What’s Ahead in Paid Media: Interview with LinkedIn Partner SHIFT

Q&A With Greg Lieber, VP Business Development SHIFT

October 23, 2014

With over 93% of business marketers diving into content marketing, brands are turning to strategic partners to add value and efficiency to their content efforts. These partners offer a range of solutions for marketers: everything from campaign management tools and social media dashboards to content development and full-service media teams.

I recently spoke with Greg Lieber, VP Business Development at SHIFT (one of our own LinkedIn Certified Marketing Partners), to get a sense for how brands should approach a common challenge: navigating the relationship between paid, earned, and owned media. Following are excerpts from our conversation.

Q&A With Greg Lieber, VP Business Development SHIFT

Andrew Kaplan: What are the biggest challenges that marketers face today with paid, earned, and owned media?

Greg Lieber: The number one challenge as the space has evolved is also the most crucial variable in the entire equation: content. We see this more every day as the industry continues to evolve into a native, non-interruptive advertising environment. The strength of a brand’s organic content is the best indicator of what a successful paid campaign will be, so identifying that content has become paramount for marketers. Tools that LinkedIn has developed such as the Content Marketing Score help brands understand how to succeed in this ever-evolving content environment.

Another challenge we find is organizational connectivity. In many advertising scenarios there are many different stakeholders - the creative agency, the media agency, the brand directly, social platforms, etc. It can be overwhelming to understand how to connect the dots to make sure that campaigns run smoothly and are optimized properly. At SHIFT, we built an entire platform to address this workflow and the challenges it presents. Our platform lets stakeholders communicate around campaign initiatives in a single space and allows marketers to discuss network buys, transfer assets back and forth, obtain approval and share regular updates with teammates to connect the dots.

The third challenge is measurement, which has been the elephant in the room for as long as the paid/owned/earned media equation has existed. It’s considerably better today than it was back in 2010, and while all of the major platforms have taken huge steps to address these challenges, marketers would – and should – continue to expect better tools to measure performance.

AK: How has the interaction between organic content and paid content evolved over the past several years?

GL: Overall, it’s grown in complexity. The number of people required to build a single social media campaign continues to grow, which is a marked difference from four years ago when sometimes it was just one person in the PR firm or one person experimenting with social advertising on the brand team. Over time, as brands started to see results from owned, earned and paid media, more people were assigned to these campaigns - and the complexities increased as well.

Today, there’s a lot more pressure on brands to create content. They can’t put up one post per day and hope it will go viral. Using paid media as a channel to achieve reach is probably the most important trend we’re seeing, simply because it is more or less becoming a necessity to do so. Most of the brands that SHIFT works with are looking to optimize for reach, and leveraging paid media allows them to do just that.

Looking ahead to 2015, the key to understanding the relationship between organic and paid is ironically the same as it was in 2010: testing and learning what succeeds on the organic side in order to better inform a brand’s paid strategy, or vice versa. The platforms themselves are tailoring products to make this practice easier for advertisers. On LinkedIn, for example, Direct Sponsored Content allows brands to target a very specific subset of their audience and gather insights about the types of content that work best before they put additional spend behind the highest performing content.

AK: As the social landscape continues to evolve, what can brands expect to see from paid media?

GL: I think brands will not only continue to be content-minded publishers, but they will also become more involved in media buys. In addition to brands taking a more front and center role when it comes to media budgets, I believe we’ll see them being more active in selecting the content to promote in the paid environment.

Secondly, we’ll continue to see a gradual move towards an identity-based paid media environment. In the pre-social advertising world, large ad network buys didn’t facilitate true identity-based ad targeting. This approach just doesn’t cut it in today’s world where social has emerged as a strong layer of the Internet and people access multiple devices every day. Today brands can leverage social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and gain access to valuable data – volunteered by users – and use that data to tailor content for audiences across multiple devices. This “one-to-one content marketing at scale” is currently achievable and will only get better as identity-based targeting becomes more prevalent.

Finally, I think we’ll see massive improvements with regards to measurement. It’s still quite difficult for brands to ingest the countless streams of data from their paid, owned, and earned initiatives. I think you’ll see a lot of companies placing a greater emphasis on making sense of their data. From our point of view, attribution of data will be a main area of focus. Brands want to gain insight into the most effective content across channels and devices and learn how it can feed back into their paid, owned, and earned initiatives.

Want to learn more about our LinkedIn Certified Marketing Partners and how you can start optimizing your content campaigns on LinkedIn with their help? Visit our site.

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