By Joe Pulizzi published December 14, 2015

What Content Marketing Will Look Like in 2016: 40+ Predictions


It’s hard to believe that this marks the eighth year of our annual content marketing predictions. In some ways, we’ve come a long way; yet in others, we’ve barely moved. Regardless, it’s still clear that the content marketing space is the most dynamic and exciting sector in the marketing industry.

In this e-book, 40+ Predictions on Content Marketing in 2016, you’ll see predictions related to data-driven marketing, a huge push toward creative, a call for all things visual, and a rather optimistic view on content marketing going mainstream.

While I am ever the optimist, my personal content marketing predictions for 2016 are a bit of a mixed bag (and are sure to be wrong). Either way, here’s a glimpse for your reading pleasure:

  1. While we will see shining examples of content marketing magic in action, the sheer majority of brands will continue to crash and burn with their content creation and distribution efforts. Simply put, most brands resist telling a truly differentiated story; and even those that do aren’t consistent or patient enough to build loyal audiences over time.
  1. While some media companies (like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times) will find their footing with sponsored content/native advertising, a few other enterprise media brands will be decimated by their lack of control over native advertising, which will kill their credibility – a deficit from which they will never fully recover.
  1. This will finally be the year when large brands consider purchasing media platforms and begin to set up the infrastructure to make these purchases possible. Media acquisitions by brands will start in the B2B arena, where large manufacturers like GE will purchase niche content sites with loyal audiences (buy vs. build). This momentum will continue in 2017 when Apple will buy Disney, at last bringing together Steve Jobs’ two greatest creations (Apple and Pixar).

A special thanks to our friends at Marketing.AI, who made the 2016 predictions collection possible.

We’ve compiled over 40 predictions from thought leaders who share their views on brand strategy, organizational structure, emerging technology and platforms, and other big developments that may be on the horizon for content marketing. Here are a few highlights:

2016 will be the year when the worlds of product-as-content and content-as-product collide. The hottest, most positive trend will be enterprises reorganizing their brand, product, marketing, sales, and customer service teams around innovation and customer experience. – Robert Rose, chief strategy officer, Content Marketing Institute

The focus will be shifting from simply creating ‘more’ content to serving the ‘right’ content; especially personalized content. We have the ability to beand users now expect personalized and hyper-relevant content delivered instantly to them wherever they are engaging — social, email, or any channel, for that matter. There is increased pressure to constantly deliver that seamless, engaging experience, and more brands will be stepping up to deliver exactly that. – Amanda Todorovich, content marketing director, Cleveland Clinic

All signs point to video. Whether it’s Facebook Live, video on Twitter, Periscope, Blab, Instagram, Vine, or the old standby YouTube, 2016 will be the year when video becomes a primary content marketing consideration for all brandseven B2B. – Jay Baer, president, Convince & Convert

I predict the emergence of ‘TweetRank.’ As sign-up growth slows, Twitter will boost its stock price by making ads more prominent. That means making some tweets less prominent. To decide which tweets get which treatment, there will be an algorithm. – Andy Crestodina, strategic director, Orbit Media Studios

Do you have a prediction on content marketing in 2016? Why don’t you share it with us in the comments section?

Curious about past predictions? Check out our forecasts for  2009, 20102011, 2012, 20132014, and 2015.                                                                                                                                        

Subscribe to the CMI blog to see how well these predictions fare in the new year or to stay ahead of the curve with your content marketing.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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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  • leenjones

    Thought-provoking collection of insights. The diversity of topics in the predictions shows how far content marketing has come in such a short time. 2016 promises to be an exciting year.

  • John Licata

    Thanks for the article. Here are 7 ways we believe content marketing can be more effective in 2016

  • Pradeep

    Definitely it’s going to be the best year than ever when content marketing will become a mainstream marketing method along with traditional advertising and PR and it’s more effective as it uses ‘customer experience’ as a framework and base. CMI does it again giving the world the thought and action provoking insights! 2016 will be the year when mobile marketing will suddenly get high maturity level and video marketing will get never-seen attention.

  • Scott @

    Hopefully this year we’ll finally put to bed the fallacy that content marketing can be done on the cheap. What I mean by this is that people need to realise that by buying a load of rubbish articles/infographics etc from sites like Fiverr and firing them out over social media isn’t content marketing, it’s a waste of time. You can see the rubbish that you get from sites offering cheap content writing here: . People use sites like Fiverr for their content marketing and then moan that ‘content marketing doesn’t work’. Hopefully we’ll see less of this in 2016!

  • Pat Navin

    From our perspective in B2B marketing, what is typically lacking is strategy. Throwing buckets of content at the wall and seeing what sticks is not “marketing.” It’s filler. The clicks (or lack thereof) prove that.

    Companies need to understand the issues prospects and current customers are having and build their content strategies around those issues to ensure engagement and relevancy.

  • Barry Feldman

    The generation that doesn’t read. Hmm. I have a problem with that.

    • Mana

      It’s sad isn’t it, Barry? The most they read is scribbles on a snap, and emojis. There’s a segment on This American Life that talks about how teenagers comment on Instagram pics and why. Very interesting and scary at the same time. But we can’t change it. We, the marketers, have to figure out how to change our approach to speak the language of this new generation of consumers.

      • Barry Feldman

        It’s neither sad, nor true. The Feldman household has two teenagers who are very into Snapchat. If I were a brand trying to get on their “cool” radar, I’d consider Snapchat. This doesn’t mean they don’t read. They read plenty.

        • Mana

          In a 2014 study from Common Sense Media 45% of 17-year olds admitted to only reading by choice, for pleasure, once or twice a year. I’m glad to hear your kids are reading, and lots of kids are still reading, but online (which is the medium we’re talking about), they prefer interacting with fast visuals rather than via text. It’s a different way of telling stories and it’s important we pay attention to it, because it’s growing. And it’s not just teenagers we’re talking about – the Snapchat generation extends into early-30s.

          • Joe Pulizzi

            I’ve seen stats both ways, but from what I see with all the kids around my sons, this generation reads more than we did…they just play less outside.

  • rogercparker

    Amazing range of perspectives–definitely worth a second and a third look.

  • friv4k

    Great work! Thanks for sharing this out.

  • roblevin

    Solid predictions. Here is mine: B2B marketers will spend more time and resources on producing content that accelerates the buyer’s journey. We are already seeing it and discussing it with our clients.

  • Jessica Mehring

    I am so excited about the future of content marketing! I see more brands giving up their mediocre mass-produced content in favor of less frequent, more thought-out, higher-quality content — and I think this is a smart move toward overcoming the content fatigue that is so rampant today. Especially if brands pay attention to the buyer’s journey as they’re producing these great assets, we’re going to see content give way to experience.

  • Ryan Satre

    I think we will start to see B2B brands target specified and qualified customers from their CRM out, via Data Management Platform and look alike modeling. This “Content Cold Calling” will emerge as a lead quality and ROI tactic, and supplement the traditional ad-to-content-to-first party data-to-lead content marketing track.

  • Pavlos Rizos

    Video will hit a peak on 2016 but as with all things, it will stabilize in 2017. High quality images and infographics will always be one of the best options for content marketing

  • Aishwarya Upadhyay

    Very interesting predictions, Joe! I agree that content marketing is the future of marketing and 2016 will be a breakthrough year for content marketing. The future of content marketing lies in visual content like infographics, images , videos and other engaging content that captivates a viewer.
    Please do check out this blog on SalesPanda – Five Ways to Enrich Content Marketing with Visuals:

  • Jacob Varghese

    Great list. Here’s one more. Short-content which is visual, brief and quick to create and create quick wins in engagement will become increasingly important. This will include video, images. Of course this will see good marketers getting very creative with different platforms and modalities.

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