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This Week in Content Marketing: Long-Form Content Actually Works on Smartphones


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 debate the accuracy of new research that says content marketing and native advertising are expected to double in the U.K. by 2020. Next, we’re encouraged by a study that proves that engaging long-form content does get read on smartphones. So much for conventional wisdom about reading habits on these diminutive mobile devices. Finally, we aren’t surprised that using multichannel networks to reach influencers isn’t scalable; creating branded content is equally laborious and doesn’t lend itself to a programmatic approach. Rants and raves include two must-read articles on the state of marketing and advertising today. We wrap up the show with a This Old Marketing example from McCall’s.

This week’s show

(Recorded live May 9, 2016; Length: 57:49)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Coupon code for Content Marketing World (4:38): The early-bird registration rate for Content Marketing World 2016 will expire on May 31, 2016. As a PNR listener, if you register now using the coupon code PNR, you can get an extra $100 off.
  • Content marketing spend predicted to double in the U.K. (6:30): Content marketing spend in the U.K. is set to rise 179.2% to £349 million in 2020, from £125 million in 2014, according to a report from Yahoo and Enders Analysis. But a closer look at this article reveals that it’s actually focused on the growth of native advertising in the U.K. Robert and I are dismayed that it confuses the two terms. It also focuses on the traditional metric of advertising reach, and not on building an audience, which is far more important.
Native Advertising Is Not Content Marketing
  • Good news: people will read your long stories on their phones (15:58): A new report from the Pew Research Center reveals that people will read longer content on their smartphones. Robert says this proves readers will engage with content if it captures their attention and provides value to them. I plan to use this data in my presentations to prove to audiences that content doesn’t always need to be “short and snackable.” Length doesn’t matter – content needs to be differentiated and valuable to its target audience.
People will read longer #content on phones if it captures their attention & provides value via @robert_rose Share on X
  • Multichannel networks contend with ad buyer fatigue (24:49): Some ad buyers are starting to wonder whether working with multichannel networks (MCNs) is worth all the trouble. MCNs help advertisers connect with digital creators and influencers and their young, TV-avoiding fans. But advertisers are now finding that MCNs aren’t as scalable as they thought. Robert and I agree that they can be valuable if the influencers can be integrated into your content brand to help grow its audience. We discuss two companies that are doing this successfully: Emerson and GE.
  • Content commoner, not king (32:55): Publishers are about to enter a phase of branded content fatigue from advertisers, warns Brian Fitzgerald in a column on AdExchanger. Advertisers are discovering that creating branded content is a laborious process that doesn’t scale well. Robert and I agree that quality content takes time because it needs to be focused on the needs of the audience and the behaviors you’d like to cultivate in them. It’s not easy to programmatically distribute this type of content to multiple platforms.
Content Marketing: Forget About the 5%

2. Sponsor (37:34)

  • Marketo: Did you know that warm temperatures make buyers more receptive to brand and product communications? According to the Journal of Consumer Psychology, warm temperatures activate the concept of emotional warmth. This makes summer the perfect time for you to engage and nurture your buyers because they’re more receptive to offers, content, and discounts. Download Marketo’s new eBook Summer Marketing 101 to learn how you can leverage what the season has to offer! You can download it at


3. Rants and raves (40:03)

  • Robert’s rave: Robert loves an AdAge article entitled Media Planning Must Change in the Customer-Centric Digital Economy. It does an awesome job of covering a number of key issues, including how to get audiences to want to engage with us and how to organize around the ways in which our customers make purchasing decisions. The bottom line: Do small actions that drive deep value with fewer people because they become your biggest fans. This excellent analysis is required reading for content marketers!
Do small actions that drive deep value w/fewer people. They become your biggest fans via @robert_rose Share on X
  • Joe’s rave: I’m a big fan of Kirk Cheyfitz’s CCO article on the future of advertising, which insists that now is the time to truly put customers first and deliver really valuable experiences to them. I love his point that we must be “ferocious advocates for our audiences,” delivering content and experiences that matter to them. Like Robert’s article, this one is required reading.   
We must be ferocious advocates for our audiences says @kirkcheyfitz #contentmarketing Share on X

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (49:45)

  • McCall’s magazine: McCall’s was a monthly American women’s magazine that enjoyed great popularity through much of the 20th century, peaking at a readership of 8.4 million in the early 1960s. James McCall started it in 1870 as a content marketing platform to promote his line of sewing patterns. He called it The Queen: Illustrating McCall’s Bazaar Glove-Fitting Patterns. After his death in 1884, it gradually began to publish homemaking and handiwork information. In 1913, the magazine was purchased by the banking firm of White Weld & Co., which organized the McCall Corporation and further expanded the magazine’s content. During the early part of the 20th century, McCall’s published fiction by such well-known authors as John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Zane Grey. In 2000, Rosie O’Donnell became the editorial director at McCalls. In 2001, the magazine was renamed Rosie. It was discontinued in 2002 in a dispute with its publisher. McCall’s was an excellent example of This Old Marketing.

McCall's Magazine

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

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