Why Content’s 80:20 Rule is Really 80:40

Oracle’s Mark Hurd cites:  the Fortune 500 spends more on marketing each year, but revenue (excluding acquisitions) for half the Fortune 500 went down despite marketing spend going up.

It’s a self-serving statement pointing to the need for more marketing accountability for which Oracle sells (and so does C3 Metrics).  But it underscores two problems:

  1. Marketing Accountability across channels and devices isn’t yet mainstream
  2. New upper funnel marketing sources driving incremental growth are scarce

For #2, those new sources could be:

  • TV for advertisers not yet using TV.
  • YouTube video for TV advertisers not yet using video.

Chances are paid search, social, and display could be maxed out.

So what’s left?  It’s…

The 2019 Attribution Vendor Scorecard compares 15 attribution vendors across 15 customizable criteria.


Content in the form of brand-created content plus influencer marketing.

Content stats can wow you:

  • Euro RSCG study showed Word-Of-Mouth = 10x more impactful than TV
  • TNW study showed interest in influence marketing by marketers = up 90x

But, just like everything in life and business, there is no express elevator to success.

Almost always, you have to take the stairs.  Content is a long game.  It takes practice and diligence.  The Beatles spent 10,000 hours playing in grimy bars in Germany and Liverpool.

We took all the content viewed on the C3Metrics.com blog from January through November 20, and discovered that indeed it’s a long game.

There is no 80/20 rule in content.  No data showing that 20% of the posts generated 80% of the impact.

Confirming the long game of content:  it took 40% of all posts to generate 80% of the impact.

CEO of C3 Metrics advertising attribution data cloud Mark Hughes, and author of Buzzmarketing (Penguin/Portfolio) elaborates:

“It’s rare to be able to walk up to the plate and hit a Grand Slam on your few first at-bats.  At half.com, we did this by renaming the town of Halfway, Oregon (pop. 350) to Half.com, Oregon.

It was a rare time in our culture when everything ‘dot com’ dominated the news media, and the earned content we created by renaming that town added tons of gas to an existing fire which sparked eBay to buy half.com for over $300 million.

But before you can riff like Ray Charles, you have to learn Chopin.  

Practice, notes, scales.  Content is diligence, content is batting practice, content is exercise.

I can’t tell you how many times clients (before co-founding C3 Metrics) simply said:  “all we have to do is get Oprah to talk about us.” 

Sure.  All you have to do to win every game is score more points than your opponent.

Content is a long game.  But as you have more and more channels being tapped to combat the inefficiencies of media and creative, the measurement of all those channels and creatives gets harder and harder with more and more being thrown into the cooking pot.

Content is a marathon, not a shiny object for a month or a quarter.  It requires professional and great content creators, just like great publishers.  Also think about the nature of the content you have to sling.  At half.com, which sold movies, music, and books…there was a treasure trove of Angelina Jolie movies, to slice data any way possible.  

At an insurance company, there may be a treasure trove of safety data by type of car (and America has a love affair with cars).

But for small business insurance…meh.  So the level of content investment also has to be commensurate with the opportunity and the material available.  We did this in prior lives for GSK, Kimberly-Clark, and more.

But at the end of the day, content has to be measured.  Measured with an upper funnel tool;  not with lower funnel last click yardstick.”

Because if you measure content with a six inch yardstick (which only measures the bottom portion of the funnel), you’ll never discover the impact of upper funnel content.

Attribution Scorecard

The 2019 Attribution Vendor Scorecard compares 15 attribution vendors across 15 customizable criteria.

Criteria include:  fraud removal, user-level data, viewability, TV, and cost.