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The Speculator: An Interview with me in Content Magazine

I’m honored to have been featured in an interview in the Summer, 2015 edition of Content Magazine

Rebecca Lieb sees a rosy yet crowded future of content marketing through the lens of her exhaustive research.

Content: A year ago you said that the future of content marketing tools will be in stacks that accommodate everything from content creation to compliance. Teradata provides software for these types of solutions. Where are we at now in that evolution?
Rebecca Lieb: When I started doing this research in 2014, in the six months it took me, I saw the software landscape increase from about 80 companies to about 150. Now there’s well over 200 companies in the content marketing software space—and there would be even more if the big players like Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce weren’t buying some of them up. So there’s tons of activity on the product development level and we’re seeing some of these players get very, very successful.

You also said at that time that no vendor has an end-to-end solution but you did mention that Adobe was best poised to do that.
We identified basically three main buckets of content workflow and eight separate workflow scenarios: everything ranging from creation to curation and aggregation through to governance, legal and compliance. Nobody’s got an end-to-end solution, a content stack in the sense that there are advertising stacks that do it all. Integration is very hard when you’re a company like Adobe building software and then getting it to play nice with all the other software. So, Adobe has the most pieces of the puzzle but nobody has integrated these eight different workflow scenarios into one seamless software solution yet.

IBM has not gotten involved. Can you speculate as to why they haven’t?
I think IBM is the proverbial 2,000-pound gorilla in this space. I can’t tell you why but if they wanted to do it tomorrow they could. One thing that IBM has invested in very heavily is the social marketing software space: we call it the SMSS. I’m predicting that over the next couple of years the content marketing stack is going to absorb the social marketing software space and we’ve already seen very big players in social media marketing, like Sprinklr, move very aggressively into the content space and that’s just because social media is really just a platform for content. Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn: they’d all be empty if it wasn’t for content. So that can be applied to IBM. You could argue IBM is in the space in the social respect if not across the entirety of the stack.

Between ad agencies and PR agencies, which do you think has the biggest challenges when it comes to storytelling?
I think they both have equal challenges and the reason is converged media. We’re seeing PR agencies, for the first time in history, make media buys; but, by the same token, advertising agencies are terrific at media buying but really don’t look at content as content. They look at content as creative: something to fill space or time in the context of advertising. So, all of these agencies are learning new skill sets and nearly all of them, certainly all of the major ones, have opened up global chains of newsrooms and grand storytelling plays. At the same time we’re looking at publishers trying to be a content marketing agency. This is a way for them to get incremental revenues and they’ve always done this in the context of advertorials, haven’t they?

Please read the full interview on the Content Magazine website

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New Chapter: VP, Content Marketing at Teradata Applications

Over recent years, I’ve dedicated most of my effort and inquiry into content marketing and content strategy.  I’ve written a book on the topic, as well as published more research in the field than any other individual.

Content is the distillation of all my professional passions. I’ve worked as a marketer, editor, journalist and analyst – all media, all the time. Since the beginning of digital I’ve been at the forefront of search, email, social media, digital advertising and digital publishing. All these (and more) couldn’t exist without content. All media, in fact, are containers for content.

I’ve also been studying how content works; how organizations plan, strategize and resource for it, and how content flows between paid, owned and earned media.

Today I put my brand-side hat on again and will begin to practice what I’ve been preaching. I’m proud to join Teradata Applications’ smart marketing team to oversee content for their global marketing operations.

Some friends and colleagues have asked what precipitated the move. Here are my reasons for making the change.

  1. The opportunity to practice – and to put into action – the principles I’ve been studying and the analysis I’ve conducted.
  2. Getting my hands dirty. As a strategic advisor I’ve been helping organizations from agencies to publishers to big-box retailers, financial institutions, healthcare and non-profits with their content strategies. Now I can be there for execution, too.
  3. Going global – as a marketers, I was always involved with bringing brands across borders. While I speak internationally, the lion’s share of my work has been US-based since I crossed over from the brand side. Having lived and worked abroad extensively, I’m looking forward to taking up global initiatives again.
  4. The position – organizations are only just beginning to organize for content. Few are a forward-looking as to put an executive in charge of content initiatives. I’ve researched this trend, and am excited to be one of the very first (of many to come) senior content marketing executives out in the wild.
  5. The organization – I believe in Teradata’s product, and in its people. The company is consistently called out as one of the best in its field, most ethical, and most sustainable companies in the world.

So wish me luck, keep in touch, and I’ll keep you posted on insights from the inside.

Oh, and don’t think for a moment this move with move me out of the traffic. I fully intend (and am fully supported by my new employer) to keep speaking, writing, and staying thought-leader involved in all things digital marketing and media.

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A Personal Transition & Career Change

I’m in the bittersweet process of transitioning out of my role as industry analyst at Altimeter Group. I plan to remain with the company until early summer, finishing obligations and projects for some wonderful clients, including research and strategy work, as well as public speaking.

Then I’ll strike out and do something new. What, exactly, is still TBD.

I’m sharing this news for two reasons. First, transparency. At Adobe Summit last week, it was awkward to meet old friends and new acquaintances and answer the “what do you do?” question. Yes, I’m still at Altimeter, but one foot is inching toward the door.

I also want to signal my availability. I’m pleased to be in talks with a diverse list of organizations: brands, analyst firms, and agencies. I’m considering a variety of options, from remaining an analyst to putting my practitioner hat back on in a senior marketing role. I am also taking on client projects (advisory and thought leadership), as well as booking speaking engagements.

I’ve also been asked to join a number of advisory boards, an exciting prospect (unless I remain an analyst, in which case that’s a non-starter). I’m energized, daunted, nostalgic and sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, my head swimming with possibilities. It’s all good, and still very open-ended. I’m figuring this out while juggling a full workload and all the while maintaining my elite level frequent flyer status.

Working at Altimeter is one of the best jobs I ever had. I’m very proud of having produced a significant body of research on content marketing – more than any other researcher or analyst in the field – as well as my work in converged media. I’ve shared that knowledge in literally hundreds of keynotes and speeches on three continents, from major conferences to private events.

I’m also proud of my advisory and thought-leadership work with clients ranging from major banks, healthcare organizations, big-box retailers, and government agencies, to start-ups and non-profits. Recent clients include Home Depot, Adobe, Nestlé, Facebook, Gannett, Honeywell, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Fidelity, Wells Fargo, Anthem, American Express, IAB, as well as major ad and PR agencies.

I’m also honored to be frequently tapped for commentary by media outlets such as National Public Radio, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC when there’s breaking news about digital marketing or media.

And it will be my privilege to continue to contribute to the dialogue, the development, and the definitions of the disruptive technologies in marketing and media.

I’m also grateful. Charlene Li believed in me and took my career in an exciting new direction. Jeremiah Owyang supported me wholeheartedly and unconditionally as a fledgling analyst, and was an early co-author of a major piece of research. Brian Solis invited me to serve as editor of several of his reports, and to speak at his Pivot conference.  The brilliant and talented Susan Etlinger is another co-author and collaborator. We published new research together just last week.

I couldn’t ask you to name a smarter, more supportive or inspirational group of colleagues. The research team has also been exceptional. If I look good at Altimeter, so much of that credit is due to crack researchers Christine Tran, Jessica Groopman and Jaimy Syzmanski (so many names I’m omitting….)

What’s next? I’ll keep you posted. Rest assured I’ll continue to research, write and speak under my own banner in the long term.

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New Research: Content Marketing Performance

My latest research, Content Marketing Performance: A Framework to Measure Real Business Impact is hot off the presses (virtually speaking, of course). Please feel free to download a copy from the link above.

Here’s how my esteemed colleague Susan Etlinger introduced our project today, cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog:

About a year ago, Rebecca Lieb and I had a series of conversations about the emerging need for analytics that would allow content and marketing professionals to evaluate the success of their content strategies.  We discussed the predominance of “volume metrics” in content performance analysis, and the focus on linking content to conversion.

As we’ve both written before, that can be a significant challenge, for reasons having to do with attribution, browser complexity, and the complexity of human behavior in the buying cycle. So we wanted to take a look at some other ways that content marketers can gauge the success of their efforts.

The resulting report, “Content Marketing Performance: A Framework to Measure Real Business Impact,” is a look at six ways that content marketers can measure value. If that sounds familiar, it is: the social media measurement compass—which looks at brand health, marketing optimization, revenue generation, operational efficiency, customer experience and innovation—is relevant to content’s value as well.

You’ll notice that some of these case studies only include a few metrics; that is partly because some companies are reluctant to share their “secret sauce,” and because we are still in a very nascent state for content measurement. For that reason, we enriched the case studies with other metrics we’d recommend, so you can see how we might approach a measurement strategy to support specific business objectives.

 We hope this report starts a conversation on content measurement, and will be happy to link to substantive posts that discuss the issues in detail. As always, thanks for reading, and we hope you find value in this document.

– Rebecca Lieb and Susan Etlinger

I’d also like to take a moment to extend deep thanks to Senior Researcher Jessica Groopman and Research and Marketing Manager Christine Tran for their unflagging support on this project.


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My Path From Film Critic to Digital Media Analyst - An Interview

Todd Wheatland just published a very in-depth audio interview with me that he conducted for the Content Marketing Institute late last year.

It’s not like me to post an interview with myself on my blog, but this one’s unusual in that I open up quite a bit personally, and discuss my path from film critic to digital media analyst.

You can give it a listen here (since I can’t figure out how to embed it).

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Content Strategy, Influencers, and Leftover Turkey

At ad:tech San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Marketo’s marketing team. Jason Miller and I sat down to talk content marketing. He very flatteringly turned our conversation into a blog post.

Here’s an excerpt of our talk – but you have to click if you want to get to the bit about the turkey!

What are your best tips for businesses that are struggling to find content?

Rebecca Lieb: For one thing, businesses have to start thinking like publishers in order to not only define content, but also to effectively use content. It’s very daunting to wake up every day and find a blank page to fill, blank air time or blank podcast time, which is why “real” publications have editorial calendars. And while the New York Times doesn’t know what breaking news will be on page one on Friday, they do know it’s Friday so they’re going to have a weekend arts preview and a movie section and a theater section and perhaps an interview with somebody opening a new play on Broadway.

There’s a degree of predictability in content that’s not only very helpful to the business or the publisher who’s publishing that content, but also to the audience. The regularity of these types of features keeps people coming back. This is why newspapers have evergreen content like horoscopes and comics, they know that readers will develop habits and pick up content for that reason. So in order to constantly create new sources of content you need a plan, you need an editorial calendar.

The second phase of this is for brands to think of how to recycle and repurpose content. Not everybody likes the same content in the same channels. Somebody might be very happy to listen to this interview as a podcast while other people just want to read the text. So why not make it available in both formats on two different channels? Or if you have a live event, you can chop that event up into content that will take you down the road for weeks or months in the form of videos, infographics, or blog entries.

Next: Why content is like leftover turkey. You’ll have to read that part over on Marketo’s blog.

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Talking All Facebook, All the Time

It's not often (well, to date not ever) that I post links to my mentions in the media, but last night's Facebook S-1 filing broke all  personal records for media commentary. These reporters and editors have done some tough work on deadline, so here's a little link love (as well as personal record-keeping) in no particular order of articles that contain me weighing in on many different aspects of the Facebook IPO. What a crazy and busy night it was!

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A Content Marketing Conversation at Digiday Agency

It's always a good thing when industry conferences share their content, speakers and insights with the wider world. We can't all be in the same room at the same time, after all.

This week at Digiday Agency, Pulsepoint's razor-sharp CMO Rose Ann Horan and I kicked off the day with a half hour chat about content marketing. Because my upcoming research examines how agencies and enterprises alike are shifting resources and strategy to meet new demands in a world shifting from media buying to content creation, it was exciting to take the discussion into an agency context.

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Talking Tablets & Super Bowl with Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble

Delivering observational sound bytes is part and parcel of the job of an analysts (and a very enjoyable part at that).  Even more exciting is the rare opportunity to swap opinions and observations with one of the most respected observers and interviewers in all of digital.

I was lucky enough to have just such an opportunity when a visit this week to Altimeter Group's San Mateo HQ coincided with none other than Robert Scoble paying us a visit. We've met in the past, but my heart sunk when I sat down to do an interview with him and reminded him my coverage area is advertising and media. "No one cares about advertising but the companies that sell it," proclaimed The Scobleizer, who said maybe we should hold off on talking until some big advertising event in the future, like the Super Bowl.

No interview? Oh noes! #Fail.

We continued on with an amiable offline chat, until I mentioned that next month's big game will be the first Super Bowl in which tablet use could likely dominate secondary media consumption. Scoble pricked up his ears and our interview was underway. You can listen to it here.

II also recommend listening to his much longer and more in-depth four-part discussion with my Altimeter Group colleague Susan Etlinger.  

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Content Roundup

Most of my writings on digital marketing, advertising and media don't make it to this blog. Instead, they're published elsewhere - and a girl can do only so much typing sometimes.

So herewith, a roundup of recently published thinking that's appeared elsewhere over the past month or so:

My new book! Obviously, this is the big one.  Content Marketing published in late October. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you read it. And thanks for waiting at least a couple of months before asking when I plan to write the next book!

The Altimeter Blog Some topics I've address on my company's blog include covering a Pilot Event at company HQ on the future of media at which I spoke with my colleague Jeremiah Owyang; Occupy Wall Street: Disruption & Leaderless Leadership; and thinking about how content marketing is impacting the advertising ecosystem, the topic of the research report I'm currently working on. It will look at how organizations are rebalancing to incorporate content marketing into their other marketing activities.

TopRank Blog I was honored when my friend (and interview subject for the above-cited research report) Lee Odden) asked me to guest post on his TopRank blog on Mastering the Content Workflow. It's a bit of tactical advice for getting a marketing operation running like a newsroom.

iMedia Connection For the better part of the year, I've been writing a fortnightly column for iMedia Connection. My editors there just invited me to write my first feature (or as they call it, "cover story") on mastering geek speak. It's practical advice for marketers struggling to communicate with their developer and programmer and generally more techie colleagues. Never have left brain/right brain schisms been deeper than in digital marketing disciplines, but there are ways to bridge those two hemispheres of the brain.

Other recent columns for iMedia include a guide to getting started with content metrics (based on a recent talk I gave at eMetrics New York); and avoiding brand embarassments in real-time.  

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, consultant, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.


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