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This Week in Content Marketing: Stop It! Content Marketing is NOT a Game of Traffic


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 discuss the recent exodus of top executives at Twitter and what it says about the social network’s likely fate. Next, we ponder the thinking behind IBM’s purchase of Ustream and the formation of a cloud business unit. Could this be part of a marketing technology play? We then analyze an opinion piece that unleashes a tidal wave of hate against brand marketing, and we explain why the author’s logic is flawed. Finally, we get excited about Gartner’s predictions about the future of intelligent marketing technology. Rants and raves include a video that does a spectacular job of revealing the immense power wielded by the “Gang of Four” (Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple). We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example of the week from WTWH Media.

This week’s show

(Recorded live January 25, 2016; Length: 56:12)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • The revolving door of Twitter executives (5:43): Five of Twitter’s top execs are leaving the company. Twitter’s SVP of Product Kevin Weil, Vice President of Global Media Katie Jacobs Stanton, Senior Vice President of Engineering Alex Roetter, Vice President of Human Resources Brian Schipper, and Vine General Manager Jason Toff are all leaving the company, according to Business Insider. I walk through four possible scenarios for the future of Twitter. In Robert’s opinion, these executive departures can only mean one thing.
  • IBM acquires Ustream (12:18): IBM has acquired video conferencing service Ustream. With several other cloud video acquisitions in tow, the company also announced it is forming a new cloud video services unit. I believe IBM is strengthening its suite of marketing technology products; it already owns SilverPop for marketing automation. Robert and I predict it will make several more acquisitions in 2016 (possibly to further strengthen its marketing tool set and to drive growth.
  • Why the “brands as publishers” trend is utter nonsense (19:13): Mark Higginson, writing on Econsultancy, calls brand publishing a fad. He claims that the majority of content published to major brand websites costs much more to produce and share than the modest amount of traffic it receives. In his mind, content marketing is all about collecting eyeballs, links, and shares; he refuses to acknowledge that any organizations have been successful with it. Robert and I agree that content marketing is about driving business growth, not a myopic focus on viral content, as Higginson suggests. To counter Higginson’s argument, Robert lists big brands that have achieved significant business value from their content marketing initiatives.
  • Gartner identifies the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2016 (32:32): In less than three years, advances in marketing technology will move beyond human intervention to streamlining and scaling activities that currently require manual interactions with audiences, Gartner predicts. Intelligent technologies will investigate, evaluate, and make decisions on behalf of both marketers and customers. Robert and I love these predictions, but believe it will be several years before most marketers are ready to use such autonomous tools.

2. Sponsor (39:47)

  • Demandbase: Today’s B2B marketers face a wealth of challenges. Even with marketing technologies to help them reach prospects and track results, most marketers end up focusing on tactics for execution and not the strategies those tools support. Fortunately, there’s a better path forward; it’s called account-based marketing (ABM). In this new e-book from Demandbase, you’ll learn actionable insights on how account-based marketing can pull together disparate resources into something that makes everyone in your company say “Wow!” To learn more about ABM, visit


3. Rants and raves (41:50)

  • Robert’s rave: Robert loves this video from the DLD Conference, where Scott Galloway, a professor of Marketing and Brand Strategy at the NYU Stern School of Business, discusses “The Gang of Four” (Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon) and their incredible size and power in global commerce. The numbers he shares are astounding. Galloway also predicts the demise of huge ad conglomerates in the near future, and he cites the growth of niche consumer products that are being promoted in non-traditional ways as an alternative.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (49:09)

  • WTWH Media: In 2006, Scott McCafferty and Mike Emich founded WTWH Media, a publisher of technical websites and print trade magazines, with a focus on design engineering. As part of his efforts to grow the company, Scott approached social acquaintance David Murdock, the chairman and CEO of Dole Food Company, to learn his method of buying and selling companies. It was surprisingly simple: Murdock would make a list of the industries in which he wanted to focus, and the firms within them that he was interested in acquiring. He then contacted the CEO of each company to assess their interest in selling to Dole. Scott has used this method to close five deals in the last eight years for WTWH. His criteria? Look for web sites that are community-based, with an active user group, and which are owned and operated by a sole proprietor who views the business as a hobby. I have used this same approach at CMI to make three acquisitions. The lesson for listeners: You don’t need to be a large company to acquire complementary businesses – any size firm can do it. This is an excellent example of #ThisOldMarketing.


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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