Skip to content

This Week in Content Marketing: Red Bull Is Not in the Content Marketing Business


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

In this episode of This Old Marketing, Robert and I share our thoughts on an article about the future of big media. It’s on life support and needs to make some major changes to survive. Next, we discuss new research that reveals what motivates people to subscribe to publications and wonder why an article that aims to clarify native advertising terminology doesn’t do so. Finally, we agree that marketers can learn a lot from Marriott’s savvy CMO, who has spearheaded a number of brilliant content initiatives for the travel giant. Rants and raves include a bright future for audio content, the diminishing human attention span, and the rise of digital agencies within the world’s largest consulting firms. We wrap up the show with the origin story behind Red Bulletin magazine.

This week’s show

(Recorded live May 2, 2016; Length: 59:55)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes.

1. Content marketing in the news

  • Your media business will not be saved (5:12): According to Joshua Topolsky, founder of The Verge, big media is in big trouble. Faced with the democratization of publishing and wave after wave of digital innovation, it has responded the only way it knows how: Trying to reach ever-larger audiences and then attempting to monetize them as much as possible, often using clickbait. Topolsky says the solution is high-quality content delivered consistently to a well-defined audience. Robert and I agree that media and marketers need to focus much more on quality and much less on quantity. We need to stop glorifying busy-ness as an end unto itself.
You Are Publishing Too Much (and Failing)
  • Digital subscriptions driven by customer perception of exclusivity (14:24): What do customers want from digital publications? New research from Publishing Executive and MarketingSherpa sheds light on what motivates them to subscribe. Robert and I focus on one curious finding from this study: The more a publication’s point of view aligns with our worldview, the less likely we are to subscribe to it. Our interpretation? We want to be challenged in our thinking.
  • Native advertising definitions continue to confuse (22:14): Many people use the terms native advertising, branded content, brand journalism, and sponsored content interchangeably, which causes a lot of confusion. This article from MediaPost cites a set of definitions from Joe Lazauskas, editor in chief of Contently, to help readers make sense of this confusing lexicon. But it does nothing to clarify it. Robert and I dislike the way Lazauskas equates native advertising with content marketing. Here’s Roberts’ take on the lexicon of digital marketing.

Native Advertising Is Not Content Marketing
  • Metrics meet magic – How Marriott CMO Karin Timpone reaches next-gen travelers through incredible content (30:19): In this fascinating interview on the Contently blog, Marriott’s CMO explains how the travel giant is using content to drive ROI. She also provides insights into its world-renowned media operation. I love the way in which Timpone explains how Marriott focuses on its most valuable customers, and how it has made the connection between increasing customer engagement and profitable behavior. Any CMO who wants to justify content marketing will benefit from reading this interview.
The Secret to Content Marketing ROI

2. Sponsor (34:38)

  • Marketo: No matter what rumors you’ve heard – email is not dead! It continues to be a top-performing marketing channel – as long as you stand out. Check out Marketo’s Highly Effective Email Marketing Lookbook to get inspired with nine new email types to stay front and center with clever, catchy, and bold content. Download the Lookbook here:


3. Rants and raves (36:40)

  • Joe’s rave: I love Edison Research’s latest Share of Ear study, which shows that 20% of audio is consumed on smartphones; 34% of survey respondents said they listen to some audio content on their mobile devices at least once per day. But only 7% of that content is podcasts. I believe this points to a huge upside potential for podcasts and other forms of audio content. I’m already seeing this in the year-over-year growth in the number of downloads of the audio versions of my books.
  • Robert’s rant and rave: Robert is peeved about an infographic that perpetuates the myth that the average human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish – 8 seconds. He checked the research and learned that it refers to the amount of time spent on the home page of a website. He believes this time span has diminished because people have become numb to bad content.


Click to enlarge

  • Robert likes a Forbes article that describes how consulting firms like Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG, and PwC have become a dominant force on Madison Avenue. Tech companies like IBM are also forming their own digital agencies via acquisition. Talk about a quiet revolution!

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (47:51)

  • Red Bulletin: I recently had an opportunity to hear Robert Sperl, editorial director of Red Bull’s magazine, explain its origin story. In 2005, Red Bull was a major sponsor of Formula One racing. The company wanted to deliver a printed race guide with the results of each race immediately after the event. Prior to each race, they gathered inside stories about the drivers and fun facts about the history of each race and assembled and pre-printed the bulk of each magazine ahead of time. They brought a Heidelberg press to the track. As soon as the race was over, they quickly printed the results and distributed the magazines containing them to attendees as they were leaving the race – an astounding feat. In 2007, Red Bull decided to evolve this publication into a men’s lifestyle magazine. They launched Red Bulletin in five countries, with 70% international content and 30% content localized to each region. Today, Red Bulletin magazine is published in five languages and is distributed in 10 countries. It prints and distributes 2.3 million copies of the magazine each month, including mailing it to 550,000 paid subscribers. Red Bulletin is an excellent example of This Old Marketing.


Image source

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

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

How do I subscribe?

itunes logostitcher logo