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This Week in Content Marketing: The Seduction of Rented Land


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 ponder the pros and cons of Facebook’s decision to enable third-party branded content for verified publishers and influencers. Next, we discuss Medium’s new publisher tool set, which includes support for sponsored and members-only content. Is Medium’s new “insta-CMS” still “rented land” that publishers should avoid? We aren’t quite sure. Finally, we interpret Prevention magazine’s decision to drop all print ads and Mashable’s decision to focus on its core business. Rants and raves include agencies abdicating their roles as content strategists, the savvy acquisition of a content marketing superstar in the feminine hygiene market, and Audible’s expansion into short-form audio (just don’t call them podcasts). We wrap up the show with a This Old Marketing example of the week from The General Magazine.

This week’s show

(Recorded live April 11, 2016; Length: 1:00:50)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • Facebook will start offering branded content (6:38): Facebook has announced it will enable media companies and other verified influencers to share branded content from third parties on their Facebook pages. They must follow its updated branded content policy and must tag marketers in their posts with a special icon. Third-party advertisers will be able to view engagement data, too. This article is paired with one from Digiday, which reports that Facebook page traffic declined 20% from January to March. The biggest drops appear to be from publishers that have invested heavily in Instant Articles. Robert and I agree that Facebook’s new branded content model will quickly become a potent new profit center for the media giant. It should be a powerful tool for PR firms, which tend to be heavily focused on influencer marketing today.
Can We Please Stop Using Branded Content?
  • Making Medium more powerful for publishers (20:04): Medium recently announced the launch of Medium for Publishers, which offers an expanded tool kit to publishers and bloggers. It includes the ability to offer sponsored content on their Medium sites and subscription-based memberships for controlled access to premium content. This makes it an “insta-CMS” that may soon become a viable alternative to WordPress. This article is paired with a column by John Battelle, a founding editor of Wired magazine. He is launching a new magazine on Medium called NewCo Shift, which will focus on the next phase of capitalism. Robert and I discuss the risks and opportunities he faces by building it on that platform.
  • Prevention magazine takes a radical step: No print ads (32:43): Rodale, the publisher of Prevention magazine, will eliminate ads starting with its July issue. Its plan is to offset the lost revenue by increasing subscription fees. This article is paired with Mashable’s recent announcement of personnel shifts and job cuts. It will eliminate world news and politics as standalone channels. I applaud Prevention’s bold move because publishing is moving away from its heavy dependence on advertising. Robert believes Mashable’s decision is a smart one. It should stop trying to cover the world like the Huffington Post and refocus on its core business – digital lifestyle.

2. Sponsor (40:01)

  • GoToWebinar:  Webinars are consistently rated as the No.1 marketing tactic for lead generation. Over 60% of all marketers utilize webinars. But many businesses still struggle with how to find their target audience and deliver the right message. Following a very simple five-step plan, the keys to using webinars for successful lead generation go from daunting to doable. From finding your audience and developing engaging content to authentic interaction and webinar promotion, you’ll discover the five steps to attract your target audience to your next webinar in this new report from GoToWebinar. You can download it here:

Go ToWebinar-Sponsor

   3. Rants and raves (42:09)

  • Roberts’s raves: Robert gives a big shout-out to Eric White at Vertical Measures, for his article on Why Your Content Marketing Agency is Failing You. It addresses an issue he’s hearing a lot from his advisory clients: Agencies are enthusiastic about assisting brands with execution, but aren’t providing enough input on content marketing strategy. He also loves SheKnows Media’s acquisition of HelloFlo, a feminine hygiene product company. HelloFlo has been doing an outstanding job of content marketing, thinking and acting like a media company – so much so that it captured the attention of a female-owned and managed publishing company.
  • Joe’s rave: I love Audible’s announcement that it’s entering podcasting with its new Channels service, which will augment its audiobook offerings with shorter audio programs. I predict that Audible, which is owned by Amazon, will take podcasting to a whole new level and will help to drive a big future for short-form audio.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (52:18)

  • The General Magazine: The General was a bimonthly magazine devoted to supporting Avalon Hill’s line of wargames, with articles on game tactics, history, and industry news. Launched in 1964, it was the first professionally-produced wargaming magazine for the nascent cardboard and hex-map wargaming hobby. It covered the games, strategies, and best practices for playing them and contained user-generated content, reader surveys, Q&As about game strategy, and other helpful content. Part of its mission was to teach readers how to play Avalon Hill’s wargames. In so doing, The General helped to grow the market for them. As the popularity of this publication grew, other fanzines and amateur publications sprung up around it, focused on specific games. The General promoted them to help support and grow the wargaming community; this was the 1970s and 1980s version of “going viral.” In 1998, Avalon Hill was acquired by Hasbro, which ceased the publication of The General soon after. It’s a wonderful example of This Old Marketing.

The General Magazine

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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