Feeling like your head will explode with the amount of info out there when it comes to marketing and advertising? Jason Dooris, CEO of media agency Atomic212, has certainly felt the pressure so penned his thoughts onto paper in bite-sized chunks with the release of his new book The Digital Lunchbox: Bite-sized snacks for the modern marketer. Check out an extract below and read his interview with us here.
2016 in content marketing: The year the industry grows up?
Alongside improvements in data and measurement, content marketing is on the top of most marketers’ ‘to do’ lists for 2016. As consumption habits radically transform, creating issues for the traditional advertising model, brands are recognising the power of content marketing to engage with increasingly savvy and fragmented audiences.
But are brands getting it right? According to the Content Marketing Institute’s ‘Content Marketing in Australia 2016’, which was produced in partnership with ADMA, more than half of Australian marketers say they have a clear view of what a successful content marketing scheme should look like. However, only 28 per cent of marketers believe their organisations are effective at content marketing. This indicates a considerable gap, and suggests the industry still has a long way to go when it comes to developing content capabilities.
According to this research, marketers cite numerous hurdles, including producing content which is compelling and engaging, creating content on a regular and consistent basis, and measuring the ROI or effectiveness of content marketing. The next year will see brands develop their competencies significantly, with 87 per cent of marketers saying they will produce more content in 2016 compared to 2015, but don’t expect too many short-term miracles. The brands that invest and experiment in this space will be the most likely to succeed.
Quality trumps quantity
Atomic 212° research indicates that marketers are finally starting to recognise the need for quality content – it’s not enough to just throw content at the wall and see what sticks. This is, in part, a response to changes in Google’s algorithm in recent years, which give preference to strong, quality content above websites which simply cram keywords onto the page. In other words, a strong SEO strategy must go hand in hand with strong content.
But this is also a response to the sheer increase in content to which consumers have access, across all channels – in such an environment, brands need to be firing to get cut through. Content creators are stretched to the limit, often leading to poorly planned, vanilla execution; in a world where audiences have so much content from which to choose, this can be the kiss of death. One strong, engaging piece of content which speaks to its target audience and builds engagement with a brand is infinitely more valuable than a hundred pieces of poor quality content which do nothing more than fill space – brands should focus their budgets on doing few things well, rather than trying to be everywhere at once.
Successful content marketers such as Adobe and Red Bull know the value of engaging their audiences – whether it be Adobe’s standalone content hub CMO which stands apart from the brand and acts as an independent source of news and information; or Red Bull’s endless stream of highly entertaining content, from extreme sports documentaries, to a bespoke magazine The Red Bulletin, to a YouTube clip of Felix Baumgartner jumping to earth from space. Red Bull in particular stands as the benchmark of quality content. With global sales in excess of ten billion dollars (making Red Bull the hands-down market leader in energy drinks), the brand has been the ultimate content marketing success story over the past decade. Of course, in 2015 the content marketing hero was GoPro – the company has utilised thousands of hours of user-generated content to generate a marketing platform that audiences actively seek out – this is the Holy Grail of marketing.
Keep in mind that quality content is more than words on a page – it is well produced and well designed, it is video and audio, it is informative, educative and entertaining. In an online world, the key is user experience. For example, our research indicates that users prefer scrolling websites, rather than clicking through multiple pages, particularly with mobile web surfing. The Glaceau Smart Water ‘Drink Smart Water’ website is a great example of a sleek, scrolling design. Meanwhile, digital designers should take a look at Google’s new style language Material Design, which uses shadow effects to create designs that appear more realistic, through notions of fluid movement and depth. Finally, never underestimate the power of strong colours – in the past designers were limited to just 216 web-safe colours, but now there are millions, an advancement timed nicely with the rise of HD screens.
A time for capital investment
In 2016, the global content marketing space will be one of the most turbulent from a mergers and acquisitions perspective. New businesses will emerge to fill the gaps created by a growing demand for content marketing, in areas like analytics, mobile content, customer experience, video production, content distribution and elsewhere. As brands invest in content across the board, we expect venture capital firms to put hundreds of millions of dollars behind content marketing startups in the coming months.
Meanwhile, the last few years have seen numerous acquisitions in this space – from Outbrain’s investment in content discovery business Scribit, to Taboola’s acquisition of digital publishing business Perfect Market, to IBM’s purchase of SilverPop, Xtify and Tealeaf. In 2016, established companies will turbo-charge their capabilities by buying up niche businesses in the space, rather than growing these skillsets organically, in a bid to become market leaders in as short a time as possible.
With so many new players in the space, we expect something of a rollercoaster in the fortunes of content businesses in the coming years, as the market works out which operators are worth our attention.
Video to rule the roost
This is probably the most obvious prediction for 2016, but will be one of the most impactful developments. According to the ACMA Digital Report, in mid 2015, 66 per cent of online adults accessed online video content. Meanwhile, according to Deloitte, online video and audio will account for a whopping 82 per cent of all internet traffic by 2018. In other words, the intensification of online video in recent years will grow more rapidly over the next three years.
This fits within the broader movement towards on-demand video content, where audiences increasingly prefer to control what content they consume and where – other examples of this trend include the rise of services like Netflix and the proliferation of the YouTube celebrity.
This on-demand trend is epitomised by mobile video. With enhancements in mobile – such as larger screen sizes, improved hardware, the introduction of 4G technology and considerably faster download times – the market has seen an explosion in this space. For instance, according to technology firm Cisco, mobile video will account for more than 69 per cent of global mobile traffic by 2019. At the moment, most brands are simply repurposing existing content for mobile, but expect a gradual movement towards bespoke mobile content.
Ad blocking a boon for content
Until recently, marketers tended to see ad blocking technology as nothing more than a minor nuisance. But in the past year we have noticed a sudden shift in attitude. As audiences are inundated with content, they are becoming more discerning, and getting increasingly annoyed by disruptive advertising models which interrupt their content experience. Such advertising can have a negative impact on brand equity. This environment has led to a major rise in ad blocking technology, and marketers are finally sitting up and taking notice.
According to ad blocking measurement firm Page Fair, ad blocking costs publishers about $22 billion a year around the globe, while in Australia there is at least 18 per cent penetration of ad blockers. Large portions of Australians are therefore turning away from digital advertising.
Marketers are looking to content marketing, and in particular native advertising, as a solution to this issue. Brands will increasingly explore ways of building an organic following through experiences which seamlessly integrate with the user’s preferred content.
The importance of distribution
Content marketing is not just a matter of producing quality content and housing it on a brand’s owned assets. It needs to be pushed in front of relevant audiences – in 2016 we expect brands to invest more money into paid distribution and amplification tools like Outbrain. The best content marketing strategies involve a seamless integration between paid, owned and earned.