content marketing

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Published! Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher

Funny thing about being an author - particularly one who's grown all too accustomed to working in digital channels. You spend months toiling over a book. Submit it, edit it, correct it, and then...you wait.

Then, one night you come home from a dinner party and find UPS left a carton in the lobby with your name on it. And so my second book is manifest: Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher - How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media.

It's exciting to finally hold a copy in my hands, but I'm more excited to see how it's received by marketers of all stripes. Technology has gotten marketing to the point at which it's no longer necessary to buy media to disseminate messages. It can be equally - if not more - effective to create your own media. Doing so, however, requires entirely new sets of skill sets and mind sets that are unfamiliar to marketers and advertisers. Instead of thinking about campaigns, they must think continuity. Instead of broadcasting, the emphasis now is on conversation and dialogue. Instead of interruption, the goal is tune-in.

I'm interested in how marketers will use this book (and eager to hear reactions in the comments). And I'm far from done with the topic. I'm excited to be able to follow up on the book with a research project I'm just embarking on, in which I'll delve into the changing organizational and resource needs of brands, agencies, vendors and media companies as a result of content marketing becoming a permanent and pervasive reality in marketing today.

I hope you'll consider reading my latest book. Please let me know what you think if you read it.  

Rebecca Lieb's picture

CMOs Want Technology and Content

I spent this afternoon immersed in a briefing on IBM's most recent research effort, perhaps the most exhaustive survey of CMOs ever conducted. In a four month period, the company interviewed over 1,700 CMOs in 64 countries to learn more about their priorities and their pain points. The full report is available for download (registration required).

There are many fascinating insights in the report, as well as much information that's validating, if unsurprising (CMOs feel they need to better understand social media, data, and technology in general, for example). Two tables are of particular interest given the rise of content marketing and social media.

When asked in which areas they plan to increase the use of technology, responses are overwhelmingly geared toward content-oriented initiatives. Social media, content management, tablet applications - all these are heavily oriented toward the creation of content, not advertising and not direct marketing. SEO made the list, but search advertising didn't. Less than half plan to invest in more email technology - unthinkable a mere five years ago.

Of course, this naturally doesn't mean CMOs plan to abandon email marketing (or any of the aforementioned channels). But these planned investments indicate that worldwide, companies want to create content, interest and dialogue with customers and prospects.

This indication is borne out in their plans for partnerships. In the chart on the left, red indicates near-term, yellow longer-term plans. Call and service centers, community development, and new media strategy outweigh more traditional agency considerations for either traditional or digital advertising.

These are all themes I'll be digging into shortly in a research project: how organizations are reallocating both internal and external marketing resources to balance their need for advertising with the demands of content, social media and conversational marketing  

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Future of Media: Altimeter Group Pilot Event

Advertising: is it dying? In an ecosystem where rolling your own media has never been easier or cheaper, why would advertisers buy media from publishers to spread their messages? What's the new model: advertorial; advertent (as one attendee dubbed it); content marketing? And hey, aren't ads content, too?

Last night a group of advertisers and marketers from all sides of the equation (tech, buy-side, media and agency) got together at the Hangar to discuss these and other very topical issues around the future of media and advertising. As is traditional, we kicked off with a Wiki Wall to rev our brains. Questions included: "In what year will advertising die?" "What works better online, ads or content?" and "When do you build content versus buy media."

There were passionate opinions, dissent, and even +1s.

Fueled with wine and lots of food, conversation began in earnest (ably facilitated by my colleague Jeremiah Owyang - also the event photographer). Some of the major points we touched on encompassed the following.

Advertising isn't dying but...there are more options. Roll-your-own-media is a viable option, and one paying off handsomely for all types of advertisers and marketing, from the biggest CPG brands to B2B and even mom 'n' pop operations. Yet striking a balance between paid and non-paid (more about that below) media is complicated. It means new skill sets, budgets and resource allocations.

Media is changing, often painfully A point that really resonated with the group was the statement that the New York Times has more Twitter followers than it does print subscribers. Ouch. When should publishers throw up a paywall, follow a freemium model, or throw open the gates? It hasn't been easy to monetize Google traffic. To make things more complex, publishers (not to mention media companies like Spotify) are playing in a Facebook world. That means lots of eyeballs, but scant tolerance for buy me/click here now-type messages. Some publishers, particularly in the magazine world, are establishing in-house agencies to provide advertorial for advertisers. But when advertisers begin content marketing initiative, publishers suddenly find themselves in a situation where clients are also competitors. Talk about disruption!

Content assumes multiple guises, resulting in a high level of complexity Where does content come from? Seemingly everywhere. It can be earned, owned, user-generated, aggregated or curated - or a combination of all of the above. Determining what to use, which goes where, how to integrate content with other marketing initiatives, governance, measurement and quality benchmarks is no mean feat. It requires new attitudes, resources and skill sets. Adding element such as targeting to the conversation, and addition channels such as mobile, only underscore how much there is to grasp...and balance.

The conversation was animated and lively - with a fantastic level of participation from the group. But it was the tip of the iceberg. Happily, it lay some solid foundations for my first Altimeter research report on how content marketing will impact the advertising and media ecosystem.

Missed the discussion? No you didn't. We recorded the evening's proceedings - watch the conversation here.

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Is There a Digital 180 Degree Law?

Everything old is new again. Apparently this holds true nowhere more so than in digital channels. When there are major, disruptive shifts in digital, the needle doesn't just move. It moves straight across to the opposite pole, 180 degrees.

Why does this matter? It's something digital strategists, marketers, advertisers, media companies and others must take into consideration as they look toward the horizon to plan and strategize. They must realize that in the future things will not only be different than they are now. They could well be the opposite of what they are now.

Following, three examples of the digital 180 degree rule.

Distributed to central to distributed Remember what started the internet revolution? It was the shift from network computing to desktop PC's, from distributed to central computing. It freed users from dependency on a server - everything they needed was right on the desktop hard drive. The past five or so years have turned that advance on its ear. Computing is distributed again. We live in the cloud and rely on mobile devices as much (often more) than our laptops. As for the PC, it's becoming something of a relic. The return to distributed computing changes everything about how and where users interact with digital channels.

Walled garden to open internet to walled (well, solidly fenced) garden In the beginning there was Mosaic and the BBS. Not a lot of people were there. The internet began to achieve mainstream popularity when AOL (together with competitors such as Prodigy and CompuServe) inundated consumers with diskettes that, once installed on a PC, promised a graphical online browsing experience, provided you didn't stray from the parameters of your content provider/ISP. As the "real" internet developed (and broadband proliferated), users ventured beyond these walled gardens into a brave new world. We're beginning to witness an attempt by some of the major digital players to, if not confine users to a content-rich garden, then to at least make it more compelling for them to stay longer, and stray less often. Spearheading this trend is Facebook, working hard to become a one-stop destination for all the news, media, music, streaming video, communications, photos, games, apps and etc. you'd ever need. Why go anywhere else? This trend may not go a complete 180, but it will be interesting to see how Facebook, and perhaps Google, influence (or hog) traffic as each strives to become a one-stop destination for almost all your internet needs.

 

 

 

Distraction from mainstream media to probable primary media  access point. Remember when the web was going to obliterate newspapers, magazines, books, music and pretty much every other form of traditional media? It didn't (and it won't). The 180 degree shift we're in the process of witnessing is the migration of all forms of media consumption to digital channels. Ebooks now outsell hardcover and paperback editions - combined (while ereaders are plummeting in price). Moreover, books are subsidized by advertising on some versions of the Kindle. As consumers cut the cord, TV viewing is migrating to digital, too. New platforms such as GetGlue and Miso make watching TV social, wrapping it up with promotions from retailers and media properties alike. The New York Times has more Twitter followers than print subscribers. Spotify delivers almost all the music in the world - free - if you share what you're listening to with your Facebook friends. DIgital isn't eradicating traditional media. Instead, it's turned distribution, consumption and monetization models upside-down.

In which area will we witness the next digital pole shift? Hypothesize in the comments, please.

All images licensed under Creative Commons

Walled Garden photo - mguhlin.wikispaces.com  Newsstand: Joe Mabel  

 

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Facebook: Socialize Media to Target Ads

In the Q&A following Mark Zuckerberg's F8 keynote today, he was asked how brand advertising will change. His reply? Ads are becoming more social.

Sure, Facebook will still feature display ads on its pages. Stay tuned for açai berry diets and special deals on tooth-whitening for alums of [fill-in-your-alma-mater].

But the apps featured today at F8 are media apps, offering Facebook users (billions of them) new ways to consume content: music, movies, news and books, without leaving the confines of Facebook.  Spotfiy, Hulu, Netflix, Yahoo and the Washington Post are some of the first to offer content within apps within Facebook.

Some initial thoughts.

Discovery & Curation: More media will be consumed on and within Facebook (inevitable, given the size of its user base). At present, Facebook is the fourth-largest referrer to content sites, according to a recent Outbrain study. As more content purveyors offer more app-based content within Facebook itself, that balance could well shift. Publishers will have to consider enclosing their content within Facebook apps to promote discovery and sharing, or risk losing traffic and eyeballs.

New Value Exchange: The traditional media value exchange has always been that users spend a portion of the time they spend consuming content being exposed to advertising. Currently, the WaPo Facebook app displays no ads (this could well change). Instead, if a user clicks an article, they spread it. Their friends are notified that they're reading such-and-such, encouraging more discovery and click through.

Users will be targeted by advertisers based on what they listened to, watched or read. Sure, a concert promoter can try to sell you tickets to Lady Gaga, if that's what you're into. But it goes deeper than that. In a conversation a couple of years ago with Spotify founder Daniel Ek, he confirmed the assumption that it probably (for example) makes more sense to market black leather jackets to heavy metal fans than try to sell them yogurt drinks. You get the idea.

Changing Media Consumption Patterns: With Facebook's ginormous user base, it's going to be interesting to see how content consumption patterns shift. Apps are becoming sophisticated; they "learn" what individual users like and display content accordingly. Friends and connections become one anothers' content curators. Will users become overwhelmed by the flow, or embrace purportedly more targeted content? Will this accelerate or put the brakes on a growing degree of social media fatigue?

Only time will tell.

Content/App Marketing: These days, brands are as much publishers as publishers are. Expect them (particularly lifestyle brands) to jump into the content creation business with both feet. Not that they haven't already, but apps will now become an urgently compelling channel for branded and utility content.

Facebook is saying they have no plans for an app store at present. They're trusting users to recommend apps to one another. As advertisers get into the game, they'll likely push to change this rather than rely exclusively on word-of-mouth. Expect display campaigns to feature get-the-app calls to action, too.

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How Do You Measure Content Marketing?

Content marketing: what are you measuring? And why?

I couldn't be happier that Jim Sterne's eMetrics Summit will at last come to New York, and am honored to be speaking at the event. The session is entitled Congratulations, You're a Publisher! Content Marketing Metrics.

My hypothesis is that content marketing is, essentially, publishing. To measure its effectiveness marketers must rely on many of the metrics and benchmarks publishers look to: page views, time on page, "engagement" (yeah, whatever that is), repeat visits, and, of course, visitors who take desired actions. Some companies, such as Eloqua, are able to directly attribute millions of dollars in revenue to downloads of their eBooks.

That's where we come back to the question at the beginning of this post. If you're marketing with content, whether on your own web site or in social media channels, let me know in the comments or via email if you prefer what you measure, why, and how. This can apply to your own content, of course, or even metrics used around user-generated content about and around your brand, products and services.

Thanks in advance for your input. And if you're at eMetrics next month, hope you'll say hi.

[amazon asin=0789748371&text=Content Marketing&template=carousel]    

Rebecca Lieb

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

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