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This Week in Content Marketing: Is Google+ Finally Dead? Well, Not Really

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 ponder whether Google+ is really dead or if it will continue to live in some other form. Next, we discuss Google’s planned evolution of its search algorithm to focus more on facts and less on links, and why The New York Times is going Hollywood with native advertising. We also question a research study’s claim that PR is the new content marketing.  Rants and raves include why marketers can’t measure, and how to get your long-form articles to go viral. We wrap up the show with two #ThisOldMarketing examples from RCA Records and Kellogg’s.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on March 9, 2015; Length: 59:51)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Is Google+ finally dead? (6:19): Google has announced it will split Google+ into multiple pieces, The Independent reports. Photos and Streams will be the new home of images and status updates, respectively. Meanwhile, the future of its popular Hangouts and the Google+ brand continue to be uncertain. Wired digs deeper into the thinking behind the split, in light of the evolution of the social media network. Robert and I both agree that this move is another example of the danger of building your audience on someone else’s channel. We also wonder why Google continues to do such a flat-footed job of announcing changes to its services.
  • Google wants to rank sites based on facts, not links (16:10): Google’s search engine currently uses a number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, which is used as one measure of where it should appear in search results. A Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web, according to NewScientist. This new algorithm, which is not live yet, counts the number of correct and incorrect facts within a web page to determine its trustworthiness. Robert and I agree this is a fascinating development, but it could also represent a slippery slope for Google.
  • NYT wants aspiring directors to create native ads (22:45): T Brand Studio, the native advertising team within The New York Times, has launched a program called The Selectsaccording to Advertising Age. It asks directors who aren’t already represented by a production company or agency to submit their work for a chance to make native ads for marketers. Directors will submit short films and T Brand Studio will select the best five to work with its brand clients. This initiative doesn’t feel right to me for some reason; Robert thinks it’s a brilliant idea.
  • The future of PR is content marketing (28:52): BuzzStream and Fractl recently published the results of a study that reveals huge increases in the popularity of content marketing and inbound marketing, while public relations and related terms have steadily declined. BuzzStream and Fractl analyzed 20 search terms during the last seven years to compile this data. Robert and I agree that just because people are searching on a term doesn’t mean it’s growing or declining as a practice.

2. Sponsor (38:13)

  • This Old Marketing is sponsored by DigitalRelevance, which increases search visibility, web traffic, and conversions by executing research-driven content marketing, digital PR, and SEO strategies. DigitalRelevance is offering The Media Buyer’s Guide to Sponsored Editorial Content. It includes everything you need to know about sponsored content, from evolution, controversy, and regulation to execution tools and a proven buying strategy. It also includes the world’s first research study and statistical analysis to determine fair market value prices for sponsored content. Learn more at


3. Rants and raves (41:08)

  • Robert’s rant: Articles in Advertising Age and MarketingCharts cover a new study done by Duke University, the American Marketing Association, and McKinsey & Co. But these articles come to opposite conclusions about CMO investment in marketing analytics. What this says to Robert is that marketers are still very confused about measurement, and probably always will be. I agree; it will continue to be a huge challenge for marketers, perhaps an insurmountable one.
  • Robert’s rave: Robert loves the new content initiative for the movie Unfinished Business, in which actor Vince Vaughn and his co-stars appear in a series of stock images, which are available free for use from Getty. This is one of those ideas that left Robert asking, “Why hasn’t anyone else done this before?” He thinks it’s brilliant!
  • Joe’s rave: I love this Fast Company article that outlines how to write smart, long articles that go absolutely viral. I share the author’s No. 1 strategy for writing this type of content. It’s something that’s deceptively simple and can make a world of difference in the effectiveness of your content. I also share what a “search for the truth” has to do with crafting viral content.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (53:15)

  • RCA and Kellogg’s: The 1950s were the golden era of the record industry. Elvis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and other remarkable performers graced the airwaves. Competition between record companies was cutthroat. In this environment, RCA Victor partnered with Kellogg’s, P&G, and Heinz to try something completely different. They included coupons with their products that enabled consumers to get free or low-cost music samplers. One promotion for Crest toothpaste involved 5 million packages that contained coupons for a 25-cent sampler of new songs. After it pulled an amazing 10% response rate, other manufacturers quickly jumped onboard, eager to capitalize on this exciting new opportunity. During the next decade, promotional tie-ins became a huge business. Today’s version of this is the large number of tie-ins between new movie releases and fast-food retailers. The lesson? If you think like a media company about your content strategy, you can uncover opportunities to let advertisers subsidize the creation, distribution, and sales of your products.


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

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