Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
Traditional advertising is no longer where younger emerging fashion brands are investing their money. Traditional methods are too expensive and no longer serve the purpose that they were once intended to do. Search marketing (PPC), retargeting, affiliation and e-mail marketing are also either expensive or challenging if you're not an already well-respected player. So, brands are investing in their own content.
The trend has been happening for years - it's easier for a brand to move laterally and launch its own content platform, than for a magazine per se, to launch it's own e-commerce platform. Think Net-a-Porter and the launch of its Porter magazine, and Harrods has its own magazine, ASOS has its own magazine, Matches has its own magazine and just about every brand has its own digital magazine or blog, complemented by a multi-faceted social media strategy.
Why are more and more brands essentially becoming media owners and content generators? Content allows them to build direct relationships with their customers and then buy into the brand's ethos and become brand ambassadors.
Social media is a great stage for brands to hold conversations with their consumers. Different platforms play different roles for fashion brands. A blog is an extension of the brand and really carries the brand's voice, tone and mood. Instagram allows customers to follow a brand visually, Pinterest gives all all-encompassing lifestyle exploration, Twitter is for open conversations and news and Facebook is a great space for special customer offers and competitions.
Content blended with social shopping means more engaged customers, higher return rates, lower CPAs (cost per actions), more loyal buyers and less price sensitivity. The risk is that it's not always easy for brands to find the right balance. On one hand, they need to be really opinionated and have a clear voice in order to create genuine engagement and loyalty. On the other hand, being too opinionated might result in shrinking their audience. It is important for brands to understand what content performs best and measure impact on conversion-based on data.
Are you operating your own content-based advertising programme and interested in performance marketing? I would love to hear about it: firstname.lastname@example.org or @NathGaveau on Twitter.