Interview with Katya Ionova, Creative Director, UK & EMEA, Business Insider

Belinda –  What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in content marketing since the awards began five years ago?”

Katya – Tempting to say the rise of audio; however, the rise of stories as a definitive format across Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube has had a more fundamental, habit-forming impact on our content consumption and content efforts from both brands and media. Visually rich, “tap for more” stories have created a new avenue for audience development and engagement, creative expression, and format innovation.

The other areas that have seen a tidal wave of movement are measurement – beyond just views and page views; long-form video – in 2015 the debate was ‘is 90 seconds too long” vs. today’s “is 9 minutes too short’; and yes, the rise of audio and voice products.

Belinda – What do you think will be the biggest trend in content marketing in 2020?

Katya – I would like it to be simplicity. Sometimes it feels like the quest for “never-been-done-before” media-firsts adds layers of complex design, animation, and visual effects to communicate a point that may just as well be shared with a simple meme. Requests for sponsoring or creating branded podcasts will remind us of Groundhog Day. The could-be-big theme of 2020 – the year of big global events and significant anniversaries such as the 50th anniversary of WEF, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, 2020 Olympics, Expo 2020 Dubai, the US Presidential Elections and more – could be the “eventification” of content. 

Belinda – Which new innovation do you think has the potential to have the greatest impact on the consumption of content marketing?

Katya – Since Gutenberg’s press, the speed of content delivery has been the most critical innovation, which enabled further breakthroughs in content creation and consumption. As you can gauge from numerous B2B and B2C campaigns – 5G is coming. High-speed infrastructure will enable even longer long-form content, faster real-time rendering for content personalization, and more impressive immersive media. 

Belinda – How is data changing the way you design your content strategy?

Katya – Our DMP analyzes and stores user data while prioritizing consumer privacy and eliminating the need for cookies. The deep, first-party behavioral data is used to build more meaningful custom content that accurately reflects consumer preferences. 

Belinda – How can brands use content marketing to align themselves with particular values or topical issues?

Katya – Brand Activism is a topic of much debate and interest at the moment. The companies behind the world’s most powerful brands have enormous resources to champion change. Many have shown support for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, rallied behind movements, invented hashtags, and have taken an active point of view on divisive issues. Content with a cause, however, can quickly be labelled as woke-washing if the brand’s content does match the brand’s business practices. Crucially, the motivation here is what’s important: is the reason to align with topical issues primarily driven by commercial objectives [brand lift, reach etc.] or by an almost altruistic quest to achieve behavioural change beyond the corporate P&L? 

Belinda – Can you sum up the holy-grail of content-marketing in one sentence?

Katya – An audience inspired towards positive action through time well spent with your content.    

Belinda – What is the secret to implementing a successful cross-border advertising campaign?

Katya – More so a key strategic consideration rather than a secret: finding the right partner(s) with proven, cross-border audience engagement capabilities. And that’s what World Media Group members bring to the table: an engaged and willing to be informed audience, already engaged in an intelligent conversation that transcends borders.

Belinda – What’s the key difference between targeting a domestic audience and an international one? 

Katya – Language. And taking time to understand the mindset of an international audience.

Belinda – How can you measure the success of your partnerships during an international campaign? 

Katya – Success metrics vary; however, if measured results share a consistent, positive trajectory across key metrics for all the international markets then the media selection strategy, audience targeting, and core content proposition have been effectively applied and executed.  

Belinda – What is the best content marketing campaign you’ve ever seen? And why did it stand out?

Katya – Best ever, in the history of humanity is the Michelin Guide. The brothers were spot on [just like so many of today’s new media outlets] to focus on the audience passions for food and travel and in the process, developed an [e]commerce lifestyle powerhouse while promoting the premium qualities of the core brand. Most recently, “Bedroom Habitats” from IKEA and NatGeo – irreverent, yet factual and focused on a core human need – a good quality sleep. 

Belinda – Why is benchmarking and celebrating great international advertising strategies essential for the success of the industry as a whole?

Kayta – Life-long learning is now a megatrend. We can all learn from each other, inspire each other, and boost confidence in the times when the industry calls to rethink, re-evaluate and reimage everything galore. Award-winning strategies that prove advertising and media effectiveness on an international scale allow us to take the industry forward and set higher standards collectively.

Belinda – What is your top tip for creating a winning entry?

Katya – Don’t just rely on zeitgeisty buzzwords to make your entry stand out. It is highly likely we’d see quite a few entries with a heavy word count for “authentic,” “data-driven,” “storytelling” with “purpose.” So make the narrative of your entry standout through bravery, humour, and wit. And one small, hopefully useful, test – imagine you are pitching your campaign as a behind the scenes/tell-all documentary to Netflix et al. What would be the logline to pitch the conflict and intrigue of your campaign in just one sentence? A compelling “logline” in the opening paragraph of your award entry will entice the judges to find out more.


Katya Ionova is one of our World Media Award Judges for 2020. Our judges will be looking for content driven campaigns with international influences, to find out more about the World Media Awards and how to enter CLICK HERE 

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