Advertisers Struggle to See the ROI on Branded Content

Part of the allure of branded content is that when people share it in social media or it’s hosted on websites, marketers aren’t paying media companies to distribute it.

But marketers are finding content is far from cheap, and that “owned” and “earned” media don’t mean you don’t pay handsomely. A Gartner survey earlier this year found marketers now spend almost as much on content creation and management as they do on paid online display. And they’re spending almost twice as much on the infrastructure behind digital content — such as website operations, video production and social-media marketing — as they do on paid display and search combined.

Hence, efforts to measure and improve return on investment for content are on the rise. Procter & Gamble Co., which spends 25% to 35% of its U.S. marketing budget on digital, according to Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley, has been particularly focused on content ROI, according to people familiar with the matter.

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