Content Marketing Fortnight II: Advertising is…unclear
Here’s your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content. (For more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. And, if you want to get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week, send me a mail.)
Advertising is _______.
The head of the IAB comes late to the party that is advertising’s identity crisis. In all truth, I think he’s done a good job of summarizing some tectonic shifts:
Digital technologies have put the very definition of advertising and marketing up for grabs. Now, when a marketer asks for a new campaign, the response from the team is literally a question mark.
At the forefront of those shifts: An idea that advertising should be more useful and valuable. Content marketing winds are blowing down Madison Avenue.
How do VCs value content marketing
An interesting article in VentureBeat shares compelling analysis of VC investment in the content marketing space. Six investment buckets emerge. It’s worth noting that the top four relate specifically to helping brands get broader distribution for their branded content messages. (NB! I have a report coming out next week about distribution of branded content).
Paid Content brings an interesting example of brand-sponsored content. Warby Parker has sponsored free reads of an Atavist e-single, which usually cost about $3. Note how Atavist has stylishly weaved the sponsorship into the piece.
Content marketing toolbox recommendations
The outgoing content marketer of the year Joe Chernov returned to Content Marketing World with a presentation that wowed the crowd: 10 rocking products for content marketers. (Forrester can’t endorse the products either way right now, but – if Joe prizes them – then they should at the very least be on content marketers’ radars.)
Let’s gripe about content marketing
Anyone telling you that content marketing’s all wine and roses hasn’t been in the game too long. On the occasion of a major gathering of content marketers, OpenView Partners’ Kevin Cain gave them a platform to air their grievances. There are 60 comments already. My favorite:
Probably the biggest challenge I've faced is getting executive buy-in on the value of content marketing. And it's the biggest challenge because it's got such a trickle effect.
Yes and yes. And we’re on it.
Branded content or advertising? “Yes, please,” say British senior marketers
A study by content marketing agency Seven and re-published by MarketingWeek UK demonstrates some ambiguity over whether customers want to be talked to by a brand, talked at or not talked with at all. But 60% of senior marketers believe brands will be built by combining content with traditional advertising.
Jim Cuene of General Mills remarks on the future of e-commerce through the lens of a great little content-powered e-commerce site called Huckberry:
Call it “content commerce” or “story sales” or something different, but ultimately it comes down to buying stories vs. buying simple products. Or, it’s story and experience as the differentiator over price.
I doubt Jeff Bezos is losing sleep yet, but these kinds of sites are certainly on the rise, and pulling together loyal and profitable client bases.
Native advertising’s original sin
Early this week, I made a strong call for transparency by both marketers and publishers when labeling paid-for content. The FTC’s going to look at the topic in December. And the publishing industry’s remarkably schizophrenic about native advertising. Some fear it. Some like it. The divide seems to fall between the editorial and revenue sides of the publishing business. In other news, Pinterest becomes perhaps the final social network to take up the “sponsored content” relay pin. (Get it?)
The secret to viral content
US military scientists have discovered how content goes viral, says the MIT Technology Review. The key: Identifying the minimum “seed” network needed to infect a much larger network. If the topic is kittens, that seed network must be pretty small. [Hat-tip to Forrester colleague Anthony Mullen for spotting this one.]
Apps make readers less promiscuous?
Benedict Evans observes that Internet content’s increasingly being consumed in siloed apps. The butterfly consumption pattern online (where web surfers flit from page to page across domains like a butterfly visiting flowers in a meadow) will be matched with a tendency to deep dive. How do brands and publishers respond? Answer: Each behavior has value. Optimize appropriately.
A new Medium rethinks content’s value
When the guy who founded Blogger, co-founded Twitter and founded Medium talks content, you should listen (at least, if you’re into content). Against the prevailing fashion, he’s arguing for the value of time spent on a page, as opposed to clicks or pageviews. But he’s not making money yet, either. Web content’s troubled financial relationship with attention may be seeing its final battle.
Meet your millennial audience
A remarkable short film made a break-out appearance at the Toronto film festival. The 17-minute film occurs entirely on a teenager’s computer screen, and documents a break-up. For marketers, it’s the first-person perspective of millennials online behavior that’s most valuable. [I’d embed it, but it’s been pulled from YouTube. Keep your eyes open for its return.]
Finally, remarkable content of the fortnight
Google ThinkInsights does thought leadership in classic Google style: Clearly, smoothly, persuasively and web-natively. Check out their insights in the path to purchase (which build on ZMOT, another great piece of Google thought leadership).
Oh, and if you didn’t see the new Chipotle video, you should check it out: