As we all know, the digital video industry is focused on moving to viewable impressions as a standard. There's no shortage of questions behind that shift. What's the right measurement? What guidelines will be approved? What percent of ads are truly non-viewable?
At the same time, the industry is chugging along with existing key performance indicators (KPIs) -- sales conversion data, completion rates, brand lift, etc. With each passing year, we mature, and more and more expected "norms'' fall into place, creating benchmarks that set the foundation for campaign-specific performance evaluations.
This is all good, except, of course, that this is all potentially "bad" math. Today's KPIs are based on totals that include non-viewable and viewable impressions. The "norms" that have helped us all mature, grow, and compare are fundamentally flawed, given that base.
Let's look at perhaps just one of the most common metrics currently in use: the completion rate.
Without accounting for viewability, market averages for completion rates might hover near 75 percent. However, when we look at a data set that isolates viewable impressions, the viewable completion rate falls to 38 percent. Viewable completion rate calculations include only those where the ad was viewable and the ad ran to completion. This is a stark difference from the traditional calculation, which includes both non-viewable impressions in the overall count, coupled with the fact that the completion is not dependent on a user view of that completion.
Depending on the performance metric, norms might shift differently -- brand lift assessments and click-through rates might improve as the non-viewable impressions are removed from the equations. Regardless, the industry will be confident in driving forward with a clear windshield and presenting a true view of the road ahead.
Agencies are quickly moving to viewability standards across the board. This means all subsequent KPIs will shift to reflect measurement based off the viewable impression perspective.
While the industry debates what exact requirements will roll out for viewability, agencies and publishers can take the opportunity today to get sense of what is coming tomorrow. Today's viewability tools should help the market prepare for any upcoming shifts in performance evaluations.
Matt Timothy is president of Vindico, the sponsor of this article. The company's Adtricity viewability solution measures video execution based on several key quantifiable metrics, including average player size (width and height), iframe size (width and height), and an overall transparency rate.
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Using the word "native" is OK if you're a single site or publisher, but using that term industry wide is dangerous and meaningless. People don't just have one digital expression. Their content consumption touches multiple publications in one day. As an industry, the word "native" has been used to describe a site experience that feels native and natural to the tone of the publication. But then, marketers want it to scale, and something that is niche might not scale. Marketers need to come up with a word to replace "native" that encompasses their concerns. Publications and marketers have very different objectives, and it's time they both stop sharing that word.
Marketers are obsessed with "likes." Entire marketing careers are spent trying to boost a brand's popularity on social media, and "likes," "followers," and "fans" are critical to a social media manager's goals. However, this is soft currency. The truth is, "likes" don't really mean anything anymore. Consumers have oversubscribed, over-liked, over-followed, and over-pinned. To the average person on the web, hitting the "like" button is just another click, with no real thought behind it. So what metric can we look toward for a true representation of consumer engagement on social? "Shares" are actually the closest thing we have to dissecting the motive behind a social activity. People who share have generally spent more time reviewing and digesting the material, and they want to spread it to their friends because it's become meaningful to them. Marketers should replace "likes" with "shares" as a true metric for social success.
iMedia speaks with AOL's digital prophet David Shing at ThinkLA's Trends Breakfast about why these two industry terms should be removed from our mainstream marketing vocabulary.
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According to eMarketer, nearly one-fifth of U.S. display spending will be automated in 2014. That's encouraging growth, but it's amazing that 80 percent of marketers are still spending their display budget manually. Advertisers will always make direct buys, but announcements like the Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft pact to automate direct sales show that publishers are grabbing hold faster than most brand advertisers.
Ask brands why they're hesitant though, and you'll get a lot of excuses. Run through the trades, and you'll likely see someone talking about how digital is just too hard or their money is better spent on traditional media. The following are some marketers, analysts, and industry experts discussing why money stays in traditional media (and out of programmatic), as well as some of the flaws in their thinking.
"Nobody gets fired for buying ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox." -- Forrester's Jim Nail
This is a sad truth that speaks to the fact that marketers don't value performance and, worst of all, they're all too happy to stay in their lane and maintain the status quo. The key to measuring successful advertising is to come up with the right metrics per campaign. It seems outlandish that new channels would be deemed risky while legacy broadcast networks carry a reputation as safe -- how is that proven? How do you directly tie conversions to TV? I've heard networks sell themselves as premium content, but what kinds of audience metrics do they use to validate the premium audience?
While you can insist that traditional broadcast is foolproof, "nobody gets fired" for raising performance with RTB/programmatic either. If anything, it's worth a test, and the impact of your programmatic digital campaign can be precisely tracked.
"The plan, Ms. Harsini said, is to give Mitsubishi a consistent presence on national TV rather than going dark for months as it has after launches in past years." -- Ad Age article, June 17, 2013
This isn't a direct quote from a marketer, but it describes Mitsubishi's antiquated strategy. The automaker has traditionally spent less after a big TV launch and will now invest more to stay top of mind. Consistent presence is important, but only if it's in front of the right audience. With the current fragmented audience/content landscape, marketers need to adapt to the new ways consumers engage with media and content. You would assume that their goal is to stay in touch with auto shoppers, not just the general public. Using automation allows brands to stay top of mind. In fact, a brand could adjust online media to coincide with big TV initiatives, while also using it to target intelligently and efficiently. There's no need to spray and pray.
"The sheer magnitude and speed of digital -- creative, timing, tech, software architecture, social, mobile, device proliferation, integration, media, experiences, and so on -- is extremely challenging to manage especially while trying to maintain organizational readiness and remaining digitally athletic." -- George Haynes, social and digital media manager, Kia Motors America
There's a lot of truth in this quote, but it doesn't make digital any less important, nor does it mean it should be de-emphasized because it is challenging. Many brands pay agencies to solve the problem for them -- and if they can't, then they probably need a new agency, the right media partner, or the right in-house marketing team. Staying up-to-date on digital ad trends is necessary to ensure successful campaigns, especially as eyeballs and media sales move toward digital. There's pressure on media planners to master new skills, adapt, and not fall into the trap of formulaic day-to-day planning or deeming something "too challenging" if it doesn't fit into pre-defined media buckets.
"eMarketer predicts that U.S. real-time programmatic buys will increase by more than 72 percent in 2013. Yet, in contrast, according to the Online Publisher's Association's Branding on Display survey of 250 marketers, 47 percent of decision makers believe premium content publishers are the best media for brand-focused advertising campaigns, compared to 16 percent preferring social media, 13 percent favoring video ad networks, and 11 percent preferring portals." -- AdExchanger article, June 24, 2013
Again, this raises the question about the definition of "premium" inventory. It's not something that an advertiser should decide. Rather, that definition comes from their consumers, whom determine which environments are the most engaging to them. The perspective above shows that advertisers still misunderstand their customers. They're using data to find consumers, but they're not using programmatic's data capabilities to understand how their consumers engage and respond.
Programmatic is growing, and it's affecting all aspects of our industry. Publishers who were steadfast against RTB/Programmatic are finally turning the tide and embracing it. It's time for brand marketers to become familiar with the role of automation. The changing media landscape, the fragmentation in content consumption habits, the increasingly on-demand audience, the reliance on centralized data -- all require solutions that are nimble, innovative, and can adapt quickly. Traditional media has always required long lead times and manual management that misses opportunities to capture the targeted consumers' attention in real-time. Fortunately, programmatic display is in a prime position to address those challenges.
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If you're like most online merchants, you've got an eye on your SEO strategy and the tactics involved with gaining higher organic rankings and driving more targeted, free traffic to your site. If you've been paying attention to Google lately, you've realized a few changes that have had or may have an impact on your business. I'm here to help you make sense of these recent changes and offer a long-term SEO strategy that'll stand the test-of-time -- or at least stand the test of Google algorithm changes and, in the case of Hummingbird, complete overhauls.
Penguin 2.0 -- May 22, 2013: This was primarily a link-quality algorithm update that took into account the incoming link profile of any given website. Google was looking for situations where it seemed obvious there was link manipulation happening. For example, situations where websites were clearly trying to build incoming links with very specific anchor text that went beyond what a more natural-looking incoming link profile would resemble. Typically, this anchor text consisted of the most valuable business terms for that website (e.g. LCD HDTVs).
This update also targeted link web spam in general, an ongoing Google battle for years now, and obvious advertorials that pass PageRank. In other words, if you have a lot of very low quality incoming links and are associated with spammy links (e.g. automated systems that build low quality links), you've probably realized ranking losses. Widget bait and site-wide links fit this bill. Also, if you've been paying for links and you pay for written endorsements on other websites with links that pass PageRank, you've probably realized ranking losses.
Even if you haven't realized losses and are still incorporating these tactics, I encourage you to stop. Google has become increasingly sophisticated in its detection and filtering technology. As long as SEO is important to your business, don't play with these matches.
Updates to Google's Webmaster Guidelines -- ongoing: These tend to slip under most people's radars, so I recommend always checking in on Google's guidelines after every update. I also encourage you to return to these guidelines to guide your strategy. It's also good to check-in on Bing too. These updates outline and give more detail into all the best practices Google recommends to help it find, crawl, and better understand the content and products on your site. There is a section, link schemes, under quality guidelines where Google outlines linking practices that go against Google's guidelines. They certainly help you identify the likely causes of penalties like Penguin 2.0 and 2.1. You can click through that link to get more information as well.
Google Webmaster Tools reporting on webspam connected accounts -- August 2013: Google has been making efforts to give site owners notice of manual webspam actions in GWT -- links Google has identified as unnatural and other forms of webspam including problems with content. Log in to your GWT account and navigate to Search Traffic -- Manual Actions. If you receive a manual action message, realize you are on the radar and this is your opportunity to clean your content and/or incoming link profile of harmful, unnatural links. This additional help isn't all-inclusive at this point, and it might not ever be. I tend to think of this as Google's way to subdue the outcries for support in terms of getting direct and specific answers from Google about content and link penalties. It does offer you a link to submit a request for review, a reconsideration request through this manual webspam message. Regarding unnatural links, I have seen situations where Google will respond to reconsideration requests sent through GWT with actual sample URLs of links outside its quality guidelines. If your reconsideration request is detailed enough and you can provide proof of your work to remove unnatural links, it may be more inclined to offer sample URLs.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you have been penalized and yet no notices have been brought forth through GWT, there are solutions available to help you identify the likely cause.
100 percent term (not provided) -- most people heard about it on Sept 23, 2013: Ughï¿½SEOs saw this one coming, but it's very critical for every web site owner and inbound marketer to know that all searches through Google are now 100 percent encrypted. Before you had to be signed into your Google account to perform secure searches; now it no longer matters. Anyone performing a search on Google is SSL protected, 100 percent of the time.
As a marketer and business owner, this now means all keyword-level data for organic traffic will be reported as 100 percent term (not provided) through analytic platforms like Google Analytics. This greatly disrupts the foundation for which most SEOs report on keyword performance and disables direct knowledge for specific keyword details. It blinds keyword data and in this day-and-age of technology, data blinding is never a positive thing.
Social has infiltrated the marketing world, and if you need proof that brands believe in the power of digital, a recent Cross-Channel Marketing Report found that 50 percent of businesses believe social offers the greatest new marketing opportunities over the next year.
If that's the case, where are the examples of businesses capitalizing on the opportunity? Most of what we read in the press covers brands getting interactions wrong. Social offers businesses the chance to connect with customers in ways that traditional marketing channels never could. Offering immediate, around-the-clock engagement opportunities, brands have the chance to engage with customers instantly. While this should be the "golden ticket" for brands, most are seemingly mystified by its power.
Let's examine a couple of recent opportunities where companies have dropped the social ball.
Bank of America (BofA) had an embarrassing snafu this summer when an angry Twitter user ranted about how New York City police officers ushered him away after he took to the sidewalk in front of BofA, writing in chalk about the bank taking away people's homes. Rather than properly filtering the user's tweet to understand the sentiment of the message and the user himself, the "bots" responded with a generic, and seemingly completely automated, response. The BofA handle asked if the user needed help with his account, which surely wasn't the case, given his original sidewalk chalk display of disapproval. To add insult to injury, when other users started replying in support of the original user, including the BofA Twitter handle in their tweet, they all received similar generic offers to help with their accounts.
BofA really missed the mark as there was absolutely no consideration or understanding of the user or his message, and were seen as simply automating brainless responses. Interestingly, BofA claims that the responses were not from machines, but from humans. So, given this faux pas with auto-responses, humans are a better bet in manning social channels, right? Not so fast...
How about the British Airways tweet-fest in September? When the airline lost Hasan Syed's father's luggage and didn't handle the situation according to his expectations, Syed paid to send a promoted tweet that read, "Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous." The goal of a promoted tweet -- typically used by an advertiser -- is to reach a broad audience, as it is given high prominence in the Twitter feed of the particular company.
Clearly, this was not ideal for British Airways, but they dug the hole even deeper by not responding for nearly ten hours. In fact, Mashable reported on the promoted tweet six hours after it went live -- four hours before British Airways even responded. By that time, thousands of users had read, retweeted, and commented on the promoted tweet.
Ten hours after Syed paid to complain about the airline's customer service, the employee manning the Twitter handle apologized for the delayed response, and had the audacity to share when the twitter feed is open. Which begs the question, "Since when do Twitter feeds close?" So, customers can phone British Airways 24 hours a day, visit the website on a similar basis, but social media is strictly UK business hours only?
Content is king, and good content will grow legs and move in the market. Take pride and have ample quality control when creating your branded material. Make sure the content is relevant, interesting, and helpful, and trust your audience's tastes. If you find yourself creating content that you feel is redundant or bland, you can be sure that it will be a waste of time for you and your readers. The more that content marketing grows, the more options consumers will have. The competition will be tough. Stand out by making sure every single piece is good work.
Go to where the fans are. It's perfectly fine to have your own platform for publishing your branded content. Brands like American Express and Lowes have found great success in setting up their own websites as hubs to attract fans. Not every brand has the budget or resources to do that, but what every brand can do is at least make it available to fans. Don't just keep your articles on your corporate website in some hard-to-find drop down option. Use social and make your work available to readers.
People who become a fan of a brand can remain a fan for the rest of their lives. Once you've started a branded content strategy, it's something you will have to continue for a long time. Be prepared for that before you begin, and remember that people don't consume articles or scroll the web only from nine to five. The fan experience is 24/7, so be nimble and ready to cover topics at a moment's notice. Find out what's resonating with your fans, and gear your topics in that direction. There's no such thing as too much good content for fans that are eager for it.
iMedia went to ThinkLA's Trends Breakfast in Beverly Hills and spoke with Christy Tanner, SVP and GM of CBS Interactive Media and got her advice for achieving a successful content marketing strategy.
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In 2004, the punk-pop band Bowling For Soup had a hit song called "1985." If you've never heard it, check it out. It has great hooks, and even better lyrics. One of my favorite lines from the song is the plaintive question, "When did Mötley Crüe become classic rock?" It's a great commentary on the unnoticed passage of time, and the speed with which things evolve in the world of popular culture and music.
This re-labeling -- or re-categorizing -- also happens in the world of marketing technology, oftentimes for reasons I don't quite understand. Like the world of popular culture, the digital world evolves at a speed that is sometimes hard to comprehend. You wake up one day and something has acquired a new label, been relegated to has been status, or both. Let me give you an example. I'm old enough to remember a time when everyone referred to display ads as banner ads. I'm not exactly sure when we changed the name or even why we changed the name. If there was a vote held on the name change, no one told me about it. But all of a sudden, if you continued to use the word "banner" to describe ads on websites, you were considered to be a bit of a dinosaur. Sort of like the person stubbornly clinging to MySpace from 2007-2008, when Facebook was exploding on the scene.
It happened again more recently with the term multichannel. The concept behind this approach to marketing is that the customer can engage with a marketer in a single seamless, integrated, and consistent experience across all channels at any time. Then out of the blue, the cool kids of marketing stopped using the word multichannel, and instead started referring to something called omnichannel marketing. And what does that mean? It refers to a marketing approach where the customer can engage with a marketer in a single seamless, integrated, and consistent experience across all channels at any time. Sounds familiar, right? Once again, who made the decision to make this change? Was there yet another vote in which I wasn't invited to participate?
You really have to ask yourself, what's up with this latest change in terminology? Is it so Company A can tell a prospect, "Sure those guys at Company B are good at multichannel marketing, but you really need to be doing omnichannel marketingï¿½ it's the next big thing and we're experts!" It's not so different from the apparent decision made somewhere to change data to big data. I guess big data and omnichannel sound more important.
So what does any of this have to do with email marketing? If you are active in email marketing communities (yes, they exist) you probably have noticed a growing identity crisis among both the traditional email service providers as well as many practitioners of the craft. That's because at some point in the last four to five years email marketing went out of style. Not because it wasn't still the most effective marketing channel in the universe. Rather the cool kids of marketing decided that the bright and shiny new objects like mobile and social were the One Direction and Katy Perry's of the marketing world. And practically overnight, email became classic rock.
One of the most interesting things to come out of this development was that many of the top ESPs suddenly wanted to be known as something -- anything -- other than email service providers. So they added social and mobile tools to their platforms and overnight transformed into multichannel, I mean omnichannel, service providers. There isn't a single name around which they have yet coalesced, but there's plenty of experimentation with different variations of the same words. If you happen to visit the websites of many of these ESPs, you'd be forgiven if you didn't even think they were any longer in the business of email marketing.
But guess what? The Relevancy Group surveys over 1500 marketing executives a year, and personally speaks with another 200 executives. And we've learned that when you get below the C-level, most executives couldn't care less about the multi/omnichannel pitch, compared to the ESPs and the cool kids of email marketing. The C-level guys say all the right things when it comes to multichannel/omnichannel marketing, but they are merely saying what they believe the trade publications and their fellow C-level executives expect them say. The folks making the real decisions in the trenches are more often best-in-breed focused.
This isn't to say that the investments ESPs have made in multi/omnichannel capabilities aren't of any value. At a minimum an ESP today risks being perceived as slightly behind the times if it hasn't done anything in this area. Marketers care whether or not their ESP offers these capabilities, while actual intentions to leverage them may lie several miles down the road. What's ironic is that at the same time these companies were running from the email label, they were also continuing to innovate and introduce new email functionality into their platforms. Anyone who tells you that nothing has changed in email marketing in the last five years is someone you shouldn't take very seriously.
Will the acronym ESP go the route of "banner" and "multichannel" and come to be considered an archaic term? I don't know the answer to that. I hope to be notified if we do hold a vote on it, but if past experience is a guide, no one is going to give me a heads up. But changing a label doesn't change what something inherently is. It's a cosmetic change. ESPs aren't going anywhere -- regardless of what we end up calling them.
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When buyers get 15 rep calls and 25 emails per day, there's no way they can spend time with everyone who wants a piece of their attention. So for decades, media companies have used perks -- large and small -- to get on a buyer's radar. The classic example is reps taking planners to the salon for a manicure and pedicure, so they can informally get the scoop on upcoming RFPs.
Then there are the gifts. Small branded items have been part of the business for years. Larger gifts seem increasingly common. Many media companies are passing out iPads and AG jeans in the lively expectation that they will be remembered -- and considered -- in upcoming buys. But is this actually effective in a world so singularly focused on driving better results? The truth is this type of relationship selling is no longer as powerful as many believe.
There has been a lot of buzz about "The Challenger Sale," a book by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. One central theme of the book is that relationship selling is far less effective at driving business than most people think. The authors divide sellers into five broad categories:
Perhaps the most surprising finding from their research is that relationship sellers tend to be far less effective than other sellers, especially versus challenger sellers. According to the authors, this is because the relationship seller is looking for harmony and "good meetings" while the challenger seller is consistently focused on providing ways to grow the client's business.
Many digital sales organizations focus on the relationship sale out of a perception that all solutions are fairly similar and the customer's decision of whom to work with relates more to emotional considerations than rational ones. But here's the rub. Clients and prospects don't want more of the same, they want better stuff. Far more than pretty nails, what the buyer really wants is a way to deliver better results.
My dear friend John Durham, CEO of Catalyst SF, says it best:
"I've always believed it's product first. That you need to deliver a great solution, and that your people need to be able to talk about it in a smart way. That's even more true today than just a few years ago. When today's buyers meet with a potential partner, they are more prepared -- with smart questions, product experts, requests for detailed information. You won't make a sale to an inquisitive group like today's strategic buyers if you're relying on schwag and a free dinner to make yourself stand out."
One of the most vivid ways I've experienced this is through the change in who has a seat at the table in a typical prospect meeting. Before, meetings were dominated by generalists primarily looking for incremental improvements in their well-established ways of engaging consumers.
These days, minor upgrades aren't enough. Buyers now want big advances. And they have teams of internal experts to ensure that they get them. When a seller calls on an agency there is likely to be a data expert, platform expert, and device expert in the room, each of whom has a set of highly precise questions as to methodology, results, and proof.
From implementing new technologies to bridging the gap between online and offline, marketers face digital challenges daily. In this Q&A, Aaron Fetters, director insights and analytics solutions center, Kellogg Company, shares his insights on brand strategy.
Q: You're participating on a panel at 2013 December Agency Summit that will cover how digital is bridging the gap between different media disciplines. To that end, let's give our audience a sneak peek into some of the insights you'll be sharing.
A: I'm not sure if it is as much about "new" technologies as it will be about implementing and extracting value from technologies that have been emerging in recent years. From my perspective, I look forward to stepping even further into "data driven marketing" and that implies application of data management platforms and new first- and third-party data sources. I also look forward to the continued expansion of "addressable media" (i.e., more addressable television and more).
A: We view data as a key differentiator in our ability to execute world-class marketing. We are investing in capabilities to combine various data sets in a privacy-ensured manner to help drive improved targeting and segmentation for our campaigns. The idea is to drive micro-targeting at scale. We also tackle large amounts of performance data to help us triangulate and draw conclusions as to the effectiveness of our various marketing investments.
A: Absolutely, probably the best example of this is our tracking and activation of viewability data across online display and video ad placements. We have learned a tremendous amount about various vendors' true ability to measure viewability in the online space, as well as the incredible impact that improvements in viewability can have on our marketing performance.
A: As I mentioned earlier, we are really investing in data management platforms/capabilities. This technology and approach will allow us to combine data sources from both offline and online sources in a way that better informs both traditional as well as emerging marketing touchpoints. We have a tremendous asset in our CRM/loyalty community and are utilizing the data from that asset to create better experiences for our consumers across the many ways Kellogg interacts with them every day, from our loyalty rewards to our online advertisements to even our television spots.
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You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you are. You might think you know where you are, but without a thorough website content audit, it's likely you don't.
Why perform a content audit (which admittedly is a painstaking and exacting exercise)? Lots of reasons. It helps determine if digital content is relevant, both to customer needs and to the goals of the organization. Is content accurate and consistent? Does it speak in the voice of the organization? Is it optimized for search? And are technical frameworks, such as the content management system (CMS), up to the task of handling it? Finally, an audit helps assess needs: teams, workflow, management, and identifying gaps. It will also shape content governance and help determine the feasibility of future projects.
A content audit is a cornerstone of content strategy, which governs content marketing. The aim is to perform a qualitative analysis of all the content on a website (or in some cases, a network of sites and/or social media presences -- any content for which your organization is responsible). A content audit is often performed in tandem with a content inventory, the process of creating a quantitative analysis of content.
Create a content inventory by recording all the content on the site into a spreadsheet or a text document by page title or by URL. Organize this information in outline form (i.e., section heading, followed by sub-sections and pages). If it's an e-commerce site, these headings and sub-headings might be something like Shoes > Women's Shoes > Casual Shoes > Sandals > Dr. Scholl's. A company website's headings would align more closely with X Corporation > About Us > Management > John Doe.
Content strategist Kristina Halvorson recommends assigning a unique number to each section, sub-section, and page (e.g., 1.0, 1.1., 1.1.1, and so on). This can help tremendously in assigning particular pieces of content to the appropriate site section. Some content strategists also color-code different sections on spreadsheets. It gets down to a matter of personal preference, as well as the size and scale of the audit in question.
It's also highly recommended that each section, sub-section, or page contain an annotation regarding who owns each piece of content, as well as the type of content: text, image, video, PDF, press release, product page, etc. Was the content created in-house? Who created it? Was it outsourced (e.g., third-party content, RSS feeds, blog entries, articles from periodicals)? Who's responsible for creating, approving, and publishing each piece?
The resulting document is a content inventory. Now, it's time to dig into the quality of the content -- the content audit. For each of the following steps, it's helpful to assign a grade or ranking to every page (e.g., a scale of one to five, with one being "pretty crappy" and five being "rockstar fantastic").
Some practitioners say you can shortcut through certain site pages or sections, arguing that certain pieces of content are evergreen. While that can certainly be the case, a thorough perusal of every piece of content on every page just might surprise you. Elements that you thought were set in stone, or changed site-wide, have a nasty habit of coming up and biting you in the behind. For example, the page displaying the address of the office your company moved out of five years ago, or the "contact" email address pointing to a long since departed employee.
So long as you're taking the time to audit the content, it pays to audit all the content.
What subjects and topics does the content address? Are page and section titles, headlines, and sub-heads promising what's actually delivered in the on-page copy? Is there a good balance of content addressing products, services, customer service, and "about us" information?
In a word, is the content topical? Are there outdated products, hyperlinks, or outdated and/or inaccurate information lurking in nooks and crannies of the site? As mentioned above, localities, employees, pricing, industry data and statistics, and other information change over time. In addition to checking for factual accuracy, content that is outdated should be identified as "update/revise" or "remove."
Many constituencies feed into a company's digital presence: senior management, sales, marketing and PR, and customer service, to name but a few. Different divisions could be trying to achieve varying goals in "their" section of a site or blog, but fundamentally all content must very gracefully serve two masters: the needs of the business and the needs of the customer. This means, for example, that calls-to-action must be clear, but not so overwhelming that they get in the way of the user experience. The content audit grades content on its ability to achieve both of these goals while staying in balance.
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