By Joe Pulizzi published September 20, 2017

Content Marketing Trends to Watch for 2018


About 12 months ago, I covered some content marketing trends to watch for 2017. I recently reread that post and most of the trends are very much in play for 2018 and beyond. Most enterprises are still working through creation of a true, living content marketing strategy for their organizations. Native advertising is still the gateway drug for many content marketing programs, and mobile is, well, it continues to be the flavor of every month as consumer use grows.

But some truly interesting events have occurred over the past few months that, I believe, begin to speak to the evolution of the content marketing practice itself.

Big bets on original content

Reports surfaced recently that Apple, the most valuable company in the world based on stock market capitalization, is planning to invest over $1 billion on original content. (Robert and I discussed this at length in the This Old Marketing podcast Episode 197.) Although there is talk about this move positioning Apple to take on Netflix, we believe this move is more significant than Apple just getting into the television show or streaming video business. Apple needs to stay relevant and consistent; valuable programming can grow its audiences and keep their attention (just like for any other company).

We also know that Google is purchasing original content from both brands and media companies (we’ve learned this firsthand), specifically to fill content gaps found through their search algorithms. And, not to be outdone, Facebook is spending significant dollars on original video directly out of the marketing budget. And don’t leave out perhaps the biggest buyer of original content, Amazon.

What all this means we don’t know yet, but one thing is sure: Consistent, original, and addictive content is all the rage. In some ways, we are seeing the golden age of a new television … it just happens on any and every device imaginable.

Consistent, original, & addictive #content is all the rage, says @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

How does this affect you? First, if your main competitor isn’t betting big on original content, it will be soon. The window for building a trusted and loyal audience is happening right now. Second, those who build new and trusted content brands will have multiple options to monetize that content, either directly from customers or prospects or secondarily from syndication through the Apples and Googles of the world.

Build trusted content brands & gain multiple options to monetize that content, predicts @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

Onslaught of acquisitions

Some will create, while others will buy. After we have brought this to your attention for years, the acquisition of content brands is now a major trend.

The acquisition of #content brands is now a major trend, says @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

Arrow Electronics, the Amazon of electronics components, purchased 51 (yes, that’s right) media properties from UBM and Hearst, and has created the largest media company in the B2B electronics industry. It now reaches 76% of electronic engineers and has a separate division running the for-profit unit.

In early August, Netflix made its first major media acquisition, buying comic book publisher Millarworld. This is yet another signal that Netflix is moving away from licensing other people’s content to create its own intellectual property.

The build-it or buy-it question is still in play, and from the current flow of money, it looks like both avenues are strong and growing in the content creation and distribution space.

Marketing as a profit center

Late last year, both Mondelez and Pepsi announced significant investments in the launch of internal content studios. Judging from the comments from the marketing leadership at both companies, a portion of these marketing arms will generate revenue and includes the possibility of for-profit ventures.

CMI believes that is the next iteration of content marketing – building multiple audience groups within the enterprise and monetizing those groups in dozens of ways.  Eventually, some innovative companies, like Arrow and Johnson & Johnson (with its, will generate enough revenue to outpace expenses. The marketing department will become a self-sustaining entity.

Innovative companies will generate enough revenue from content to outpace expenses, predicts @JoePulizzi. Click To Tweet

As Robert Rose and I discuss in our new book, Killing Marketing, even if the marketing profit center isn’t possible in your organization, the process of wrapping your arms around the costs and benefits of content creation is critical. All senior marketing executives are curious about the creation and flow of content, especially since nearly every company is creating more content this year than last.

Content marketing budgets worldwide

A recent study found that getting proficient at content marketing is the No. 1 goal for marketers in Asia Pacific. In addition, our own research found that most U.S. marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets similarly to those around the world. (Here’s an interesting study from the Nordics.)

Getting proficient at #contentmarketing is the #1 goal for marketers in Asia Pacific via @thenewbase study. Click To Tweet

This is both good and bad. I’ve been in this industry for almost 20 years, and it’s amazing to see marketing departments committed to the practice of content marketing with real marketing dollars.

That said, I’m also concerned by the campaign nature of these budgets.

Recently, I met with a group of senior marketers at a large consumer-technology company. They doubled their content creation and promotion budget from 2015 to 2017 (which is great), but most of the investment was in projects (which is not great). These projects were three- to six-month video series or time-based native advertising programs.

Sound familiar? It should. Most brands still treat their content marketing like advertising. For content marketing to truly work, it must be differentiated and consistently produced over a long time (like media companies do). I’m afraid that most of these content marketing investments will go without bearing any fruit … and that’s why we still have a long way to go in our content marketing journey.

Successful #contentmarketing must be differentiated & consistently produced over a long time. @JoePulizzi Click To Tweet

Turf war is on

Over the summer, we began working with a large health-care company. Its content marketing results have been outstanding as it’s grown a number of content brands and audiences while slowly pulling away from traditional advertising. It’s been so successful that it caught the attention of the CMO and the entire marketing organization has content fever.

The unexpected consequence is a turf war and a disjointed strategy. PR and communications have hired their own content team members separate from the company’s official content studio. Social media roles overlap, and everyone and no one is in charge of the content marketing strategy.

We’ve seen this happen (it’s one of the reasons why we wrote Killing Marketing). Marketing leaders need to step up and give ownership to someone to lead the content strategy, which ultimately must be a mandate coming from the chief marketing officer (or higher). Practitioners, in turn, need to get together with other department leaders as quickly as possible and make sure everyone is on the same page. This is a difficult challenge, as some marketing leaders may think a content land grab is necessary (so they can save their jobs).

Marketing leaders need to step up & give ownership to someone to lead the #content strategy. @JoePulizzi Click To Tweet

Overall, I see this as the most exciting time in marketing, where we can build audiences directly and make a major impact in the overall business model for the organization. That said, this move will come with pain points and challenges as we see the deconstruction and rebuild of the marketing department as we know it.

Get ready for a wild ride.

Want some advice on how to handle the roller coaster that is content marketing? Subscribe to the daily email (or weekly digest) from Content Marketing Institute. (Even better news? It’s a free ride.) 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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

  • Jim Burns

    Thanks Joe, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the implications and recommendations for mid-size companies, including divisions within mega companies, for which this feels like a huge step, bet, challenge, etc.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Jim…as you know, the hardest this to do is turn the big ship. Making business model changes within marketing is easier for mid-sized companies than larger enterprises, while smaller companies have it the easiest. More than anything else, this is a change management issue. To get started, I’m still in favor of the pilot program…set a long-term goal with a couple core team members and go after one particular audience of importance to the group. Once that pilot starts to gain traction, then you can expand that program and it starts to bleed into the rest of the organization.

      Hope you are well my friend. Been too long.

  • Vishwajeet Kumar

    Hello Joe,

    Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing these awesome tips on content marketing trends. Its full of information and I really enjoy the post.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Glad you enjoyed it.


    The biggest challenge for Trade Publishers is to monetize content and to either replace or revolutionize banner messaging which is the least effective MarComm publishers have to offer. The “cause” or necessity to monetize content is paramount to trade publisher surviving in 2018 and Beyond.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Exactly…but trade publishers should be looking into events and selling products directly ASAP.

  • Roger C. Parker

    Dear Joe: Thanks for your fine perspective on 2018 trends. There’s something there for everyone.

    To me, though, the key theme running through the post is the urgency you communicate so well in the sixth paragraph: “The window for building a trusted and loyal audience is happening right now.”

    I love to see you elaborate further on that point in a future post. Or, perhaps, a compilation of comments from a variety of CM contributors on the “urgency of the now” theme.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Roger…I’ll put that on the list. Thanks my friend.

  • Alex Kara

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing these awesome tips … 🙂

  • Miguel Machado

    Great insights. I think that the most surprising trend is content property acquisition, that makes all sense. Sounds crazy but, if brands start to focus on this, as demand grows, a question will come up: Do you know any Digital Property Real Estate Agent?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Not yet 😉

  • Marcos

    thanks for sharing, very good Article helped me a lot and I think it will help a lot of other people

  • Zuzanna Śliwińska

    I think it’s crazy how universal the trend of producing original content is (I understand Netflix, but Mondelez?). It may also be a huge threat for media companies, as brands won’t need that much advertising and media placement, since they’ll produce their own content, tv series, shows.. movies? Thank you for this article, super interesting point of view.

  • Udit Khanna

    No doubt content marketing is one of the prime factor for engaging the relevant audience. A quality content builds trust and online reputation among readers which brings long lasting results in less tie

  • Michael I

    Joe, thank you for another great article – we try to stay on top of what is gong on as much as possible and always enjoy reading your information. It will certainly be interesting to see what Apple & Google end up doing! We are in the press release service industry and have started to see a bigger shift of original video content. About 18 months ago, we also saw an increase in people using a press release as a part of their textual content marketing strategy. It will certainly be interesting to see where things go!

    Thank you!


  • Madeleine claire

    A very great and an informative post Mr.Joe ,mainly the way you pointed out about the acquisition of content brands and how huge companies are investing more in content strategy. Content marketing is more than just advertsing, its for long term value isn’t. i am eagerly waiting to see how its going to evlove in future.

  • Acton Balder

    You shared few important facts and figures about content marketing trends. I want to add few tools which are also very useful for content marketing:
    – Canva
    – Storify
    – PicPlayPost
    – Haiku Deck

  • andrew zubriczky

    I guess it’s a great time to be a dynamic and original content creator and producer. Power to the written word!

  • CreativeClick

    Hi Joe, thanks for the predictable content marketing trends for 2018. I also think the same as, the unique, dynamic & user friendly content creation is the key trends to follow in 2018.

  • Darshan Thakkar

    I was looking for the same and found this article. Very intersting and good stuff. Thanks for sharing with others.

  • Susan Monroe

    This is a great post, Joe. I plan to share your ideas, giving you full credit, of course, and including the URL in my next blog post.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks so much Susan.

      • Susan Monroe

        As a content creator (writer), I’m heartened by these trends and thank you for publicizing them.