Q&A with Aaron Robinson, Director, Custom Content at The Wall Street Journal

Aaron-Robinson
Aaron leads the development of innovative cross-platform solutions and engaging, influential content for the global blue-chip client base at the Wall Street Journal having previously been part of the strategic mar-keting and client solutions teams at both Bloomberg Media and The Economist.

Q: Why is now a relevant time to be launching these awards?
Aaron: Content creation is proving to be a powerful tool for brands to deliver deeper engagement with consumers and global publishers are really starting to push the boundaries of how great stories can be told via content. There has never been a better time to highlight the best in content creation worldwide and showcase the ways in which brands publishers and agencies can unite to tell original stories that resonate with readers.

Q: What is different about these awards?
Aaron: The World Media Awards have been launched specifically to celebrate the best in international, cross-platform, content-driven campaigns.

Q: What does good native content look like?
Aaron: Great native campaigns leverage powerful content with the trust of a publishers’ audience. There must be a genuine connection between the two brands and the campaign must be executed in a way that is not seen to deceive the user. The best campaigns are those that have been both timely as well as delivered real substance that the audience can use. Above all ‘native’ must feel like it’s delivered in the voice of the platform it appears on.

Q: Why should brands use native content – what is it best suited to achieve?
Aaron: Content is a powerful tool for brands to deliver more than just product messaging. Content can allow the brand to own certain stories or themes and profit from that association. It also gives access to loyal audiences within trusted editorial environments. It has great potential to extend reach and deliver high levels of engagement that traditional advertisements sometimes cannot.

Q: Why are consumers embracing branded content?
Aaron: Done well, branded content can provide useful and insightful content that adds real value to the audience but the key word here is relevance. The piece must apply to the audience in question or it could be overlooked by the user – which is why the right partnerships between brands and publishers can be so powerful.

Q: What should clients look for in a native advertising/branded content proposal? And what should they look for in the team who will be delivering it?
Aaron: The most important aspect of any proposal is always the idea – the concept, hook or story you are trying to tell. The pitch needs to show how the publisher can help you tell the stories that matter to your specific audience, why it’s a unique and effective idea, and above all directly addresses both the business and communication goals of the client and helps solve their challenges. It’s also all too easy to overcomplicate things and throw the kitchen sink at briefs. Most times, the simpler the idea, the more impact it will have.

Q: How do you measure the impact of content-driven communications?
Aaron: Marketers are bombarded with a huge number of metrics they could use to measure campaign effectiveness, but the important thing here is that before you can assess how effective you have been, you need to be clear on what you are trying to achieve. And these objectives need to be smart, measurable and achievable. You can then use reach, engagement or conversion metrics based on these. I think the movement towards using engagement (dwell, interactions etc) over just pageviews and clickthroughs makes a lot of sense. Quality over quantity.

See more interviews / Judges’ views on what makes great, content-led, international advertising.

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