The rise in content marketing is driven by the shift in consumer behavior resulting from technological change and both the growth and the fragmentation of media channels. As media has changed, so have the fundamental requirements for successful brand engagement with consumers. For both B2C and B2B, content marketing has, without doubt, become an increasingly important part of the marketing mix.
The recently published IAB Content Marketing Primer, made it clear that advertisers are accelerating their adoption of traditional journalism and publisher techniques to engage today’s digitally empowered consumers while publishers are benefiting from increased revenue opportunities and getting additional content on their site at the same time.
We asked IAB Content Marketing Task Force members, who represent leaders in the space from many of today’s most highly regarded publishers and technology providers, to provide some words of wisdom about the state of content marketing in 2014 and beyond.
- Content is the new ad.
As consumers grow more wary of ads, marketers have embraced the notion of integrating relevant content that aligns to their core messaging and gives consumers real value that leads to meaningful engagement and awareness. In the next year or so, we expect to see nearly 100% of our IAB Rising Stars inventory feature some sort of curated content. We believe the content will be so integral that marketers will begin to optimize the content, not the ad itself. — Skip Brand, Chief Executive Officer, Martini Media,/li>
- We continually hear from our moms that they are most likely to engage with advertising if it is relevant to them.
Content marketing is the perfect opportunity for marketers to reach this audience with meaningful information. — Julie Demsey, VP, Global Product Management, BabyCenter
- This year will see the emergent consensus that participation needs to be the primary success indicator of content marketing campaigns.
Every marketer’s first goal is to establish a relationship with a potential customer. If content isn’t soliciting interaction and engagement from the audience, it has no hope of leading to a relationship or a transaction. — David Fleck, General Manager, Disqus
- This is the year that content marketing will scale. Great branded content means nothing if it’s not found by the right audience.
In 2014, content will need to become more seamlessly integrated and distributed through advanced targeting technology via ad exchanges and RTB platforms. — Sloan Gaon, CEO, PulsePoint
- We’re hell-bent on creating value for our readers and great content is the foundation for that.
Whether it be to educate or entertain, content provides us the ability to make and shape an impression. We fundamentally believe our approach — putting content and ideas ahead of the fad of the day — is the best strategy. It’s genuine, authentic, and goes to the core of what we do as a business — help brands make impressions and not just serve them. We’re thrilled to see advertisers embrace storytelling and we continue to invest to help them in that mission. To say we’re excited about the future is an understatement — WE CAN’T WAIT FOR THE FUTURE. — Andrew Gorenstein, Chief Financial Officer, Gawker
- If 2013 was the year of experimenting with branded content, my hope is that 2014 will be the year of mastering branded content; that is, cutting the crap and truly honing the craft of telling meaningful brand stories in-stream.
In order to be successful, brands need to be prepared to invest; both in top talent [to create the content] and the right platforms [to distribute the content] — Tessa Gould, Director of Native Advertising and HuffPost Partner Studio, Huffington Post
- We live in a consumer driven world, so it should come as no surprise that consumers don’t want to be fed ads, they want to choose to interact with them.
With video in particular, giving consumers the option to choose the messages that they are exposed to leads to increased engagement and a greater likelihood of increased earned media. It’s earned media – the holy grail for marketers – that will continue to drive brands to invest more in content marketing in 2014, especially as we find ways to predict and plan for it. — Paul Krasinski, CMO, Visible Measures
- Content marketing has the potential to be a substantial, long-term solution to many challenges publishers face with respect not just to revenue but satisfying audiences with the kinds of valuable content and experiences they’ve come to expect. — Lisa LaCour, VP, Global Marketing Outbrain
- Advertisers and publishers today need to be where their consumers are across devices delivering the content that their customers and prospects relate to and engage with.
Creating curated, personalized content experiences will increase engagement and purchase. Those that are getting it right are using the right combination of content marketing tools and data science. — Hal Muchnick, COO, AddThis
- The convergence of content and marketing continues to accelerate.
Brands are publishing content at an unprecedented scale in an attempt to capture the minds and wallets of an increasingly fragmented and hungry audience. Publishers are offering content integration as CPMs for display ads face continued downward price pressure from programmatic buying. Within five years I expect content marketing to account for at least 40% of marketing budgets for major brands, with the majority of that spend dedicated to sponsored content from third parties. — Ted Murphy, Founder & CEO, Izea
- To be truly effective, ads needs to inspire and engage users.
The way to do that is through great content, delivering it in relevant and real time. The industry has cracked it on desktop but with mobile browsing set to overtake desktop in 2014, it’s time to change the way we connect with audiences across devices. Content marketing, natively placed, can really help brands deliver results which ultimately help to drive investment and confidence in the mobile advertising space. – Helen Mussard, Associate Director of Global Marketing, Vibrant Media.
- Content marketing will get better and better, and consumers will seek it out as it will add value to the overall experience.
Content marketing will evolve from storytelling, implying a beginning, middle and end, to engagement implying just an end. Content will deemed a success based upon the sharing of the content, not just the eyeballs. — Jonathan Perelman, GM Video & VP Agency Strategy at BuzzFeed
- Brands are turning to paid media to scale the reach of their content marketing.
As brands move from creative to content excellence, they confront questions around what content to use, legal rights, costs, quality and relevance. 2014 will see the emergence of solutions (like Flite and SMG’s CONTENT@SCALE) that empower brands to source and deliver real-time content in the context of consumers’ lives. – Will Price, CEO, Flite
- As the digital marketing industry grows, there are more opportunities than ever for brands and publishers to create content.
No matter the technology, what remains constant is the power of great storytelling. What Mashable believes is key to successful content campaigns is to hold core standards of trust with our audiences by delivering content that readers value most and by being overtly transparent with the identification of sponsored content. There are three principals for successful content marketing: value, trust, and quality. — Seth Rogin, Chief Revenue Officer, Mashable
- During the next 18 months content marketers will be forced to resolve the need for content quality with the demand for content quantity.
Brands will understand which partners produce and distribute the content that drives both consumer engagement and business results. This knowledge will foster an era of optimization for content-based resources marking a turning point in the maturity of content marketing as a specialized discipline. — Dan Rubin, Executive Director, Digital Strategy, MXM
- In 2014 the mindset around content marketing is already making a big shift from ‘if we create it they will come’ to targeted distribution, a focus on business results and everything we’ve learned about using data to make marketing more intelligent, powerful and effective. — Steve Sachs, CEO, Onespot
- More and more, content marketing strategies will be developed as part of marketers’ overall strategic planning process.
In 2014, more marketers will recognize that it is imperative to tell their brand’s story with content delivered in more exciting and interesting new ways, especially to mobile devices. — Matthew Sawyer, VP Content Marketing & Strategic Accounts, Jivox
- As marketers look to unlock the full value of their content assets and pursue even greater levels of engagement from their media investments, paid content distribution will continue to grow. — Chris Schraft, President, Time Inc. Content Solutions
- Effective content marketing requires both art and science.
The art is producing multimedia content that is more informational than promotional. The science is applied through research and data about prospect audiences and the use of media and ad technologies to inform and influence those audiences. — Howard Sholkin, Director, Communications, IDG Communications
- This year, Content Marketing should start to be considered less of a “buzz word” and more of a standard when it comes to digital marketing strategy.
Advertisers will continue to produce content and those who are able to promote the content to their consumers will stand out from the crowd. Content marketing is only as good as the audience that it attracts. — Andrew Susman, President & CEO, StudioOne
- As the market for content becomes more crowded, firms that take into account their audiences and what types of content they find most engaging will have the most successful marketing programs.
It’s no longer enough to throw a blog post up and hope for the best. Content now needs to add value, provide information or engage the audience on a personal basis. Content marketing is shifting to emphasize quality over quantity. — Joe Webster, Director of Marketing, Smartbrief
Lastly, our friend Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute who is a member of the IAB Task Force in an advisory and partnership capacity, made three provocative predictions:
- + Native Advertising Will Explode: The idea of placing content within the context of other publisher’s sites will skyrocket.
- + At Least Three Fortune 500 Companies Will Hire a Chief Content Officer: Right now, we are seeing “content run amok” in many enterprises. If someone isn’t being made accountable for content marketing within the organization, it’s not being given its due importance.
- + Brands will start looking into buying media companies (versus building a content factory) as a viable strategy in 2014.
There is no shortage of opinions about content marketing, but one thing the industry appears to agree on is that the future looks bright for content marketing as a win for consumers, brands, agencies and tech alike. What’s your take on the state of content marketing in 2014 and beyond? Please share your comments below.
Susan Borst is the Director of Industry Initiatives at the IAB where she leads the Social Media, B2B and Games Committees, plus the Content Marketing and Native Advertising Task Force initiatives. She works closely IAB-member digital publishers and technology providers and more to set guidelines and industry thought leadership. @susanborst