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Brand content needs to be a money-spinner, warns Mondelez global content lead

Brands need to be making a profit from their content and not relying on product sales to pay the production bills, the global head of content for Mondelez has warned guests at Sydney’s AANA Reset conference.

Laura Henderson

Laura Henderson: “It’s costing more than ever before to reach the same people and yet my budget is growing incrementally”

At the same time, brands need to continue to find ways to help legacy media channels such as TV and print remain profitable or risk losing a vital connection with mass audiences.

Laura Henderson, Mondelez global head of content and media monetisation, told the AANA Reset conference that marketing budgets were now under so much pressure that companies needed to look at content as a revenue centre in its own right and not just rely on sales generated by such campaigns.

Mondelez plans to have 10% of its content at break-even or turning a profit by 2020.

She said people skipping ads and using ad-blockers was having a major impact on the way advertisers were looking at the future.

“People are skipping our ads, they’re blocking our ads, they’re avoiding our ads. What people are doing is really wreaking havoc on the economics of this industry,” Henderson said.

“We are still buying media in terms of impressions which is the potential for somebody to see your message.

“It’s costing more more money than ever before to reach the same amount of people and yet my budget is growing incrementally.”

Mondelez is addressing the issue with the creation of the content division which is also designed to make money from the content it produces and not just the brands it promotes.

Last year Henderson started work on a project to promote Stride Gum which saw the brand support an attempt by a man to jump from 25,000 feet without a parachute into a net and live.

The stunt was a massive gamble for the company, taking it out of its safety zone with the real possibility the stunt could go tragically wrong.

However, Henderson said working in partnership with specialists, and with Fox in the US becoming a media partner, the stunt worked and Mondelez created a piece of content that achieved 1 billion impressions, $15m in earned media value and was the number one trending topic on social media.

At the same time the content will become a show and film, helping to underwrite its production.

Speaking with Mumbrella afterwards, Henderson said that content needed to be high-quality to perform.

“For us its really a two-sided model where, yes, we are creating content that’s going to build our brands and drive our ROI but we also think the economic piece underneath is important because unless we can start to pay back some of these investments we won’t be able to afford the quality of content that we need,” she said.

The first year was about testing and learning, the next year moving forward is about developing and scaling.”

But once content is developed it needs media channels to play out on and she warned that brands needed to support the channels that had helped build them historically as well as those that were emerging.

“I think the conversation starts with how the question ‘how do we both get more value?’. It’s less transactional, it’s less about writing a cheque and getting something in return, it’s more about having a very open conversation,” she said.

“I truly do believe that there is an economic imbalance in the industry right now – we are hurting but so are media owners and publishers. In a world where you project forward, there is less and less traditional ad space, where is that revenue going to come from that will help content creators continue to fill the funnel?

“Unless we have these conversations on how to work differently we are all going to suffer.”

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