Metadata: The unsexy secret of Content Marketing ROI


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Metadata isn’t sexy, but it’s important

Metadata isn’t sexy. It doesn’t even sound vaguely sexy. It’s certainly not as chic as “immersive design” or “rich media”, and no industry event has ever given away a ‘Best Use of Metadata’ award. However, as brands like Kraft have shown, metadata is vitally important for proving content marketing ROI and understanding audience interests.

Metadata simply means ‘data about data’. Examples of metadata include those labels you see on your computer files: ‘data modified’, ‘file type’, ‘owner’, etc. The advent of Content Intelligence has meant that the process of tagging content can be automated; natural language processing ‘reads’ an article like a human would and can identify and tag it with all sorts of information. Suddenly metadata is no longer just ‘filename’; it can be the people, places, products, themes, organizations – the content topics – contained with an article.

Why is this important? Because the same content metadata that Content Intelligence uses to describe your content can be used to describe the consumers that interact with that piece of content – enabling brands to identify their audience’s interests and needs and use this information for insight and engagement.

Content marketing needs to deliver commercial returns

Thankfully, we’re starting to move away from the early days of content marketing and native advertising when it was enough to deliver plaudit-winning creative and no-one asked the only question that matters: “Has this actually made us any money?”

We’re all content marketers now and the new imperative is to prove that content marketing is delivering commercial returns – not just ‘awareness’ or ‘more unique visits’. This leads to an inconvenient truth: many content marketers are struggling to prove the ROI of their efforts.
The reasons for this are manifold, including:

The natural ‘cost-benefit lag’ of content marketing: The gains lag behind the upfront costs of producing that content
Customer database coverage: Many brands do not have detailed records about their customers – let alone their interactions with content – working from inferences made from a sample of data-captured customers.
Unable to attribute revenue to content performance: content marketers struggle with the twin issue of getting a global overview of all their brand content and understanding what effect it has had on each of their customers.

In all cases, the problems could be ameliorated by using content metadata to tag consumers as they interact with brand content, thereby identifying the content topics of interest that are driving the most amount of revenue for the brand.

How Kraft used metadata to make content pay for itself

If the above sounds fanciful, let’s take a look at a brand that is taking content marketing and metadata seriously – Kraft Foods.

Last year, Julie Fleischer (Director of Data, Content and Media at Kraft Foods Group) got up on stage at Content Marketing World and made a statement that made the content marketing and advertising world take notice:

“Our content marketing yields 4x better ROI than our traditional advertising”

How was she able to say this? Metadata. Kraft has built a “content engine” where they have tagged and tracked more than 22,000 different attributes of their audience based on their behaviour and engagement with web content. This is no small feat when you consider that Kraft Foods receives 100m visits to its web properties. By tagging Kraft’s content, the business was able to build first-party data sets on the emerging and evolving interests of their audience. This in turn meant they could optimise their content marketing strategy – underperforming content topics were dropped, high-performing topics continued. Understanding the content topics that were most interesting to the audience meant they could then use targeted ads around those topics – driving further business value.


Kraft’s content marketing is but one example of a brand using metadata for consumer insight and content success. Indeed, B2B organizations that use content such as whitepapers and PDFs to engage, nurture and ‘score’ sales leads are capitalising on content metadata to identify prospect interests. In this environment, knowing a prospect’s interests is the difference between a failed and successful sales call – there’s a very clear revenue effect.

It’s time that content marketers start taking metadata seriously – it might not be cool, but content marketing ROI certainly is!

Jonny Rose
Idio makes buyer-centric marketing possible for global B2B enterprises. Idio’s Demand Orchestration platform uses Content Intelligence to predict the interests of every individual, and automatically deliver relevant 1:1 experiences across digital channels. Global leaders including Intel, Fitch Ratings, and AllianceBernstein trust Idio’s AI to maximize buyer engagement and pipeline, whilst automating marketing complexity.


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