Context is king

I chuckle when sitting in presentations and a slide appears referencing the decade old "content is king" adage. Would anyone contest this?

I chuckle when sitting in presentations and a slide appears referencing the decade old “content is king” adage. Would anyone contest this?

Yet amid my personalized stream of “opted-in” content, I'm submerged in a tsunami of material that takes more time than I ever have to consume it, and it's all great content. So while content quality is important, it's relevance and proximity to which we as marketers should aspire. Great content is table stakes, but more than ever “context is king.”

There has been much focus across the digital marketing spectrum on how to deliver this (cookies, taxonomy, semantics). How do you present a brand message as close as possible to your target that demonstrates relevance without being intrusive and continues to get them to “lean-in” to your story? The notion of “context is king” has been discussed for years including a variety of references from the consumption of online video to concepts of social search by Brian Solis all to deliver greater relevance.

On a panel months ago I discussed the notion of hyper-relevance. Brands seek relevance by listening to conversations online - the first thing that we tell our clients.

Access to the combination of people talking, their peer networks (and preferences), purchases, their published and collected content, paths and online behavior, and physical location have made our job as marketers easier. Endless user-generated data tells us in real-time the information that might otherwise have been impossible to obtain.

While personalization requires consumers to volunteer their preferences for desired content or an experience, hyper-relevance requires the intuition of brands and marketers to read and understand these cues and create an appropriate connection. Ability to microtarget (and create relevance) is only limited by the consumer's willingness to disclose.

This year we've seen attitudinal studies about online privacy and some of the highest profile cases. Now more than ever we have the opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate relevance in a manner that honors the user. And while all marketing disciplines can mine these social artifacts, the ability to deliver value and an authentic message in the context of the online lives of the consumer is undoubtedly what enables PR to drive the social media agenda for brands.

Chad Latz is president of the global digital practice at Cohn & Wolfe.

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