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This Week in Content Marketing: 4 Content Marketing Trends for 2016 [100th Anniversary Show]


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

In this special 100th anniversary edition of #ThisOldMarketing, Robert and I celebrate and reflect on the past 100 episodes. For this show, we’ve changed up the format: Instead of the usual discussion of the top news headlines plus rants and raves, we focus on four major trends we expect to unfold in 2016: content quality versus quantity, the rise of the content brand, content marketing mergers and acquisitions, and the battle over content marketing terminology. Next, we share our predictions for the evolution of content marketing in 2016-17. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from the Content Marketing Institute.

This week’s show

(Recorded live October 9, 2015; Length: 1:10:04)

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To commemorate the 100th episode of the #ThisOldMarketing podcast, we take a closer look at four trends in content marketing that are hot right now. Some are current articles, while others have what Robert and I consider to be the best take on the subject. 

1. Less velocity, more quality (5:10)

  • Marcus Sheridan – Thinks the debate is a false choice: Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion doesn’t buy into this long-running debate. In his work with clients, he’s seen a direct correlation between increasing the quantity of high-quality content and excellent results.
  • Doug Kessler – Crap is the single biggest threat to B2B content marketing: More content, produced by an inexperienced pool of content creators who are stretched to the limit, can only lead to one conclusion — a tidal wave of crappy content that will cause audiences to raise their barriers, shutting out high-quality content along with the dreck. That will result in a diminishing rate of return from content marketing initiatives, Kessler predicts.
  • Robert Rose – 2015 state of the enterprise of content marketing: When Robert sees marketing departments struggle with adopting a content marketing approach, it’s usually because they’re applying the same old marketing structures, rules, processes, and tactics – layering in content “assets” to power it. That doesn’t work. Other organizations are enjoying some early successes with the practice of content marketing, but will be challenged in 2016 to produce top-notch quality content consistently, he predicts.
  • Our take – I believe quality has won this debate, but one challenge remains for content marketers: to publish quality content on a consistent schedule. I explain how smart marketers have solved this problem. Robert reiterates his core philosophy on the quantity vs. quality trade-off: Produce the minimum amount of content to produce the maximum results. We both agree that content marketing is still in its infancy in adopting quality over quantity, and we explain why.

2. Content marketing M&A on the rise (17:39)

  • Content moves to the middle: Content marketing has clearly taken center stage for brands, for entrepreneurs, and for investors. The industry is on track to generate $313 billion in revenue in 2019, according to PQ Media’s Global Content Marketing Forecast. On the path toward that number, venture capitalists have invested more than $1 billion in content marketing technology start-ups since 2006, CMO reports.
  • 2014 biggest acquisitions: This infographic from Kapost summarizes the six biggest acquisitions in the content marketing space in 2014. This was the start of the content marketing M&A (mergers and acquisitions) boom, which gained a significant amount of momentum in 2015.
  • How much investment money is in content marketing technology: How much investor money is actually being focused on the content marketing industry? And how much is the content marketing industry actually worth, according to marketing budgets? These numbers were nearly impossible to track down in one place, so NewsCred did a little math. The result is a well-researched analysis that is a must-read for content marketers.
  • Our take: Robert and I expect the momentum of mergers and acquisitions to continue to increase in 2016 and beyond. This is the obvious part of the trend. What interests us more is the growth of brands acquiring blogs and publishing companies – to accelerate their content initiatives and transform their approach to marketing. We discuss how even small companies can benefit from this approach.

3. The dawn of the content brand (30:56)

  • Benefits of the separate content site: While 76% of B2B companies are blogging, content brands such as Adobe (CMO) and Xerox (Real Business) have gone one step further and developed independent content sites, rich with free articles and resources, as part of their content marketing. This article from BrightInfo explores the pros and cons of the separate content website.
  • Interview with Andrew Davis on content brands: In this podcast interview with Nick Westergaard from Brand Driven Digital, the one and only Andrew Davis explains how content brands are trumping branded content.
  • LinkedIn article on the 10 most influential brands on LinkedIn: Last year, LinkedIn launched the Content Marketing Score and identified the top 10 most influential global brands on LinkedIn. Notable and new to the list this year are Domo and EY, both of which effectively leveraged the LinkedIn platform to establish themselves as true thought leaders in the digital world.
  • Our take: Nearly every brand that has launched a successful content marketing initiative has included a separate content brand website. But Robert points out that it’s not an either/or issue – it’s more of a continuum, where some content brands are masterfully integrated within the corporate brand, such as Adobe’s CMO, Red Bull, and Marriott – and others are completely separate and don’t display their parents’ brand. We discuss how content marketing can potentially transform brands, and the opportunities this can create.

4.  A focus on terms and getting them right (41:10)

  • Can we just please stop using the words branded content? Branded content gives content marketing a bad name. It’s a word created by the world of paid mediaby advertisers, agencies, and media planners. In this article from the CMI blog, I explain why I prefer the term content brand.
  • 10 content marketing buzzwords you’re going to hear way too much in 2015: Content marketing is about telling stories, building relationships, and growing your audience, but it’s also about using so many buzzwords that you wonder what kind of monster you’ve become, warns the Contently blog. It contains a list of 10 overused content marketing buzzwords.
  • Our take: This is a topic I feel very passionate about. In order for the practice of content marketing to grow, we need to clearly understand its terminology and agree upon what each word means. Robert says part of the problem is that the people who control media budgets (e.g., Madison Avenue) don’t understand content marketing as a business strategy.

5. Sponsor (49:01)

  • Number crunch: How a content marketing platform saves time and money: Time is work is money. How much time can a content marketing platform really save you? These hard numbers from our sponsor, Brandpoint, crunch out quite the story.


6. Content Marketing Predictions (50:57)

  • Joe’s predictions: Now is a huge opportunity to build a content brand. But I think companies will struggle to capitalize on it, and I explain why. I believe the online mega-channels (Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter) will continue to grow in power and influence, to the point where it will be hard for brands to command audience attention outside of their platforms.
  • Robert’s predictions: Robert believes that the Internet will disappear in 2016-17, becoming the background fabric of our lives, rather than something we connect with for discrete periods of time. That will drive the rise of the Internet of things – smart, connected devices. He explains why these developments will counteract the forces of the big technology players in 2016. He also outlines how marketing teams and technologies will evolve in 2016.

7. This Old Marketing example of the week (1:02:14)

  • Content Marketing Institute: What better way to celebrate PNR’s 100th episode than to explore why CMI is an excellent example of #ThisOldMarketing? In April, 2007, I wrote my first blog post, entitled “What is content marketing?” During the next three years, I blogged consistently on this topic and added an editorial team to strengthen the blog and advance the practice of content marketing. Today, the blog has over 150,000 subscribers. In 2010, we started to diversify, and over the next year added an event (Content Marketing World) and a printed magazine (CCO – Chief Content Officer). Other additions to the platform included research, which has grown to become the most-cited thing we do, plus this podcast, consulting services, online training, and more. From the beginning, we followed what is now called the Content Inc. formula: Focus on one core platform and build it into a strong product that builds loyalty and trust, and then diversify. According to Inc. Magazine, CMI is now the fastest-growing business media company in North America.


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

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