Like other major brands, Qualcomm has set out in the last 18 months to reach consumers through so-called content marketing (or "brand journalism," if you will). The semiconductors/telecom marketer has aimed to achieve the kind of consumer love that fellow business-to-business brands Intel and General Electric enjoy.
Liya Sharif, senior director of global marketing of Qualcomm, worked to get funding for the program and then hired editorial vets from the USA Today and PC Magazine to help lead a team of regular content staffers in a mobile-minded initiative dubbed Qualcomm Spark.
Sharif spoke with Adweek about the program, citing compelling performance stats when it comes to attracting new consumers. Here are some highlights from that conversation.
What's the chief goal behind Spark?
We are a b-to-b company that doesn't spend a lot on consumer advertising. So we had to find a more nimble and asymmetrical way of targeting consumers. And it became clear that we needed to get closer to consumers in terms of them being familiar [with] why certain technologies matter on their phone. So we've started focusing more on reaching early adopters, tech-savvy consumers and so forth, but not necessarily selling anything to them at all. We want to educate them about the power of mobile and teach them that it's what's in their device that really matters.
Who is creating the content?
We have always been focused on invention, and now we are focused on invention in the mobile and technology space. So we use a team of journalists, marketers and producers. We also bring in inventors, artists, movie makers and photographers and have them talk about interesting things through our op-eds, which we call "salons."
Is it working?
If you have great content and amplify it with earned public relations and paid ads, you can actually get that content in front of consumers in a meaningful way. We use native advertising, syndication and tools like Stumbleupon for our content to be discovered. So there are different ways we drive traffic to Spark.Qualcomm.com.
What data do you look at to judge performance?
We track traffic and repeat visitors. In the last year, we've seen a 70 percent average monthly increase in visits, while we've seen a 28 percent increase average monthly increase in [unique] visitors. We are also measuring via surveys on the site—so we can track how content marketing is impacting our brand awareness. Video views and social shares are also very important. We are constantly testing and learning.