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This Week in Content Marketing: The Third Era of the Internet Has Begun


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 AOL co-founder Steve Case’s take on the third era of the Internet (yes, this is such a thing). We also ponder whether or not LEGO went off the rails with its “beauty tips for girls” section in the LEGO Club magazine, and explore PR’s role in content marketing. Next, we critique a set of predictions on the future of consumer behavior and advertising and finish up this week’s news with a look at revenue models for podcasts.  Rants and raves include Starbucks’ awkward response to criticism of its “Race Together” campaign and IDG’s clever method of affiliate marketing. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Backcountry.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on March 22, 2015; Length: 58:49)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • A pivotal point for the Internet (4:50): According to AOL co-founder and technology investor Steve Case, the Internet is now on the brink of a new wave of disruption that will be unprecedented in scale. The first two waves disrupted the communications industry, media, and commerce. The third wave, he predicts, will impact fields as diverse as health care, education, transportation, energy, and food. Robert and I compare notes on Case’s predictions and talk about the implications for content marketers.
  • Beauty tips for girls from LEGO (13:18): According to this opinion piece by Sharon Holbrook on The New York Times website, LEGO has made a major faux pas by trying to give little girls beauty advice in the March-April 2015 LEGO Club magazine. In the process, the toy brick manufacturer is causing girls to worry about how they look at a very young age, according to Holbrook. Robert and I don’t view this as a huge gaffe by LEGO, but it does show that any content we publish with a strong point of view or voice will probably be disagreeable to someone.
  • PR seizing the advantage of content marketing (22:08): This article from The Drum explains why PR professionals are well-positioned to benefit from the boom in content marketing. The author points out that PR has always been the custodian for content within organizations, and it is most closely tied to journalism. The author claims that PR can take a leadership role in content marketing, but Robert and I don’t see that happening. We reveal who we think is looking at content holistically and is best positioned to lead content marketing initiatives.
  • Ender’s Analysis – the five trends shaping consumer behavior and advertising (31:50): Douglas McCabe, CEO of Enders Analysis, outlined five trends that publishers and advertisers must be aware of in his speech at Digital Media Strategies 2015. He covers TV viewing habits, wearables, mobile, online news, and content marketing. Robert and I agree that some of McCabe’s predictions are fairly obvious, but he does offer a unique perspective on the future of content marketing. In a side discussion, we make some bold predictions about the evolution of Red Bull as a brand.
  • The economics of the podcast boom (39:15): Ann Friedman, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, takes a deep dive into the economic factors that are supporting the current boom in podcasting. She provides an excellent review of podcasting revenue models, how podcasters are benefiting from affiliate networks and why big media is dabbling in this form of audio content. Robert and I discuss how brands can employ podcasting in their content marketing initiatives.

2. Sponsor (42:49)

  • 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 (44:36)

  • Joe’s rave: I’m fascinated with this article from Digiday, which describes how technology publishing giant IDG has been building revenue using affiliate marketing; it now represents 6% of the company’s total revenue. What caught my attention is the clever way in which they do it, which maintains a separation between its journalists and its advertising teams.
  • Robert’s rant: Starbucks has shut down its “Race Together” campaign, after receiving widespread criticism for its effort to improve race relations. Employees will no longer be encouraged to write “Race Together” on drink cups. Worse yet, Starbucks’ Senior Vice President of Communications Corey DuBrowa blocked critics of the campaign and eventually deleted his Twitter account. Robert explains how the company should have told its story, and what marketers can learn from this PR disaster.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (52:37)

  • Backcountry: Backcountry is an excellent retail website that sells products for camping, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Recently, it started telling the backstories of some of the products it sells. Tentsile Tents were the first products featured. They are suspended in the air rather than anchored into the ground. This minimizes damage to the ground and makes them suitable for rugged areas where there isn’t room to set up a traditional tent. Backcountry has produced a high-quality two-minute video interview with the co-founder of Tentsile on why he and his partner started the company. This is an excellent example of “brandscaping” – partnering with companies that have complementary audiences or content that can enhance your content marketing initiatives.

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

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