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This Week in Content Marketing: Get Ready for Brands to Take Over Facebook Instant Articles


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

In this episode of This Old Marketing, Robert and I talk about the implications of Facebook opening Instant Articles to brands, starting with Intel. We see an underlying problem that could affect its acceptance by brands. We also take a closer look at Facebook’s new Creative Hub. Next, we ponder the future of sponsored podcasts and wonder why the ad industry complains a lot, but doesn’t seem to work on solving its problems. Finally, we interpret the results of yet another “state of content marketing” survey; this one’s just a little too upbeat to be believable. Rants and raves include Snapchat’s new magazine and a controversy in media buying. This week’s This Old Marketing example: Investools.

This week’s show

(Recorded live June 19, 2016; Length: 1:05:02)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Facebook extends Instant Articles – starting with Intel (7:02): Facebook, which created Instant Articles a year ago to make publishers’ articles load faster, is now giving that tool to brands. Intel is the first to take advantage, posting content from its digital tech-focused publication, iQ, as Instant Articles starting last week. We predict many more brands will follow suit. Robert believes publishers and brands will become disenchanted with the mediocre performance of Instant Articles. This, in turn, will lead Facebook to subsidize some brands to keep them using it. This article is paired with the next one from Ad Age.
  • Facebook launches Creative Hub to simplify creation of ads (8:00): To help marketers keep ads coming, not to mention make the shift to mobile advertising, the company has introduced the Creative Hub, an online platform for agencies, brands, and anyone involved in the creation of ads, Ad Age reports. It enables them to share, review, test, and create ads on Facebook and Instagram. I think this is a small step in the right direction, but Facebook needs to do much more to help brands and publishers use Instant Articles effectively.
  • Podcast companies experiment with sponsored content (17:00): Podcast publishers have long supported sponsors, who are mentioned during the course of the show. But custom podcasts that consist entirely of sponsored content offer greater revenue from large brands. Gimlet Media, a successful podcast publisher, is experimenting with this new format in a six-episode podcast about entrepreneurship, sponsored by eBay. Robert and I agree that this is the next step in the evolution of podcasting. I’m disappointed that eBay’s commitment is only for six episodes, which is hardly enough to build an audience for it.
  • 73% of ad buyers cite user experience as major industry challenge (25:49): The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Kargo and Refinery29 surveyed 283 marketers and media agency executives last month and found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of them believe that user experience needs improvement in digital marketing. In other words, they believe that digital ads must employ strong creative concepts or risk driving consumers to use ad blockers. Robert and I agree that the problem is not the poor quality of ad creative. Stop complaining and fix the real problems (ads, ads everywhere).
73% of marketers & agency execs believe user experience needs improvement in digital marketing via @iab Click To Tweet
  • These 5 charts show the state of content marketing today (30:32): To better understand the content marketing landscape, Ascend2 recently surveyed 219 marketing influencers about what they are doing to achieve content marketing success. Among its findings: Engagement is the top measure of content success, the lack of an effective strategy is marketers’ biggest barrier to success, and 89% of respondents believe their effectiveness at content marketing is improving or improving significantly. Robert and I agree that this last number is way too positive. You can’t become significantly more effective at something if you don’t have a strategy for it.

2. Sponsor (37:52)

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3. Rants and raves (40:04)

  • Joe’s rave: Snapchat is becoming a publisher with the launch of Real Life, a new online magazine. It will publish essays, arguments, and narratives about living with technology. I like the idea of launching a magazine to build deeper relationships with Snapchat’s users. But it’s falling into the same trap as many brands — building excitement for a new publication, but not having anything to show. My advice? Start publishing and then fire up the PR machine, so you have something compelling to show to interested people.
  • Robert’s rant: An investigation by the Association of National Advertisers has found that rebates, including “cash rebates” and “other non-transparent practices,” are pervasive in the U.S. media-buying ecosystem. This has resulted in a lot of finger pointing among agencies, media companies, and the marketers they’re trying to serve. Robert’s take is that everyone needs to stop complaining and focus instead on brainstorming innovative solutions to the disruptions they collectively face.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (55:58)

  • Investools from TD Ameritrade: In 2009, TD Ameritrade purchased the trading platform Think or Swim for $606 million. ThinkMoney magazine, which was previously profiled in This Old Marketing, was part of Think or Swim and was included in the transaction. Prior to the acquisition, one of the other services it provided to traders is a website called Investools, which is filled with educational resources covering all aspects of trading. Once Investools became part of TD Ameritrade, the company made it a key part of its go-to-market strategy. It discovered that better-educated people trade more often, which means greater revenue. When you visit Investools, it looks like a complete online university: It offers a daily podcast on the state of the market, webinars, and 10 tracks of education covering everything from futures trading to options trading. Investools also offers an investor education conference, which is free to its best customers. The bottom line is that TD Ameritrade paid a premium to acquire Think or Swim because of the exceptional value of its educational resources, which create a better user experience. This is an excellent example of This Old Marketing.


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

Cover image provided by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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