“The chasm between direct response advertising and general advertising is wide. On your side of the chasm I see knowledge and reality. On the other side of the chasm I see ignorance.”

Nearly two decades since his death, Ogilvy’s dream is now a reality. Inbound and outbound marketers now work side by side to craft engaging content that accompanies the consumer across each step of the sales funnel.

Nowadays, most content marketers typically use some sort of direct advertising in their campaign strategy. Yet, while content marketing for direct response is a great way to reduce your customer acquisition cost, it tends to only focus on conversion.

In the digital age, focusing on conversion is attractive, but it also moves your focus away from a full-funnel strategy. Especially if you’re a newer brand, a focus on brand awareness will yield much stronger results. However, once you reach a certain point of awareness, then you should begin optimizing for conversion. This omnichannel marketing approach allows for several customer touchpoints to increase brand awareness and push the consumer closer to conversion.

Brand awareness is often overlooked in favor of conversion, but let’s not forget—​if nobody knows who you are, are they likely to purchase your product? Brand awareness isn’t just whether your audience knows your brand, but how well they understand its value proposition. Therefore, your content needs to concisely highlight the qualities that set your brand apart from its competitors.

We decided to test whether we could increase brand awareness and recall for a client new to the alcoholic beverages sectors using branded content hosted across our network of owned and operated publishers. Here’s what we found:


Our hypothesis posited that by adjoining content articles with compelling stories to paid advertisements on a major social media platform, we could raise the awareness funnel to increase in brand recall.


Prior to launch, the GeistM content team identified two compelling storylines for articles based on client’s target audience data. This audience data was cross-referenced with top-performing content pieces across similar brands in the Food & Beverage vertical to inform content ideation which included a piece on the history of the brand’s founders and another content piece offering five reasons as to why the brand was disrupting the Food & Beverage sector.

Paid campaigns were launched across Facebook and Instagram and optimized with the goal of surpassing our client’s internal CTR and lowering their CPC. Several weeks later, we used this front-end data—​specifically demographic insights that were determined based on which audiences had the highest CTR—​to optimize said content to better resonate with the brand’s core audiences.


After just one month of testing GeistM content campaigns to increase brand awareness, the client saw a 34% lift in organic Google searches for their brand compared to the month prior.

Additionally, the client achieved a 112% lift in social referrals to their site from Facebook and Instagram combined when compared to the prior month.

For a newer brand in such a crowded space, this focus on brand awareness yielded much stronger results than a sole focus on optimizing for conversion. Ogilvy may have pushed for the marriage between content and direct response, but it’s important to remember that leveraging a top-of-the-funnel sales approach can also be very effective.

It all comes down to what strategy is the best fit for your brand and product. Instead of wasting ad spend, contact us today to learn how to tailor your content strategy to maximize your return!