By Joe Pulizzi published February 11, 2011

RIP: Custom Publishing

Year 2000: I started working in the custom publishing business doing account management work – producing custom magazines and newsletters (mostly print) for B2B brands.

Year 2001: First used the term “content marketing” while I was Penton Media (the largest independent trade media company in North America).  Didn’t catch on at all.

Year 2004: 776 – Number of search returns for “content marketing” in Google. “Custom publishing” nets 64,100 during the same period.

Year 2007: Left Penton and launched Junta42. Focused on repositioning custom publishing as content marketing. First blog post entitled Why Content Marketing? (no one read it).

End-of-year “custom publishing” results on Google equal 219,000.  “Content marketing” beginning to catch up at 92,000.

Year 2010: Content Marketing Institute is launched. Content marketing as a discipline goes mainstream.  Google returns (with no quotes) top 280 million for content marketing, almost 30 times the number returned for custom publishing.

According to Google Insights, the week of December 26, 2010 to January 1, 2011 is the first week in history that “content marketing” scored higher in Worldwide search interest (all categories) than “custom publishing” (see below).

Content Marketing vs Custom Publishing - 3 Year Trend

Content Marketing vs Custom Publishing – 3 Year Trend

Year 2011: RIP: Custom Publishing

In going further into Google Insights, looking at only the business category, we find…wait for it…a shocking discovery.

Content Marketing Vs. Custom Publishing - 3 Year Trend (Business Category Only)

Content Marketing Vs. Custom Publishing – 3 Year Trend (Business Category Only)

By the end of January 2011, content marketing scores a 100, while custom publishing scores a zero, nada, null…

Cremation or embalming?

And, digging a bit deeper, we find that the percentage growth in content marketing versus the baseline business category is 223%. Custom publishing came in at minus 100 (probably not enough data).  Our friends in the content strategy world came in at a healthy 212%.

Content Marketing vs Custom Publishing vs Content Strategy

Content Marketing vs Custom Publishing vs Content Strategy

Now if only content marketing was a stock.

RIP custom publishing…you served us well.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • Ron Bel Bruno

    Makes great sense. “Custom publishing” is a limiting and relative term. When content was, for the most part, something something attached to a glued or stapled spine of a publication, subject to the discretion of a single set of editors, and co-existing with many brands, marketers needed to “customize” in reaction to that publishing “standard.” Now the template has been removed and content lives most everywhere. “Content Marketing” makes infinitely better sense.

  • Keith Wiegold

    “What’s in a name” — Bill S.

    Great piece, Joe. Your term, Content Marketing, is all-encompassing and adaptable for growth as newer channels evolve for content.

    But fear not, custom publishers — you’ve been in the Content Marketing discipline longer than the moniker, and most custom publishers worth their salt have embraced and established credentials in the digital space.

    Still, we ‘publish’ content to the web, and create ‘custom’ messaging for our clients/companies.

    Custom Publishing is dead. Long live custom publishing….er, Content Marketing!

  • Rick Liebling

    Kudos to you Joe, on several levels. First, it would have been very easy back in 2007 to say, “Well, guess I was wrong” and join the Custom Publishing status quo. You stuck to your guns and it has paid off, because… #2) You were spot on! Content Marketing won not just because it is strategically correct, but the term, as Keith points out, works beautifully. Oftentimes a great product is not enough, it has to be properly packaged. You’ve done that Joe.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Rick…it was a team effort by all of us (you included)…we were just highly determined!

  • John Rizzo

    Joe love your posts and vision as always. I’ve been helping clients with custom publishing for years and have found that without a very content driven search marketing to complement their custom publishing efforts it is a real uphill battle to gather a strong ROI.

    I know social media is always quickly associated with content marketing but have always wondered how you see SEO, keyword research, etc playing into the content marketing mix.