In the report, 2015 Content Marketing and Data Intelligence, iProspect and MEC provide two separate studies to better quantify the role and strength content plays in the marketing mix.
Research by MEC set out to explore the ‘blackbox’ element of content market – put simply – understanding why people share it.
The media agency identified the top 50 most shared pages for a range of sectors (entertainment, industrial B2B, travel, ecommerce and insurance). Using a range of social / search tools along with manual review of content, MEC then analysed the pages by page type.
It found the most shared type of branded content socially is pure editorial such as how-to guides (37 per cent), ahead of news (17 per cent), corporate social responsibility and charitabe content (20 per cent), and research (6 per cent).
The biggest motivator to share was found to be the practical value of content, driving 35 per cent, followed by the fact that users believed tha by sharing it, it reflects well on their "personal brand" (31 per cent).
Ben McKay, managing director of MEC Organic Performance, said: "This feels like a very powerful area for brands to influence.
"Time and time again, MEC has seen that you can increase your chances of successfully earning reach for your content by undertaking observational studies... It does not remove the need for paid media to support content, but it can help draw more long-term value from a growing expense to the average business."
Mobile is driving video engagement in social
Also in the report, research by iProspect includes analysis of almost one billion Facebook posts in an attempt to identify which types of ad content drive particular business objectives.
It comes as Facebook is expected to generate more than £750 million from advertising in the UK this year.
Out of the various formats the social network offers advertisers, Facebook Link page posts were found to drive the highest revenue, while the video ad format generates the highest number of views, suggesting it is the best choice for branded content.
However, where a user sees an ad also affects how the respond. The report highlights how mobile is now driving video engagement in social media. In fact, the completed video view rate on mobile (0.49 per cent) were found to be twice as high as that on desktop (0.24 per cent).
Yet, when it comes to people wanting to buy things online, desktop remains by far the preferred option over mobile devices; users who had seen ads on a desktop were more than five times as likely to go on and make an online purchase than those who had seen ads on a mobile device.
Dentsu Aegis’ iProspect research goes on to calculate that £15.45 of revenue is generated per 1,000 impressions on desktop, compared with just £3.45 on mobile.
An 'exciting time' for content marketing
Andrew Hirsch, chief executive of John Brown and chairman of the CMA, said: "It’s an exciting time to be in content marketing – and a pretty satisfying one too. For years, we’ve been telling clients that content works harder for their money, goes deeper and drives longer-lasting change than anything else.
"Now the spread of data - not just the tools and the literacy, but in terms of clients’ willingness to enter the space between point of sale and customers too – has shown we were right."
According to the CMA, content marketing is worth more than £4 billion, and represents about £1 in every £4 spent on marketing. Budgets allocated to content marketing continue to increase, and are reported to be around 25 per cent of total spend.