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This Week in Content Marketing: Google, Facebook to Purchase Content in 2017


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

This week, Robert and I recap the biggest content marketing stories from the past year and predict some trends we expect to see in 2017, including new content purchases Facebook and Google may be looking to make; brands betting big on buying media companies; and greater business model diversity from publishers and marketers alike. Our rants and raves feature the late, great George Michael and a new book from Michael Lewis; then we wrap up our final episode of 2016 by highlighting “house organs” in our Example of the Week.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on December 26, 2016; Length: 0:55:34)

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1.    Notable news and upcoming trends

As the holiday week slowed news to a crawl, Robert and I thought we would recap some of the biggest stories and significant trends that impacted content marketing over the past year. We also shared some thoughts on what may be in store for our industry in 2017. Our discussion included:

  • Facebook’s total domination of the digital marketing conversation (08:00): Facebook represented the lion’s share of advertising revenue growth over the past year and continued its metamorphosis from social network to full-fledged media company, as recent articles in Forbes and Recode describe in detail. However, Robert believes that the pendulum will soon start to swing in the other direction, and he predicts a backlash as marketers increasingly recognize the dangers of relying on a third-party platform when it comes to building trusted, ongoing relationships with a target audience. My advice here is to expect companies like Facebook and Google to continue to manipulate the system to sustain their growth, but keep your eyes open for the content gaps their efforts will inevitably leave – which knowledgeable subject matter experts may be in a strong position to fill.
  • The rise of the publisher content studios (23:41): Another big story we explored throughout the year is the growing number of media outlets that are building their own content studios as a means of competing with the creative agencies for brands’ content budgets. I view this as an essential diversification of what publishing means in today’s marketplace. Robert sees this as a trend that is poised to really explode in 2017, as it represents an exciting new business model for publishers who have been struggling to overcome deep deficits in online ad revenue.
  • The need to redefine the marketing department and its purpose (27:05): The above story led right into another point Robert and I kept coming back to: the need for marketers to think in broader terms about the value of content throughout the enterprise. Rather than limiting ourselves to viewing content as little more than a demand driver or an advertising alternative, we urge practitioners to expand their horizons and explore its potential to further mid- and lower-funnel goals, like increasing conversions and loyalty.
  • More brands will be vertically integrating media (28:05): One of the biggest stories that wasn’t being talked about (except by us) was the major media acquisitions that were made by electronics manufacturer Arrow Electronics, including its purchase of UBM’s (CMI’s parent company) entire portfolio of electronics industry publications. As Robert says, having a media company vertically integrated into the products and services you offer to the marketplace is a smart thing to do. Years from now, content executives are going to look back and view moves like this as the tipping point of content marketing’s progression toward greater acceptance and success.
Having a media company integrated into the products & services offered is a smart thing to do. @robert_rose Click To Tweet
  • Greater software company consolidation is coming – especially in the martech space (32:02): If you happened to view Scott Brinker’s impressively comprehensive infographic depicting the current marketing technology landscape, you would likely recognize that this field has grown so vast and complex that it will be tough to sustain further growth. Robert predicts that many of these businesses will fall out, merge, or get acquired in the upcoming year, as enterprise customers look to simplify their use of these solutions.


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2.    Sponsor (33:30)

  • Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 events. Whether you are just getting started with content marketing or are looking to take your expertise to the next level, CMI’s portfolio of events has you covered. From our free virtual ContentTECH conference to Content Marketing World – the largest annual gathering of content marketing professionals in the industry – we offer a wide range of unparalleled training, education, and networking experiences. Check out all the events we have in store for 2017, including our strategy-focused Intelligent Content Conference, and use the code PNR100 for a special discount on registration.


3.    Rants and raves (36:16)

  • Robert’s rave: It’s been an unusually rough year for music fans, as we lost some of the most iconic performers of all time in 2016. Sadly, George Michael became the latest addition to the list, as the erstwhile Wham! front man and celebrated singer/songwriter passed away unexpectedly on Christmas day. As a fan, Robert came across a piece of content that The Late Late Show host James Corden filmed with George Michael in 2011 as part of a U.K. charity event – the concept of which eventually evolved into Corden’s current viral phenomenon: Carpool Karaoke.

  • Joe’s rave: I’m in the middle of reading The Undoing Project, by one of my all-time favorite authors, Michael Lewis. The book explores why people perceive and believe things as they do, and why they don’t. In short, it’s gotten me wondering if our narrow view of marketing – i.e., primarily as a means of driving demand – might be limiting its potential to provide more impactful benefits for the broader enterprise. For 2017, I urge content marketers to start pushing away your biases about content’s purpose and expand your view of what can be accomplished by your efforts.
Push away biases about your content's purpose & expand your view of what can be accomplished. @joepulizzi Click To Tweet

4.    This Old Marketing example of the week (44:35)

  • What is, perhaps, Robert’s favorite example of the year comes to us from Google’s archives of publications. Office Appliances was a B2B magazine that was launched by The Office Appliance Company in 1916 to serve office managers, retail dealers, and others who handle purchases of office equipment, furniture, stationery, and supplies. At over 200 pages long, the issue Robert discovered is a comprehensive round-up of that year’s biggest appliance-related stories. It’s a fascinating read – particularly if you are at all interested in history. But beyond its historical relevance, Robert discovered one amazing article on “house organs” – an old term for in-house magazines – which he feels still accurately characterizes the challenges faced by their modern equivalent: content marketing. Tying back to the point I made in my rave above, the article covers the proceedings from that year’s meeting of the Direct Mail Advertising Association and lists 19 ways that becoming “an internal media company” can deliver value to a wide range of businesses. The entire discussion basically predates everything we are always saying at Content Marketing Institute, making Robert wish he could have been in attendance at that DMAA meeting – and making it a fitting way to close out the year of This Old Marketing.


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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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