By Joe Pulizzi published March 14, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: Is Google+ Finally Dead? Well, Not Really

PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I ponder whether Google+ is really dead or if it will continue to live in some other form. Next, we discuss Google’s planned evolution of its search algorithm to focus more on facts and less on links, and why The New York Times is going Hollywood with native advertising. We also question a research study’s claim that PR is the new content marketing.  Rants and raves include why marketers can’t measure, and how to get your long-form articles to go viral. We wrap up the show with two #ThisOldMarketing examples from RCA Records and Kellogg’s.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on March 9, 2015; Length: 59:51)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Is Google+ finally dead? (6:19): Google has announced it will split Google+ into multiple pieces, The Independent reports. Photos and Streams will be the new home of images and status updates, respectively. Meanwhile, the future of its popular Hangouts and the Google+ brand continue to be uncertain. Wired digs deeper into the thinking behind the split, in light of the evolution of the social media network. Robert and I both agree that this move is another example of the danger of building your audience on someone else’s channel. We also wonder why Google continues to do such a flat-footed job of announcing changes to its services.
  • Google wants to rank sites based on facts, not links (16:10): Google’s search engine currently uses a number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, which is used as one measure of where it should appear in search results. A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web, according to NewScientist. This new algorithm, which is not live yet, counts the number of correct and incorrect facts within a web page to determine its trustworthiness. Robert and I agree this is a fascinating development, but it could also represent a slippery slope for Google.
  • NYT wants aspiring directors to create native ads (22:45): T Brand Studio, the native advertising team within The New York Times, has launched a program called The Selectsaccording to Advertising Age. It asks directors who aren’t already represented by a production company or agency to submit their work for a chance to make native ads for marketers. Directors will submit short films and T Brand Studio will select the best five to work with its brand clients. This initiative doesn’t feel right to me for some reason; Robert thinks it’s a brilliant idea.
  • The future of PR is content marketing (28:52): BuzzStream and Fractl recently published the results of a study that reveals huge increases in the popularity of content marketing and inbound marketing, while public relations and related terms have steadily declined. BuzzStream and Fractl analyzed 20 search terms during the last seven years to compile this data. Robert and I agree that just because people are searching on a term doesn’t mean it’s growing or declining as a practice.

2. Sponsor (38:13)

  • This Old Marketing is sponsored by DigitalRelevance, which increases search visibility, web traffic, and conversions by executing research-driven content marketing, digital PR, and SEO strategies. DigitalRelevance is offering The Media Buyer’s Guide to Sponsored Editorial Content. It includes everything you need to know about sponsored content, from evolution, controversy, and regulation to execution tools and a proven buying strategy. It also includes the world’s first research study and statistical analysis to determine fair market value prices for sponsored content. Learn more at


3. Rants and raves (41:08)

  • Robert’s rant: Articles in Advertising Age and MarketingCharts cover a new study done by Duke University, the American Marketing Association, and McKinsey & Co. But these articles come to opposite conclusions about CMO investment in marketing analytics. What this says to Robert is that marketers are still very confused about measurement, and probably always will be. I agree; it will continue to be a huge challenge for marketers, perhaps an insurmountable one.
  • Robert’s rave: Robert loves the new content initiative for the movie Unfinished Business, in which actor Vince Vaughn and his co-stars appear in a series of stock images, which are available free for use from Getty. This is one of those ideas that left Robert asking, “Why hasn’t anyone else done this before?” He thinks it’s brilliant!
  • Joe’s rave: I love this Fast Company article that outlines how to write smart, long articles that go absolutely viral. I share the author’s No. 1 strategy for writing this type of content. It’s something that’s deceptively simple and can make a world of difference in the effectiveness of your content. I also share what a “search for the truth” has to do with crafting viral content.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (53:15)

  • RCA and Kellogg’s: The 1950s were the golden era of the record industry. Elvis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and other remarkable performers graced the airwaves. Competition between record companies was cutthroat. In this environment, RCA Victor partnered with Kellogg’s, P&G, and Heinz to try something completely different. They included coupons with their products that enabled consumers to get free or low-cost music samplers. One promotion for Crest toothpaste involved 5 million packages that contained coupons for a 25-cent sampler of new songs. After it pulled an amazing 10% response rate, other manufacturers quickly jumped onboard, eager to capitalize on this exciting new opportunity. During the next decade, promotional tie-ins became a huge business. Today’s version of this is the large number of tie-ins between new movie releases and fast-food retailers. The lesson? If you think like a media company about your content strategy, you can uncover opportunities to let advertisers subsidize the creation, distribution, and sales of your products.


For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

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Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Nitin Mohan

    Google plus helps actually when i share my published article’s link on g+, google shows that g+ post up in the results coz g+ is owned by google and google prefers his products on others so we can get visitors that post Google PR is dead but SEO is not dead

  • Nicole Healing

    I totally agree with you about the secrecy/not telling of the story, however I think the G+ changes are the most exciting thing to happen to the platform (i.e. the only exciting thing). It seems G+ is finally getting around to realising it doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel but focussing on what the company is actually good at and use the tools at its disposal. Hangouts are where I think the money’s at and I’ll be interested to see how that develops. I discuss it more in this blog.

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  • Stephen Willlis

    Very fascinating article. I’m definitely not a G+ fan but their direction is quite intriguing.

  • Katherine Kotaw

    Hi Robert and Joe!

    It’s such a JOY listening to such a smart, funny and informative podcast. You are both so intelligent, witty and articulate, which is such a STANDOUT among so many of the podcasts out there (but you have to already know that!)

    I loved the quote from Robert that “Google is not telling their story”. What a perfect way to put it. There is this “breaking news” that Google Plus is dead, then the articles you mentioned that are vague at best as to what the new Google Plus plan (or lack thereof) is, and then it just seems like there was never any news to begin with and everything is business as usual on Google Plus because, as Robert said, there was no actual story!

    And having no story doesn’t really create the mystique that Google may or may not have intended. It just kind of leads to apathy and (another great quote of Robert’s) “letting the story write them,” which as you say, is just bad marketing.

    In the digital marketing age, the public wants to know what’s going on — and we want immediate answers. Google may get away with not providing the answers right away because they’re Google, but any other corporation that doesn’t have immediate answers to customer questions (i.e.: Why is my dog food brand being pulled off the shelves? What is the danger?”) is simply not going to survive in an age where customers instantly tweet and post that their dog got sick from the food before a memo has even been circulated around the entire corporation, before the company even knows what the problem is.

    The public wants answers as quickly as it takes to send a tweet — and we want the story. If a company is not providing us with quick answers and a story, we switch to a company that will. (Again, Google can get away with more of their “mystique” than other companies could, but a lot of big-name corporations are going under because they simply weren’t able to tell their story and adapt to the “instant” needs customers in the digital age now have… And smaller companies who are telling their story and telling it well — AND being instantly responsive to customer needs on social platforms, are taking the business from the big-name companies who haven’t adapted.)

    I love, love, LOVED the Justin Bieber/The Beatles reference — more people are searching online for Bieber right now, but does that mean he has greater musical talent, does that make him more relevant?

    And yes, if only everyone could realize that it’s the “best content, not the MOST content” that matters. People churn out awful content every day in the name of content marketing, people share this awful content every day in the name of content curation, and most people never read the garbage before sharing because it’s too awful to get through. Yet the cycle continues.

    I LOVE Joe’s analogy of content marketing as a product!!! So many people think they can just develop a great product or idea and suddenly they should be millionaires (these are the clients I no longer take on, because they just don’t “get” the process!)

    Everyone should definitely quote Joe’s “treat content marketing like a product” analogy because it epitomizes what content marketing is. Like Joe said so eloquently, you don’t just create a product and then expect people and money to come to you. You have to come up with who your audience is, come up with how to distribute it, and then how to market it. I was smiling from ear-to-ear as I listened to Joe say that if you develop a product, you invest in it for the long-haul. Yet people want instant results with content marketing. Often instant does happen (in three days of taking on a new client my KOTAW Girl Gang got this client listed as the “top” company in a prestigious publication simply by having a conversation over Twitter… and this kind of thing happens all the time) but anything good in life requires you to be all-in for the long-haul, and the same is true for content marketing.

    I have one more rave of my own — Joe saying what a turn off it is when anyone writes like they’re an “expert”. His advice for a much better way to get your content shared is fantastic: “Write like someone passionate about searching for the truth.”

    #KOTAWesome! and GO ORANGE!!

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Best Comment Ever! Thanks so much for the thoughtful and wonderful reply Katherine!