Content-as-an-Ad: Re-thinking Content Marketing by Dinesh Rao, Intel Corporation

The following is a guest blog by Dinesh Rao, Director of ISV Co-Marketing within the Software and Services Group at Intel Corporation. You can reach him on Twitter @intdgr and @twdgr

All technology companies engage in marketing to drive awareness of their latest products.  These efforts span the spectrum between mass brand awareness to lead generation for products and services.

Typically, brand awareness, particularly for the consumer segment, has used broadcast ad networks coupled with light but emotive content.  By contrast, lead generation, particularly for the business segment, has used narrow cast online marketing with moderate to heavy content that has eschewed emotive hooks.

However, all that may be set to change soon, largely driven by economics and the tidal wave of consumerization of everything.  Simply put, content marketing, typically the focus of the lead generation end of the awareness spectrum, is about to take a page from brand marketing in its use of ad syndication.

Before diving into the coming change, let’s look at how traditional content marketing – particularly for the business segment – unfolds.  Typically, there is a piece of technical content that takes a lot of time and money to produce.  Thereafter that content is delivered to direct and indirect sales-forces to make its way to potential customers.  In addition, online marketing in various forms (websites, social media, etc.) are deployed, starting with “free” in-house options (such as existing websites, blogs and Twitter handles) and selectively moving on to paid options.

This is where things get even more expensive.  It can take 3-4 times the cost of creating collateral to pay for online marketing aimed at delivering the technical content to potential customers via eDM, SEM/SEO, sponsored social media and other forms of paid media.  Clearly, this makes it impossible to apply the additional uplift to all content.

Assuming one does a great job of securing additional budget and being judicious in selecting which content does get the uplift spend, there is the challenge of getting good analytics on who is being engaged.  Even when lead generation is not the goal, some sense of the demographics of the audience being engaged is crucial.  While this data is available from agencies that execute the uplift, it tends to be a one-time, manual exercise that doesn’t keep up with real-time and varied needs for analysis.

So, how does one address these challenges?  Well, here’s our approach:

Start with a high quality piece of technical content.  This should be something that is truly useful to your target audience, to the point that they’d be willing to do things like login via social media credentials or fill out a web form.

For each piece of high quality, technical content, create about half a dozen lighter pieces of summary content that can be shared in a non-gated manner via all forms of “free” and “earned media”.  Put effort into getting as much earned media as possible and study what you can learn about the relationship between the halo of lighter content surrounding your technical content in terms of relative attach rates.

Based on an understanding of what gets the most traction, create a paid media strategy that maximizes what resonates.  In our case, since we were more interested in driving awareness rather than generating sales leads, we decided to explore contextual advertising, with a twist.

Since we had been working with PaperShare for quite a while as a repository and distribution platform for both our high quality, technical content and lighter content, we decided that instead of the traditional surfacing of ad content triggered by keywords, we’d instead surface the content right were the ad was located.

In this endeavor PaperShare was an excellent partner because their platform supports the ability to dynamically serve content on 3rd party sites and helped us to couple it with Kontera’s smart syndication platform that intelligently places ads on the right sites in real-time.

At the time we were thinking through this experiment, we’d just finished developing a number engaging content pieces around the Intel Distribution for Hadoop (IDH), a technology for large-scale computer processing. In fact, while our goal was to raise awareness via this content, our real goal was to get people to download a trial version of the IDH software.  Working with PaperShare and Kontera we were able to do just that.

Here’s how it happened:

To promote the Intel Distribution for Apache Hadoop, we developed a number of pieces of content, including an overview video, a short solution brief, and an in-depth whitepaper.  These were published on PaperShare and then, using Kontera’s syndication network, we were able to dynamically deliver “content as an ad” to IT professionals on sites where they were already consuming articles about Hadoop and related topics.

Here’s where it gets interesting: instead of people clicking on the ads and being driven to a totally different site, with PaperShare we were able to bring up our content (PDF, Video, whitepaper) right inside the page on the site where people clicked on the ad.  Furthermore, with PaperShare’s ability to surface related content, viewers were able to immediately explore deeper technical content. Most importantly, we were able to use PaperShare’s social login per piece of content (vs. a standard web form) to gain insight into the type of people who were viewing our content.

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Example of a content-as-an-ad. When people roll over the an in-context ad, it brings up a window that displays the actual content – in this case a video – plus related content, including white papers and trial software. Viewers remain on the site they were on

The results from using PaperShare as the engine behind our content-as-an-ad program have been impressive. Compared to the usual content syndication many companies might use, PaperShare has delivered a five-fold rise in content impressions (the number of people who were exposed to the content). What is really interesting is that the number of reads on the content increased 22x.

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(Data from the PaperShare dashboard showing the impact of reads of our content when delivered directly as an ad)

Why such an increase in readership? We believe it is because we made the content – and the process of gaining insight about the viewer – part of the ad experience. People want to consume content where they find it, and not be redirected to a totally different location.

This is just one example from a single piece of content. We have found similar results as we’ve continued to use the program with different content and topics. This has also given us a way to predictably generate number of reads for our content. And for content marketers, there’s nothing more empowering than knowing the return on your content investment.

So, where do we go from here?

Clearly, we feel our experiments justified our theoretical model.  We now need to focus on how to streamline and automate the process significantly so that the decision of when to undertake this approach can be made by individual team members and budgeted for accordingly.

If content marketing proceeds at the pace we expect, it won’t be too long before content creators plan the journey of each piece of content in their constellation and are able to analyze whether things went according to plan – all the while engaging a growing community of audience members in an ongoing, potentially bi-directional dialog.  And when that happens, everyone will understand why content marketing is the foundation for all marketing.

Viral Marketing is Unreliable – The Things We Think and Do Not Say

Do you ever have one of those midnight moments of clarity where suddenly everything makes sense? It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Jerry Maguire, where Tom Cruise has a freakout in the middle of the night and writes the mission statement that leads to him getting fired and starting his own sports management agency.

I had a similar epiphany the other day, and one that I think is one of those things we all know, but no one wants to talk about. So I decided to write my own “memo,” and I don’t know if it’s going to be greeted by applause or a pink slip. But it’s this …

“Virality,” the holy grail of most demand marketers, isn’t reliable enough to be part of a real marketing strategy. You can’t really plan for something to go viral, and even if it does, it’s nearly impossible to measure its impact. Most importantly, it encourages you to think of numbers and not individuals.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly validating when something you worked on goes viral and everyone is buzzing about it. But at the end of the day, did it end up getting you any customers? How many people lauding your fantastic stunt were just other marketers giving you a pat on the back?

Take this example: There was recently a viral marketing stunt pulled off by an airline that exploded right around the holidays. They do these all the time, it turns out, but this time they got the timing just right and suddenly everyone was talking about it. You could probably even rattle off key details, like the stunned couple that got the big screen TV they asked Santa for … but can you remember the name of the airline?

I couldn’t until I started writing this and looked it up. It was Canadian regional airline WestJet. I read an article from Entrepreneur magazine called “How WestJet Won Christmas With the Best Publicity Stunt Ever”, and at the very end, they finally mentioned exactly what I’d been thinking. “Will it sell airline tickets? That’s unclear.”

What should be clear before you execute on any marketing program is the return you’re expecting to get, and how you’re going to determine that return. Particularly in B2B organizations, going viral shouldn’t be the goal, the goal should be getting customers, and viral sharing is just one way that can happen. Losing that focus is how a lot of marketing budget gets wasted. Unless you’re specifically trying to get brand recognition (and let’s face it, if you didn’t remember the name of the airline when I quizzed you, was it really THAT effective?), it doesn’t matter if you get five hundred views or five million. What matters most is how many sales you get as a result, and those are all going to be to a person.

So what should you do? Part of what helped WestJet is that the content was outstanding. Not just well produced, but the emotions elicited were clearly genuine. Some content goes viral just because of the craziness factor, but those rarely sell anything afterwards. But truly great content, while it might not have the gee whiz factor, will likely be more memorable when it’s genuine and lead to sales in the longer term.

The best way to do that is to create something useful, something that will benefit that prospective customer more than your company. While it helps if it’s specifically related to your business, it doesn’t have to be. Something someone will remember and go back to when they have a need positions you to be a source when they have needs related to your business. It’s the next step above being a “thought leader” to being actually helpful. Your content may not go viral, but now when someone shares it, you know they’ve really connected.

Finally, whatever you do, you have to be able to measure it, and ideally, tie it directly back to customers gained from the program. Gating your content in a way that you can tie back to an individual is critical to being able to demonstrate ROI on any program you might initiate. This is why PaperShare has always included content consumption history with the lead data we collect, so you know what content they’ve touched in their journey. These are all individual people, and the content they respond to helps you understand them. To paraphrase the late, great (and quite fictional) Dicky Fox, content marketing “is about personal relationships,” and you’re not going to start a personal relationship with five million YouTube views.

If you’d like to see for yourself how PaperShare can help you measure the performance of your content, you can click here to request a live demonstration.

Dashboard Enhancements for PaperShare

Happy Holidays from PaperShare!

We wanted to let you know about some amazing improvements to the PaperShare Dashboard that we’ve just rolled out. The first thing you will notice is a new look for the Dashboard. We’re now providing an overview of your content marketing performance across three different views: content, viewers and channels.
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You’ll probably notice that your content library is no longer displayed on the Dashboard. That’s what the Content button is for. Click that to see your Content Library. The most important addition here is the addition of the “Share” button. Click this to instantly go to the Share step so you can repost your content to any of your networks. This is extremely important for keeping your content top of mind, particularly on a network like Twitter that moves so quickly. If you need to know when the last time was that you shared a content item, you’ll find that date listed there as well.
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The next major change is the ability to see ALL your viewers from a single report. Click on the Viewers button on the dashboard, and you can sort based on name, number of items read, and last read dates.
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The last major change is an enhancement to our Channel reporting. Click on the Channel button and this will show you performance rolled up by Channel. Better yet, if you click PaperClips, you can now see the reporting for each of your individual PaperClips by name. Open one up, and you’ll be able to see the website locations where you have the PaperClip deployed. What this means is you can now put a PaperClip on multiple website, and determine which ones are getting you the most reads for your content. You can also go directly to each website by clicking on the “eye”-con.
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We know these are some big changes, so please reach out to us in the comments or by email (contact@papershare.com) if you have any questions or feedback. We’ll be happy to show you around.

Plugging the Hole in Your Bucket: The Mobilization of Content and What It Means For You

This is Part 2 of “The Mobilization of Content and What It Means For You.” Click here to read Part 1, where we discuss how why making sure your content is available and accessible on mobile devices is critical for content marketers.


Not all content needs a custom experience for mobile, but all content needs a comfortable experience on mobile. The difference is subtle, but in terms of converting to leads, it’s all the difference in the world. If you don’t know how your content looks in the mobile realm, you’ve probably got a big hole in your content marketing bucket.

PaperShare has worked diligently to make sure your content looks great on mobile platforms of all kinds with our Content Marketing Cloud. From responsive landing pages to an optimized UI, your content is always the focus. Let’s go through the typical experience of a mobile user who wants to consume content:

mobile_socialYou’re browsing a social network, Twitter for example. You come across an interesting tweet with a link to some content. You click the link and you’re taken to a landing page. How does that landing page look on a mobile device? Odds are, if you’re gating your content for lead generation, they’ll be faced with trying to tap on some small form fields and pecking in their information on a tiny on-screen keyboard.

If you’ve ever filled out a form on your phone, you know this is an exercise in frustration. The ideal solution is to give the user a zero-friction way to access your content, such as the Social Login option PaperShare offers. With just a tap on the screen, your audience can access your content, and you receive their social media profile in exchange. Considering this is where they found the content in the first place, it makes for a very comfortable experience.

mobile_social2Finally, we come to the content itself. Not every mobile device has a way to download and store documents and files. If you don’t display the content right on their screen, they may never view the content itself, severely reducing its effectiveness. PaperShare makes sure whatever your content may be, that it’s displayed right on the device, scaled to their screen, no matter what device they have.

You even have the ability to include a tap-able “Call to Action” flag on any piece of content, like the Learn More flag shown here. (Of course, make sure any Call to Action is mobile-ready as well.)

PaperShare takes all the hard work out of mobilizing your content by testing it on various devices and applying the appropriate look and feel based on the device and the content. Video looks different than a PDF, for example, but in any case, your content is always the star.

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Make no mistake, content consumption on mobile devices is not a fad. As these mobile devices become more commonplace, mobile consumption will be the standard, not the exception. PaperShare makes it easy to get ahead of the curve today.

Want to find out more about how you can optimize your content marketing for mobile? Contact PaperShare today for a free, 15-minute consultation.

The Hole in Your Bucket: The Mobilization of Content and What It Means For You

Rule #1: For content to be truly effective, it needs to meet people where they are. More importantly, it needs to be consumed where they are as well. The trend right now is that the device someone is using to consume your content is not going to be a desktop computer, or even a laptop … they’ll use a smartphone or tablet. So the question you should ask yourself is this:

When was the last time you saw what your content looked like on a mobile device?

Knowing what your audience is going to experience is critical to making sure your content is meeting the goal of generating leads. Unless your company has taken a great deal of effort in making sure your website uses a responsive design, the answer is probably “not very recently,” and even then, the content itself probably wasn’t checked.

That experience starts even before they get to the content. What is your landing page like? If you’re using a webform to gate your content (like so many are), have you gone through the experience on a small smartphone screen?

Spoiler Alert: Filling out a form on a phone is a horrible experience for the user.

If your conversion rates have been dropping, look at your stats and see how many people are arriving with a mobile device. You might have a hole in your bucket that you don’t know about.

Many companies are have taken to producing special mobile versions of their content in order to mobilize it, sometimes delivered as full “apps” in order to provide the best possible experience. And in some cases, particularly media-heavy content, this might be the right decision. However, most of your content doesn’t need such a heavy-handed approach, and you can’t assume someone will want to seek out a specific app anyway. Which leads us back to Rule #1: Your content needs to meet people where they are, and that content needs to be accessible as soon as they request it.

There are two possible solutions to this problem. First, you would need to take great care to make sure that your content experience has been tuned for the mobile experience across all of the channels that you market to. For the vast majority of companies, though, this is going to slow your content marketing dramatically as you’re forced to handle technical issues marketing isn’t used to dealing with.

The second and easiest solution is to use a cloud-based content marketing platform that has mobilizing content as core to the experience.


This is the end of Part 1 of “The Mobilization of Content and What It Means For You.” Click here for Part 2, where we discuss how PaperShare’s Content Marketing Cloud has solved the problem of making your content truly mobile.

Make Your Content the Destination with PaperShare

It’s just as true in content marketing as it is in any other kind of marketing effort: you need to be where your prospects are. You can’t assume that every potential customer is going to find you without some kind of outreach. Most marketing organizations deal with this challenge by treating channels as if they were buckets to be filled with content. It’s no wonder why this is frequently the source of frustration, because when you do that, you find out quickly that the bucket has a big hole at the bottom. You can barely keep up, much less get ahead. And don’t look now, but there are always more channels to think about.

If filling a channel with content is a push strategy, then it stands to reason that if you were to “reverse the polarity” and pull people to your content, you’d be able to solve the problem. By putting the focus on the content, you’re effectively bringing people to where the content lives (making it the destination) instead of pushing multiple copies of your content everywhere it needs to be. This allows you to use channels like social media the way they were intended, as a more conversational channel rather than shouting into the ether. It’s more compelling to say, “Hey, check out this great video”, than the typical “We created this video and want it to go viral, so please RT” that you see so often.

Since our launch in April, PaperShare has given you the best of both worlds by getting your content everywhere it needs to be, but also keeping it all in one place so you can measure its effectiveness. Our goal is to put the emphasis on your content, and use the channels for their intended purpose: raising awareness of the great content you have. The biggest way that we do that is we surface your content where people are as much as is possible, and we’ve created a variety of technologies designed to do just that.

For example, on Facebook, you can have a library of content on your Company Page (what we call a PaperClip) where people can explore your blogs, videos, whitepapers, or whatnot. However, they don’t have to leave Facebook to see any of that content; they’ll consume the content right there and when they’re done, they’re still there on your Facebook Page. The content is delivered to the customer by PaperShare, within your Facebook page, and the customer is can consume the content without being diverted.

Could you imagine if instead of an ad banner that took someone to a web page full of marketing messages and no real substance (which is how many ads work today), a typical ad banner could launch a piece of content that a person could view, and when they were finished, they’d still be at the site they were on? You can do that today with PaperShare’s AdClips. You can turn any piece of your content into a string of code that you could deploy as an ad on any website. Again, the goal here is to keep the customer where they are, but still surface that content for them to consume on the spot.

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We’ve found that when you change your focus from filling channels with content to putting content at the center of the conversation, it reveals more potential communications channels that you might not have considered. For organizations that do a lot of partner-selling, providing a library of your content that is always up-to-date and relevant is as easy as sending a snippet of code for them to put on their website once. You’ve now armed them with content that can make their jobs even easier. You can even help your sales people be more effective with their “social selling” by making sure they both know when new content is available, and giving them a tool to alert their social networks instantly.

We’ve also solved a big problem that many people weren’t even aware they had, which is how to deal with all of the copies of content floating around out there and keeping them up to date and current. PaperShare’s method of surfacing content means that there is only one copy of the content to deal with. When you update that content, everyplace that content has been deployed is updated automatically. Content in PaperClips, AdClips, or simple links all point to the new content automatically.

Lastly, when you’re down to a single piece of content, measurement becomes rich and powerful. You can know exactly who is viewing your content (using their social profiles), where they found the content, and other content they’ve read. You’ll know if they’re ready for a sales conversation, or just browsing around, because we’re not just measuring hits on a web page, we’re measuring the content itself.

If there’s any reason to consider making content the destination, that’s the big one. Where you really measure the effectiveness of your content isn’t in retweets, likes, or some other meaningless “engagement” metric. It’s in names, faces, and a profile of content they’ve consumed. Each potential customer is an individual, and the more you know about that person, the more effectively you can sell to them. And at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal of content marketing and marketing in general: putting well-qualified leads in your sales pipeline.

PaperShare Now Supports Publishing to LinkedIn Groups and Company Pages

The single most requested feature for PaperShare is here and available to all PaperShare users right now: publishing to LinkedIn Pages and Groups.

This is a feature PaperShare has wanted to give you for a long time, and we’ve worked with LinkedIn to make this feature a reality. Now, getting your content into groups that you’re a member of, as well as your LinkedIn company page, is part of the same easy publishing process. The indicator on the right side of the the LinkedIn box allows you to see which pages/groups you can publish to.

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Just like with all of your other channels, you can customize the message that accompanies your content, as well as schedule its delivery, separately from the rest of your channels.

LinkedIn displays the title and description, as well as your content cover right in the LinkedIn timeline for your company. Here’s an example of what it looks like when you publish to a group that you’re a member of:

Seattle_Social_Media___LinkedInThis new feature should help get your content even more reach. Give it a try and let us know what you think!