work, but that’s a story for a different day.

To help curate content, set up alerts that notify you of relevant content in your space. Then, share your favorites on your blog, feeds, and social media platforms. Consider taking it a step further by using this content as a jumping-off point. Put your spin on it, or take on what the author is sharing.

4. Add variety to your content.

Most content creators will start off with the written word, but you should vary your content with other formats and styles. Create infographics and images. Post videos and webinars. Guest on a podcast or two. You can even write up a whitepaper, quiz, survey, or e-book. Variety can keep people coming back.

5. Repurpose content.

The beauty of owning your own content is that you can repurpose it for later use. It’s quite the time saver, if fact. Let’s say you produced a whitepaper last year; you can break it up into smaller pieces. You can also take a whole bunch of posts on the same topic and assemble them into one large piece.

By that same token, you can repurpose content from one format into another. Take a video and turn it into a blog, or take a webinar and turn it into an infographic. As long as you keep a repository of content, you’ll never be at a loss for new content.

To stand out in today’s marketplace, modern brands must lessen their dependency on paid media and take matters into their own hands with owned media. The content is yours to do with what you want, and isn’t that what it’s all about? If you want customers to hear your message, make the message your own.

By Expert commentator

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