How a change in privacy could lead to a boom in creativity

Today's average Internet user spends approximately 7 hours per day across all devices, which equates to more than 48 hours per week - a full two days of a seven-day week. As consumption grows across all platforms, including social media, online news, and streaming services, an increasing number of people are abandoning ad-supported linear offerings.

Expectations for engaging and entertaining content have skyrocketed, and mediocre blog posts are no longer acceptable. Traditional content marketing has faltered, prompting businesses to increase their investment in online advertising, particularly PPC.

Consumers, on the other hand, dislike advertisements and are willing to pay to avoid them, both online and while watching their favorite shows. Statista estimates that 38.8 percent of internet users now use ad blockers, and the average CTR (click-through rate) for ads on Google Search is 3.17 percent.

As more people become desensitized to traditional advertising, banner ads, and spammy newsletters, businesses must create original and engaging content in order to engage their target audience.

⏱ Times Are a-Changin' ⏱

On a technological level, things are moving rapidly toward data protection and privacy. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement is growing, third-party cookies will be a thing of the past for Google Chrome by the end of 2023, and Apple has made its mobile identifier an opt-in feature.

With Chrome enjoying close to a 70% share of the browser market and handling more than half of global web traffic, it effectively sounds the death knell for third-party cookies. 

This means that if your business is currently relying on third-party data…

🚀 Houston… You have a Problem 🚀

Moving forward, first-party data will be the new gold standard for effectively understanding user behavior and retargeting by delivering ads to people who visited your website but did not convert.


Because you know where the data came from and how it was gathered. This is great news for consumers because these changes ensure better privacy for consumers while also increasing demand for higher-quality media online.

What is High-Quality Content?

With great content, every company, no matter how big or small, aims to increase brand affinity and establish thought leadership. Blog content is frequently created and shared with the goal of increasing organic traffic and decreasing PPC spend. Furthermore, businesses exchange content or services in exchange for an email address.

This strategy has the potential to be effective if enough content is created and it is relevant to the company's industry. However, blogging is no longer sufficient. While over 7 million blog posts are published every day, only 5% of all content created by businesses generates the majority of brand engagement. In other words, 19 out of 20 blog posts receive little to no interaction.

Peddling corporate news and writing painstakingly planned SEO "content" that reads like a drunken friend does not build brand authority and trust, nor does it position your company as a thought leader. In fact, because your content reflects your company, it diminishes your brand in the eyes of viewers.

People are engaged by great content, and in this new landscape, content must do more than traditional content marketing or advertising. It must both entertain and inform. With third-party tracking on its way out, businesses will need to find new ways to create engaging original content.

The general consensus is that content engagement on the web is best measured by three key factors:

1. Active Page Dwell Time

The amount of time a user spends with content in the foreground tab of a browser.

2. Scroll Rate

The percentage of views where users scrolled, thereby indicating that they're interested in the content on a page.

3. Scroll Depth

The percentage of the total page length that users scrolled. The more of the page the users scroll through, the more engaged they are.

Getting Creative

Content has always been at the heart of marketing, from a catchy tagline after a TV commercial to in-depth white papers downloaded by CIOs and CTOs. However, as the demand for content generation grows, it is difficult and costly for businesses to keep up and remain relevant.

When creativity is infused into media, it creates a positive attitude toward the brand and results in lower advertising spend, allowing businesses to avoid the cost of a high and use their marketing budget much more effectively.

For example, by advertising to 2000 people or businesses that share the same values, CTR is much more likely to increase. It's a more effective long-term strategy than creating "recycled" keyword-rich content and dull whitepapers in an attempt to obtain someone's email address, which is just a long spam campaign.

In general, every company wants its content marketing efforts to achieve three main objectives.

Strengthen brand affinity and thought leadership.

Increase organic traffic and decrease paid traffic spend.

Create evergreen content to increase brand equity and SEO juice.


🎭 Branded Content 🎭

In-house content studios are now all the rage, with businesses like Red Bull and GoPro leading the way.

Going in-house is proving to be the answer to most companies' long-term sustainability problems, and the industry's biggest names have restructured their teams to make it a critical part of their digital advertising revenue.

Whether it's a startup looking to disrupt an industry or a Fortune 500 company like IBM or JP Morgan Chase looking to engage a new generation of customers, businesses big and small are changing the way they connect with their audiences - and the best way to do so is through stories, not advertisements.

Take, for example, Bayer, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. "When a company like Bayer does this, it's no longer a fad; it signals a fundamental shift in the marketplace," said Joshua Palau, VP of media strategy and platforms at Bayer, at the ANA In-House Agency Conference.

Many other companies, such as Clorox, Anheuser-Busch, and Verizon, have their own marketing departments. They say that if you want something done properly, you must do it yourself... So, what better way to ensure that your brand's content is exactly what you want it to be than to create it in your own studio?

Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.

Milton Hershey

Why In-House?

According to a World Federation of Advertisers study, more than half of multinational marketers, 57 percent, have established an in-house creative agency and according to Gartner 32 percent of CMOs moved their creative production from agencies to in-house in 2021.

In addition to having more control, brands that have made the switch have discovered other advantages of not having to go through a separate production agency: faster production times and lower costs.

Lowering production costs allows a company to continue investing in the tools and infrastructure required to build a strong internal agency, increase advertising budgets to reach more potential customers, and use cutting-edge technology to host and distribute content appropriately.

Most importantly, companies are saving money. A lot of it. 

  • JP Morgan Chase: In-house production arm, Inner Circle, has reportedly saved the company $20 million in marketing costs.
  • Procter & Gamble: Now has its own agency that writes and produces advertising "for one-tenth the cost and in one month instead of five months."
  • Unilever: Reports that by switching to in-house, the company saved 17% on agency fees in the first year.

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Innovative Companies Leading the Way

Media companies like Bloomberg, the New York Times, and Washington Post were among the first to set up digital content studios as their print advertising began to dwindle and clients sought more creative ways to reach consumers and create brand affinity. 

With the growing popularity of ad-free platforms and the end of interruptive advertising, more companies are now following suit. 

Mailchimp Logo

Mailchimp is setting the standard with its multimedia-rich publication Courier as well as its new business entertainment platform Mailchimp Presents.

Salesforce Logo

Salesforce+, a new service for business professionals, is the company's most recent technology offering for video streaming, according to CMO Sarah Franklin. The service is part of Salesforce's larger effort to shift its marketing strategy away from paid media and toward owned and operated media.

Shopify Studios Logo

Shopify Studios, which debuted in 2019, is a full-service film and television production company with the mission of inspiring and redefining entrepreneurship through original, entertaining, and thought-provoking storytelling.

Red Bull Studios Logo

When it comes to the business of creating and distributing eye-catching content, few do it better than Red Bull Media.

REI Logo

REI established its own content division, Co-op Studios, to create and distribute stories in the form of films, podcasts, and editorial programs with the goal of changing people's perceptions of the outdoor experience.

Corona Logo

Corona is one of the most recent to jump on board, launching Corona Studios late last year to create content about travel, surfing, sustainability, and other interests of the beer brand's customers. Free Range Humans, an eight-part series about people who quit their jobs to live an outdoor life, was launched by the studio, which has 11 full-time employees. It is promoted via trailer ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with an average view-through rate of more than 60% - roughly 50% higher than traditional ads.


Create better content. 🎨


Adams, P. . (2021). Why brands like Neutrogena and Old Spice are rushing to build internal content studios. Marketing Dive.
Brenner, M.. (2020). Banner Ads Have 99 Problems And A Click Ain’t One. Marketing Insider Group.
Bochicchio, M.. (2021). 5 Companies That Are Investing Deeply In Branded Studios. Wistia.
Chaffey, D.. (2021). Average CTRs display and search advertising – 2021 compilation. Smart Insights.
Coppola, J.. (2020). 5 Reasons Why 2020 Is the Year to Invest in Binge-Worthy Content. Wistia.
Iannopollo, E.. (2020). Predictions 2021: Privacy Becomes An Imperative In A Year Of Transition. Forrester.
Schwartz, M. . (2021). Branded Content Is Getting to Be a Real Scene. ANA Magazine.
Temkin, D. . (2021). Charting a course towards a more privacy-first web. Google.
Ad blocking user penetration rate in the United States from 2014 to 2021. (2021). . Statista Research Department.
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It's clear that over the long term (and sometimes even medium term) it's much better to build an in-house team that takes care of marketing. You're investing in your own people and building something that is part of your company. It's not going away and in theory, in time, it will become this well-oiled machine. Since the team doesn't have to focus on other companies, it can get to know yours, get to know your audience and learn how to put the two together so that you best attract and serve your potential clients without having to pay 10x to turn them into clients.

Corona Studios did great work with their Free Range Humans series. That's quality work right there and much better than they would have gotten from an ad agency, I think. If you build a good, in-house team and give them the power to express themselves freely and create without borders, you can get something like this that has a 60% view-through rate.

It's scary that most of us are wasting so much time on just consuming. We consume too much content, calories, news, etc. In moderation any of this wouldn't be bad or even dangerous but we are just doing way too much of it. I mean, 2 full days of just consuming news and other content? And then we complain that we don't have enough time for other, more important things like spending time with our loved ones, enjoying our free time, reading, etc?! Even I have a problem with this. I sometimes lose myself in scrolling social media. It's like an addiction.

Change is good, and changes in data protection and privacy are no exception. I expect to see a lot of growing pains as brands learn to adapt but I’m positive this will be very beneficial to consumers across the board. Hopefully the focus on quality content and meaningful engagement will result in more ethical business practices and weed out those looking to make a quick buck through predatory sales tactics.

I hate to say that I am (often) one of those 7 hour-ers mentioned at the beginning of this article…it feels so hard to step away from the phone when so much of our work can be done from our phones.
It’s really interesting to me to see how brands have transitioned to relying on ‘content’ when it didn’t feel that long ago that content creation was so misunderstood. Amazing !

I work for a company that started just before the pandemic so I can agree that companies and brands’ approach to content has to change because society has changed and will always be ever changing ! Great article to read if you’re learning how to market yourself or your business.

Great article. I work in a small non-profit private school and we started developing our marketing department and creating our own content a few years ago. We are the leader in this area in our market. It's a lot of work but well worth the effort.

Absolutely agree, its about delivering value and not the effort of squeezing every dollar out of your targeted consumers. These companies (especially Small to medium enterprises) give jobs to many people, so they have to make a profit! Besides, if the product is good and makes the consumer happier, richer or healthier, that always end up getting good consumers. Its just being clear and ethical with your systems probably is what we have to reflect on

Great point-transparency goes a long way!

I was very interested in reading this article because I’ve actually spent the last couple weeks reading up on how I can get my own shop up and running through Shopify. I had never really thought about how much consumers are bypassing ads and putting in ad blockers on their mobile devices and computers. Even I am willing to pay a little bit more so I don’t see ads on my favorite radio stations, TV, or websites. It really opened my eyes about how I can reach more consumers and building my brand and Spreading the word when my new Shopify account is set up. I also have a sister who is opening up her own website for painting so this is something I’m also going to share with her just to give her some up-to-date information that’s very helpful thanks!

Times are changing! Thanks goingsteady23 for the tools info

BuzzSumo, SEMrush and Moz

Great article. It's true, a new trend is emerging with content marketing. Businesses are performing screenshot audits, more frequently on competitor pages. These screenshots are then used to determine areas of improvement or to develop a social media strategy that will outperform competitors, especially in organic search rankings.

Initial research may be done by using tools such as BuzzSumo, SEMrush and Moz. These tools provide valuable insight into topics that are trending as well as the number of social shares and backlinks. When doing competitive analysis, digital marketers should consider cross-industry keywords to find pages with a high search volume but limited results in the SERPs.

Companies are competing for eyeballs in this content heavy world.  It’s smart to have content produced in house because it does gives the company control over the voice and message…and of course it saves money.  A generic/dry SEO post will not do.  The post does need to tell the brands story.  If a company does outsource the writing, they need to make sure the writer not only writes well, but can tell a story.