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This Week in Content Marketing: Agencies, Brands and Media Starting to Look the Same


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

In this week’s episode of This Old Marketing, Robert and I illustrate how the lines between publishers, brands, and agencies are blurring with two examples: Thrillist plans to launch a new spirits website that is sponsored by a liquor company, and agency giant WPP has invested in a male-oriented publishing brand. Next, we interpret Facebook’s explanation of its new algorithm, which favors users over advertisers: If you want to reach your audience on Facebook, you must pay to do it. Rants and raves include an example of what happens when agencies refuse to disrupt themselves and CMI’s updated history of content marketing — which now includes examples as old as 1732! We wrap up the show with a This Old Marketing example from Tower Records and Pulse! magazine.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on July 3, 2016; Length: 56:46)

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Today’s episode sponsor

  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is offering a free 14-day trial, plus a special 30% discount of their marketing tool set for PNR podcast listeners only. The discount will only be active until September 1, 2016. Go here for more:


1. Content marketing in the news

  • Thrillist’s content marketing division is launching a booze-focused website (8:14): CoLab, the content division of Thrillist Media Group, has announced it’s launching Supercall, a full-fledged digital publication focused on spirits; it’s sponsored by the liquor company Diageo. Robert and I agree Thrillist is smart for setting this up as a self-contained editorial entity and profit center, not just a website where the sponsor provides all of the content. The downside for Diageo: They won’t have much to show at the end of their three-year commitment to this agreement. We explore a business model that would elegantly solve this problem. This article is paired with the next one.
  • Male-oriented web publisher Woven Digital raises 18.5 million (15:36): Woven Digital, which owns a stable of young male-focused websites like BroBible and Uproxx, has raised $18.5 million in series B funding to invest in more video production and more content verticals. The lead investor is WPP, one of the world’s largest ad agencies. Robert believes we’ll start to see more deals like this, because many large companies are sitting on capital that could be used to invest in media companies or acquire them outright. We close by discussing the biggest challenge in this brave new model of marketing (hint: it’s a mindset issue).
  • What Facebook wants you to know about their changing algorithm (27:57): Facebook is changing its News Feed to prioritize posts from users’ friends, possibly at the expense of publishers that rely on referral traffic from the site, CNN reports. This week, the company published its “News Feed Values,” a new document that outlines its approach to its ranking algorithm. I point out that there’s only one group of people who will benefit from organic reach on Facebook — the people it’s paying to produce content. If you represent a brand, you must pay to reach your audience. Organic reach for brands is history.

2. Sponsor (33:54)

  • Episerver: As a digital marketer, you face both external and internal challenges — from declining organic reach on social to software issues that sap your team’s productivity. At the same time, you’re tasked with managing content that increases lead count, boosts sales, or raises customer loyalty. Four Steps to Simplify the Digital Experience, a new guide from Episerver, covers the four fundamental steps of the digital customer experience and gives hands-on advice on how to work more effectively using Episerver’s CMS and Digital Marketing platform. Each step is accompanied by concrete examples that show you how Episerver helps you simplify the digital experience for your customers. You can download it here:


3. Rants and raves (36:29)

  • Robert’s rant: This week, Robert highlights an article from The Wall Street Journal that describes how online publisher Vice is starting to create content, programs, and media buys just like a Madison Avenue ad agency. The lines between publishers and agencies are blurring and the latter are starting to feel threatened. But the problem is not publishers invading agencies’ territory. It’s that agencies are failing to disrupt themselves. Robert outlines what agencies need to do now to innovate.
  • Joe’s rave: We recently updated CMI’s History of Content Marketing infographic with examples that go all the way back to 1732, with the debut of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack. This infographic is an excellent way to visualize what content marketing is. Despite what many C-level executives may think, content marketing isn’t new or experimental. It has been used to build profitable customer relationships for several centuries.


4. This Old Marketing example of the week (48:54)

  • Tower Records: Tower Records was a chain of record shops that began operation in 1960, expanded rapidly in the 1990s, and went bankrupt in 2006. In the early 1980s, Tower launched a magazine named Pulse! It contained record reviews, interviews, concert schedules, and advertising and was given away free in Tower stores to promote record sales. It also contained CD samplers of upcoming releases. You could buy it on the newsstand for $3 an issue, or subscribe to receive it by mail. At the height of its popularity in 1992, Pulse! had over 280,000 subscriptions. It was discontinued in 2002, when the company ceased U.S. operations. In total, Tower produced 222 issues of this popular music magazine. Pulse! is an outstanding example of This Old Marketing.


Image source

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

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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