Interviews

Charles Hough, Chief Operating Officer, NEWSCRED

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CONTENT MADE CREDIBLE

NEWSCRED brings authenticity to content creation

Was there any difficulty in settling in here? Does the heat bother you?
Absolutely not! Although my home base was in Singapore, I spent most of my time outside the country. South-East Asia including Bangladesh is a very exciting market for us. It is also an exciting place for software and content developers. There is so much happening all around, it is very thrilling to be part of it.

Give me your understanding of the content and digital marketing scene in Bangladesh, from the point of view of journalism, advertising, and marketing?
It probably lacks the evolution that has taken place in North America by a little bit. We have learned a lot about how the evolution impacts journalism, content as well as the enterprises making use of the contents as a way to tell their stories for the purposes of acquiring customers or proliferating their business. The sector is flourishing in Bangladesh, as it goes through the same journey, we want to be the agent; taking the lessons we have learned in other markets and propagate that with our partners. To make use of content as business asset and build lasting relationships with customers and users.

Do you think the infrastructure in Bangladesh is ready for that evolution?
It will be ready soon. The transition from print to online media happened very quickly, and it’s getting more and more traction. With the proliferation of mobile phones, broadband and mobile data, it’s only going to grow and the pace will pick up in the future.

What is your approach to data-driven marketing?
Data-driven marketing is core to everything that we do. If you look at our software platform – CMP (Content Marketing Platform) – it covers everything from content creation to content analytics. It goes from creation to workflow of development, production, and distribution. And then once users consume the content, we have analytics that provides insights which you can use as feedbacks when strategizing. For example, evaluating what’s working and not working and what kind of content users care about. It may bring a change in the content strategy and you go through that cycle again. At each stage of that whole cycle, we use a data-driven approach throughout. It might be a different set of data but the methodology is pretty much the same. You are infusing the understanding of your previous analogy to make better decisions. For example, one of the first things that the content marketers have to do is decide what are the key factors, that depends on a lot of things like strategy, target audience and what are their interests, the demographics and so on. It takes a lot of research if you were to do it manually which is a massive undertaking. Often marketers do not bother with a manual approach as it is so massive.

On the other hand, what we do is gather data. This includes search and performance data, the kind of questions people are asking and then after analyzing we recommend to our partners the topics they might want to consider. Based on the understanding, we also evaluate the commercial value of a write-up, which is based on the insights that we gather. This is how we assist content creators at the beginning of the cycle. Helping them to think about the content they are going to write. That permeates throughout the entire process. And then at the end of the process, we pick up more data signals, which is mainly about users and content. At the end of the day, the interaction between users and content matters the most.

NEWSCRED brings content from publishers to brands; most brands have their own marketing team, why would they come to you?
Because there is no need to duplicate the effort. We evaluate different avenues to help brands reach their maximum potential. So, in house marketing team creates regional content, in addition there is opportunity to use contents that’s been already created by publishers outside. Combination of those two helps to create the best content marketing possible. These days’ products are getting more complex, and sometimes an underlying technology is part of your messaging which you can use to create your own content, in addition, you can borrow content on that technology making your product more appealing. An author with previous experience of that particular technology will have better content then the in house marketing team. Infusion of publisher’s content and the marketing team will create a content that really augments the product. We bring all those things together in the platform we provide. In our platform, we have a product called Market Place. We have millions of assets written by license partners, we call it Content Market Place, where you can choose and augment your own marketing program.

You coined the phrase “Digital Waste” and how we are just bombarded with information all the time, like the average user has 11000 ads that they see. How does NEWSCRED make a difference?
Digital waste is another reason why you might not want to create more original content. There is far too much content out there and some of it is terrible. There is a lot of fake information out there and one of the reasons behind NEWSCRED’s existence is to extract necessary, credible information from a sea of contents. That is our mission, that’s where the name NEWSCRED comes from. We are able to provide the most relevant and most performing content and recommend its use. And then also augment it with the original content because the thing that most users will care about is how original your content is and how relevant it is to your business. They don’t have the time to go through everything and research on every topic. We want to be the party that does that work for you. We help organizations create content through our platform and help maximize their content marketing program performance. We are here to help organizations to steer through the digital waste and only create content relevant to their product and audience.

Is there a story behind the name of the company? Don’t you think people might mistake it as a news company?
Our business model has certainly evolved, but partnering with journalists is very much alive. Its true that there is a difference between journalism and content marketing but the core value of authenticity is the same. That value is alive in everything that we do. So, the evolutionary story is this, originally it was to help filter most credible news from the sea of fakes, which reflects in our name. That helped us to build a large collection of the most credible content. With this, we have created the product called Licensed Content Marketplace. Any organization can use this market place without worrying about originality, technical or copyright issues. We handle all those issues, so they can trust that any content that goes from the market place can be used at any point in time. Therefore, our product may be different but the principle of gathering authentic information is alike that’s why we haven’t changed our name. The name actually hits the core of our content value.

You are physically present in nine countries but you operate in 70 countries. Do you have any other offices in South Asia?
We have two other offices. One is in Sydney and the other is in Tokyo. In South-East Asia, Dhaka is the only place we are physically present.

Is there any difference between the Bangladeshi market and other countries in South East Asia?
Dhaka is a special place for us because its our home now. This is our regional headquarters and where our R&D team is. We are going to have more regional marketing operations as well.

Last question, do you believe marketing can change the world?
Yes, it has and it will. The story of our evolution to the current state is relevant to this answer. There is a question of how marketing organizations can work more effectively, as there is a lot of inefficiency within any marketing organization. It goes back to how teams can work better together. Marketing organizations work with content. Every time, you would find that each team works in a cycle. We talk about data-driven approach, even if a team which is employed in data-driven approach, the data that they generate will not always integrate with other departments, which makes the job of a global CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) very difficult. The best use of the platform right now is that it has all the content and the insights on the content power the workflow between different partners like publishers and freelancers. So, we have now created another term called Integrate Marketing – this includes everything we have discussed in content marketing but it’s how you do that with other teams in other organizations. The organizations that we work with have some really great messages that will greatly benefit the society but if the message is not communicated properly, they will not be able to make a mark. A marketers job is to carry that message to the people which eventually will change the world.

 

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