The United Arab Emirates popular daily news brand 7DAYS launched its content marketing studio, DEEP, in May 2016. On the morning it launched, I was a radio show guest on the government-owned station Dubai Eye 103.8, and I was asked if this is the way forward for traditional newspaper companies?

My answer: It is part of the way forward.

A focus on content marketing is critical in retaining a healthy relationship with existing and new clients that are either spreading their annual marketing budgets across an increased number of media channels or have moved away from print completely.

As an industry, we need to re-frame the conversation about content marketing. Our industry has been producing original, engaging, quality content for decades — and in the case of 7DAYS, for 13 years.

DEEP reframes content marketing as an opportunity for advertisers, media companies and journalists to tell engaging multi-media stories that are meaningful to their shared target audiences.
DEEP reframes content marketing as an opportunity for advertisers, media companies and journalists to tell engaging multi-media stories that are meaningful to their shared target audiences.

The rise of the Web and social media spawning a proliferation of media channels has polarised the need to harness our core competence and provide commercial partners, advertisers, and brands with a unique route to market that cuts through the clutter and engages a specific audience with relevant, informative content.

We must start a conversation that builds loyalty and reciprocal action, and results in increased business activity and profit. This is a commercial enterprise.

The opportunity the current media ecosystem offers is the ability for us to maintain relevance with our readers and followers.

Content can be distributed across multi-platforms in a timely way that complements the changing lifestyles and behaviors of consumers — wherever they might be.

Additionally, advertisers increasingly demand unique content, as opposed to discussions about direct messaging campaigns. We can frame this as un-interruptive marketing that positions a brand in a different context.

In launching DEEP to the UAE market, we have created an in-house unit that sits apart from the newsroom; however, the newsroom philosophy is fully integrated across the business.

One of our early projects, Roadsmart, was an idea from a local news reporter. It resulted in a five-week multi-media campaign supported by Honda and the Dubai Police.

Another recent project centers around the issue of cyber safety, and 7DAYS in association with Kings’ School in Dubai is bringing this important social issue to the fore. Our entire media portfolio has been deployed, and video is central in the execution. 

It is important to bear in mind that a brand may wish to align itself with a corporate responsibility message or support a particular cause that has little to do with the product they sell. This has more to do with the brand identity, the values they aim to create, and the opinion they want consumers to have of them.

Our experience over the past 12 months has shown that, while print spend has declined, in many cases the total spend from those clients engaging in content-based projects has actually increased.

This has been true across automotive, FMCG, hospitality, education, and utilities.

Investment in our video production capabilities has paid dividends. With 70% of our web traffic via mobile, it is vital that the option for high-quality, short-form video is available within our portfolio. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Let’s start a new conversation.