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This Week in Content Marketing: Homeless Media’s Huge Opportunity, Big Risk


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 GE’s decision to slash prime-time TV advertising so it can focus on better-performing branded content on live TV shows. Next, “homeless” media may be a huge opportunity for media companies and brands, but can you handle the risks that come with it? Robert and I then disagree on the wisdom of Credit Suisse’s plans to build a social network for super-rich people. Finally, we love John Bell’s excellent list of the ways in which marketers can justify their investment in content marketing. It’s required reading! Raves include Clayton Christensen’s update on the principles of disruptive innovation and The Wall Street Journal’s decision to launch an annual print magazine. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Ancestry.

This week’s show

(Recorded live December 6, 2015; Length: 1:01:15)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • GE is dumping prime-time advertising (4:21): General Electric, one of the fastest-growing U.S. advertising spenders, is abandoning the prime-time TV market for branded content opportunities on live TV shows, such as football games, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Robert and I agree that we’ll be seeing more big advertisers moving in this direction, possibly even becoming the sole sponsor of TV shows – similar to the model of television advertising in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • The rise of “homeless” media (11:38): Today, content can be hosted and monetized on third-party platforms through services including Facebook’s Instant Articles or Snapchat’s Discover. As a result, a new wave of “homeless” media companies will soon emerge that don’t require a home page; their sole purpose will be to syndicate content, reports Francesco Marconi. I think it’s an exciting media model, but only if these channels don’t change the rules – which is unlikely. Robert describes one scenario where it could work very well.
  • Credit Suisse building a social network of rich people (25:33): Credit Suisse is exploring the idea of developing an invitation-only social network called Eleven for very high-net-worth individuals. According to its trademark filing, Eleven would attract users with exclusive events such as private auctions plus advice on financial services, financial investing, venture capital, private equity, real estate, and other topics. I love the way in which this proposed channel is focused on a well-defined audience. Robert is skeptical, based on some research he’s done on this audience and its unique characteristics.
  • There’s a fresh business case for content marketing by brands (33:20): Reading the marketing trades online, one would get the sense that every brand has gotten wise to the value of content marketing and is shifting budget dollars to it. But John Bell, writing in his Digital Influence Mapping Project blog, believes things are progressing much more slowly. Changing opinions and building support for content marketing takes a lot of time and is never really done, he explains. Bell then lists all the ways brands are making the case for content marketing. Robert and I love his take on this topic; this article should be required reading for content marketers.

2. Sponsor (37:46)

  • Widen: You can’t have effective content marketing without efficient content management, especially when it comes to the rich media assets that require another layer of planning and investment. So, end 2015 with a bang (or get 2016 started out right) and get a handle on your marketing assets. Our sponsor, Widen, has created and made available a one-page “DAM Decision Guide” to help you put in place the right-fit digital asset management system for your business. This piece is straight up utility, offering a proven, repeatable process for making some good DAM (or DAM good) decisions. You can get it at


3. Rants and raves (40:50)

  • Robert’s rave: Robert is a huge fan of Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. In recent conversation with another book author, Christensen realized he needed to update his thinking to accommodate today’s business world. Robert loves his latest thinking about this important strategic topic, which appeared in this month’s issue of Harvard Business Review, and in an interview with Christensen on Forbes. Robert loves the focus of this innovation framework, which executives ought to use to make better decisions.
  • Joe’s raves: I have two short raves this week. First, Adam Fraser shared some amazing statistics about Facebook on his EchoJunction blog – specifically, the percentage of mobile minutes spent on Facebook and Instagram, and the amazing percentage of earnings Facebook is investing in R&D.

    The second is an article from FreeportPress, which says The Wall Street Journal is launching a new annual magazine dubbed The Future of Everything; international editions are also planned. This shows that certain stories can still be told best using print and design.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (51:33)

  • Ancestry: This article from AdExchanger talks about the way in which Ancestry has been using content marketing for the last three years to generate engagement and sales. Its objective is to drive subscriptions and sales of its AncestryDNA products. Ancestry publishes articles in its blog; most contain a compelling hook such as What Discoveries Can You Make? to entice readers to sign up. It then distributes these articles using paid channels like Outbrain, Taboola, Yahoo Gemini, and Facebook. The Ancestry marketing team watches article performance metrics carefully, and adjusts their costs per click to drive optimum results. Based on its detailed analysis of conversion and sales data, it has discovered that its conversion rate from content isn’t very high. But when consumers do convert, they tend to become more loyal customers. That makes content an important secondary form of marketing for the popular website. It’s a great example of #ThisOldMarketing.


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

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