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Survey shows content-led marketing budgets expected to rise in 2022

Trusted digital media and paid social top platforms for amplifying content

According to the survey, the most popular platforms for amplifying content campaigns in 2021 were trusted digital media and paid social channels — each earning votes from 82% of respondents.

Future spending, particularly across these platforms, looks positive. Content-led marketing budgets are expected to rise over the next 12 months with the majority of advertisers expecting to increase their investment in paid social (47%). One hundred percent of advertisers said that they expect to maintain or increase their investment in trusted digital media channels in the year ahead.

The open programmatic marketplace is currently the least popular platform for amplifying content with just 24% of respondents using it, although 26% of advertisers plan to increase investment in the year ahead. This is according to the survey.

Context is still key in an ‘always on’ world

The majority of advertisers (62%) believe it’s important to be ‘always on’ for their customers. The favored strategy is to use brand storytelling to build long-term engagement with audiences so that, when the time comes for decision-making, their brand is front of minds.

Fifty-six percent of advertisers said they’d implemented this approach.

There’s still a clear belief, however, that context is important for providing the right engagement and impact for brand storytelling; advertisers rate this at 8.8 out of 10 on a sliding scale of importance, and agencies, media owners and consultants rate it at 8.9.

“After a challenging couple of years for the industry, it’s encouraging to see advertisers choosing to increase their investment in content-led marketing — particularly across trusted digital media brands,” says Belinda Barker, chief executive of the World Media Group. “It is testament to the fact that, even in the ‘always on’ world, cut-through and engagement for brand storytelling can only be achieved in the right context.”

What’s a content-led campaign best for?

Whilst the majority of advertisers (41%) believe that the content-led approach is best for building brand engagement, most of our agency leaders (37%) believe that it can be best for changing brand perceptions, says the survey.

A small majority of media owners (33%) believe that advertisers can use the content-led approach to demonstrate thought leadership, but 31% also believe it is best for brand engagement.

What are the best KPIs for measuring content?

Given that advertisers believe that the content-led approach is best for brand engagement, it’s not surprising that time spent with the content was the main KPI for the most number (23%) of advertisers.

It’s interesting to see that a shift in brand perceptions is considered a main KPI by the same number of advertisers, even though they didn’t rate that as an advantage of the content-led approach. The shift in brand perceptions was the main KPI cited by the most agencies (43%) and media owners (34%).

Creative’s next big thing

When to predict the most engaging creative approaches moving forward, there was a consensus that success was less about specific formats and more about concept and context, or leveraging existing formats in a new and distinctive way.

That said, audio and podcasts featured strongly — notably more than AR and VR which, compared to our previous surveys, suggests a reversal of opinion. Respondents also expressed concerns about an over-cluttered branded content environment, with many respondents referencing the need for closer integration with editorial content.

New talent looks positive

Also looking to the future, respondents were asked how confident they were in the pipeline of creative and talented rising stars joining the international marketing, advertising and media sector.

Sixty-six percent of respondents were quite or very confident that the creative and innovative future for international, content-led marketing was safe in the hands of the new talent entering the industry.

The research was carried out by the World Media Group, whose members include:

  • Atlantic
  • BBC GlobalNews
  • Bloomberg Media Group
  • Business Insider
  • The Economist
  • The Financial Times
  • Forbes
  • fortune
  • National Geographic
  • The New York Times Company
  • Political Europe
  • Reuters
  • Smithsonian
  • TIME
  • TheWall Street Journal, and
  • Washington Post.

The full report can be downloaded here.

For more information, visit You can also follow the New World Media Group on Twitter.

World Media Group World Media Group survey World Media Group annual content report annual content report 2022 report media reports 2022 average report 2022 average stats


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