How Content Devoured Marketing

Content Utopia


So yeah, everyday there’s some “marketing guru” in corporate America trying to find what some nugget (consumer insights) to foster a relationship between me and the products that their ads represent. The antiquated assumption is that a relationship can be developed with a human (not consumer) through interrupting my life with ads. That’s just goofy.

Though, at some savvier brands and agencies, folks are thinking about what kinds of stories, short films, games, gamification, integrated experiences and edutainment materials will connect with my current lifestyle as opposed to interrupting my life with annoying and stupid ads. These forward-thinking brands are essentially trying to be my friend the way that real relationships are born.

The “give-first” mentality is the essence of strong human relationships. Smart brands are charging their agency cohorts to help them behave more like real people through authentic content experiences. Lots of brands caught wind of these changes in 2015 as credible content became the fastest growing channel for most companies.

Since the 21st Century is the age of democratized publishing, this decade has to be the era of brand publishing. Indeed, many brands are moving away from the lift and shift marketing model into the committed brand publisher model with ease. Shifting resources and expanding their awareness about the ecosystem and how people actually flow through it.

Twenty-fifteen was a year of convergence, we saw the content discipline continue to evolve from a media-corporation model (make content, sell ads) to the corporate-media model (make content, get closer to customers). The basic premise of committed brand publishing is that; all companies are actually media company with things (products, services, experiences) to sell.

During the same year about 85% of US organizations used content for marketing in a strategic manner. About half of those companies used 25% of their marketing budget on non-advertising content. That is an unprecedented year-over-year jump.

Before the Interweb, publishers needed a few things; talent to find and produce stories, a printing press or a broadcast distribution network. Back then publishers and networks found out about their content’s resonance on their audiences via syndicated data. Humans and analog technology provided this data for most of the 20th century. The audit model was to produce and wait for the results; weeks or months later and then tweak it for the next cycle.

In the Interweb age, smart folks like Buzzfeed and Mashable use the same process with new tools; tech-savvy producers, content management systems and analytics to inform the cycle while compressing time cycles.

Instead of treating content as ads with a shelf life, we’re seeing content as a way to build an owned asset (audience). The 2015 content convergence brought disparate audience development strategies into one strategy that points to owned content first. Smart brands build their content and used “rented” social content to drive audiences to their own turf. That’s the main way that content devoured marketing.

Written by: David Muhammad, Sr., Chief Strategy Officer, C/W/I/P, [cee-whip] digital agency