Here’s your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content. (For more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. And, if you want to get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week, send me a mail.)
Digital technologies have put the very definition of advertising and marketing up for grabs. Now, when a marketer asks for a new campaign, the response from the team is literally a question mark.
At the forefront of those shifts: An idea that advertising should be more useful and valuable. Content marketing winds are blowing down Madison Avenue.
How do VCs value content marketing
An interesting article in VentureBeat shares compelling analysis of VC investment in the content marketing space. Six investment buckets emerge. It’s worth noting that the top four relate specifically to helping brands get broader distribution for their branded content messages. (NB! I have a report coming out next week about distribution of branded content).
Earlier this year, we introduced the Database of Affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could be the Holy Grail for more-accurate brand advertising. And since then two of the companies we featured in our research -- Facebook and Google -- have been working hard to realize this vision:
In June, Google introduced Affinity Segments -- a tool that allows marketers to target audiences based on the products and categories for which they've expressed preferences. We think Google has room to add more and broader affinity data to these segments, and to do richer analysis on that data. But Affinity Segments blends multiple signals into a single targeting tool -- which makes this an important step forward from the simplistic affinity targeting most social sites now offer.
More recently, Facebook built a team to analyze its affinity data. MIT Technology Review reports that Facebook has assigned eight people to its 'AI' team. Their goal? To address one of the key shortcomings we'd identified in Facebook's business: its inability to bring meaning to its data. It's always been clear that Facebook has one of the largest collections of affinity data online; we hope this move will help the company better leverage that data on behalf of marketers.
Only days before the New Hampshire primaries, an article appears on the Des Moines Times-Courier website: “Candidate Chris Christie Hiding Past As Exotic Dancer,” and quickly goes viral, appearing in millions of Twitter streams, Facebook feeds, and email inboxes. Most people see the headline and shake their heads – “Politicians!” As a result, Christie loses the New Hampshire primary, even though the New York Times had revealed that the Des Moines article was a piece of native advertising paid for by a competitor. Christie’s campaign crumbles – from presidential favorite to footnote.
This is the kind of native advertising horror story that’s got old-school journalists hiding under their beds. They ask: “What happens when people don’t know who paid for the content?”
The example, and any horror story like it, is hyperbolic. It’s not going to happen. (And if politicians wanted to tar an opponent, there are far slicker ways to do it.)
In fact, native advertising’s been going on for decades. The original soap operas were native advertising. So are those boring “Invest in Tackyvania” inserts in The Economist.
The journalists and editors are worried about the skyrocketing popularity of native advertising online for a couple of reasons:
1) Online, it’s often not clear what’s a native ad and what isn’t.
2) They worry about how it reflects on their editorial content (and authority).
While I was undertaking my research for in-stream audio, one interview couldn’t be scheduled in time before the cut-off date for editing. It was with a company called Spectrum Medya, which launched Karnaval.com, a digital radio platform, about a year and a half ago. Spectrum is based in Istanbul – the intersection of where the East meets the West — and in many ways, it's charting where traditional radio meets digital audio. Karnaval has a hugely popular Internet radio stream and was recently selected by Wired Magazine UK as one of the 100 hottest startups in Europe.
I’ve included a transcript of my interview with Ali A. Abhary, Spectrum's CEO (Twitter: @alitalks), below for you to see how a publisher is handling and viewing these changes in the audio ecosystem.
Q. Tell me about your service.
A. Spectrum Medya is owned by private equity fund the Actera Group, which joined two and a half years ago. At the time, the Spectrum consisted of five terrestrial radio station networks across 20 to 30 different cities in the country. Turkey had state-owned broadcasting until the '90s, until deregulation, which is when we got chance to really steer two of the oldest radio stations in Turkey under our own control.
Q. How was the ad business for traditional radio before digital?
I read a disconcerting amount of content about content; you wouldn’t expect less from Forrester’s content marketing analyst. So I thought: Why not do something with it? I’m going to curate and occasionally publish a great little list of content links.
As introduction, here's my formula for curation.
Tight focus on audience: This is for marketing leaders who work with content in one way or other. If you don’t work in marketing or think about content, this will be of less value. My goal’s to give people who think about or work with content a list of recent articles on the topic, out of which at least a couple will be solid gold. (N.B.! I explicitly avoid the “16 golden tips for [this, that or the other]” types of linkbait posts. Duh.)
Process: I rock Feedly with a pile of RSS feeds from content sites, a private Twitter list of content influencers, a stack of email newsletters, and a host of other sources pretty much every day. I make a list of the best stuff as I browse. After a couple of weeks, I give each piece on the list one to four stars. Four stars and some three stars make the cut. Then I give each a succinct treatment and a comment to frame it. Serve cold!
Without further ado, here’s the best news, ideas, and opinions on content in the last fortnight! (P.S. If you want me to send the Content Marketing Fortnight to you next time, email me).
The month of September marks many new beginnings: the first day of school, the first month of fall, the start of football and hockey seasons, the beginning of grape harvest season (a significant event for a California wine lover like myself!), the new iPhone 5S . . . the list goes on. And when there are new beginnings, there are new learnings. This is why September is one of my favorite months -- for me, September symbolizes advancement and progress.
For marketing leaders, there is no better time than now to start learning about how to advance your social marketing initiatives. Most likely, you have been using social media tactics for some time now. And if you're like many marketers, you may find that you are stuck in a social marketing rut. Perhaps you find yourself unable to optimize your existing strategies or unable to get the results you expect from your social marketing programs. Or perhaps you have hit some major road blocks that are hindering your progress:
The good news: my colleagues and I have been working on some exciting new research this quarter that will help you overcome these challenges and advance your social marketing initiatives. This research will be published in our Social Marketing Playbook and will help you to do these three things:
As I get deeper into the changes impacting television and online video, their convergence, and the possibility of entirely new forms of video entertainment content, I'm thinking about content in the following categories:
Long-form professional video -- i.e., produced originally to be broadcast on TV
Professional clips -- news, sports highlights, scenes from programs
Short-form professional -- i.e., Maker Studios, et al, producing videos shorter than 30 minutes, specifically for Internet distribution
Brand videos -- i.e., content marketing done in video form, such as Home Depot's do-it-yourself instructional videos
Then there is the medium by which they are distributed:
Linear, i.e., at broadcast time
DVR, where the consumer takes control
VOD through the cable box
Online streaming, from either the cable/satellite provider, the programmer, or a streaming service like Hulu Plus
And, of course, there are the devices on which the content can be viewed:
The app economy is blurring the lines and opening up new opportunities, with a lot of new entrants in the mobile space, be it with mobile CRM and analytics, store analytics, dedicated gaming analytics, etc. A bunch of players have raised more than $250+ million among the likes of Flurry, Urban Airship, Crittercism, Kontagent, Trademob, Apsalar, App Annie, and Localytics, to name a few. Expect a lot of innovation and acquisitions in that space once mobile is more naturally integrated into digital marketing strategies.
On average, mobile now represents more than 20% of overall traffic to websites. For some companies, including many in media, more than half of all visits come via mobile devices. In some countries, such as India, mobile has surpassed PC traffic. Marketers are integrating mobile as part of their marketing mix, but too many have not defined the metrics they’ll use to measure the success of their mobile initiatives. Many lack the tools they need to deeply analyze traffic and behaviors to optimize their performance.
Thirty-seven percent of marketers we surveyed do not have defined mobile objectives. For those who do, goals are not necessarily clearly defined, prioritized, and quantified. Half of marketers surveyed have neither defined key performance indicators nor implemented a mobile analytics solution! Most marketers consider mobile as a loyalty channel: a way to improve customer engagement and increase satisfaction. Marketers must define precisely what they expect their customers to do on their mobile websites or mobile apps, and what actions they would like customers to take, before tracking progress.
After a month of haggling, snarking, and outright marketing war, CBS and Time Warner came to terms. While details were not disclosed (though this CNBC article has some intriguing hints) both CEOs -- Les Moonves at CBS and Glenn Britt at Time Warner -- had soothing words about how this agreement is good for everyone.
I think the winner is the future of online viewing.
Digital rights were the second biggest sticking point (after a roughly tripling of retransmission fees that CBS initially sought). Time Warner wanted a continuation of the 2008 contract, which gave them digital rights as part of the contract; CBS wanted a separate payment. In other words, in 2008, no one thought digital amounted to anything so CBS threw them in at no cost. Now both sides see enough value that they become worth arguing over. And by retaining digital rights, CBS is free to pursue that value by licensing its content to other services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and is rumored to be talking to Sony for its yet-to-be-announced video service.
Prior to this agreement, CBS had no incentive to think about digital distribution because they had signed away the rights; Time Warner had little incentive because they didn't pay anything for those rights. They have dabbled with TV anywhere, but it was a sideshow to their real business of cable delivery of video.
At an event in Berlin today, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Gear, a $299 smartwatch that improves upon the decade of smartwatches that came before it (Pebble, Sony, Metawatch, Microsoft SPOT) but still doesn’t give consumers a convincing reason to buy one. As expected, it syncs with some Samsung smartphones, showing alerts and letting users send and receive calls, and check emails and text messages. But the watch gets only one day of battery life, which means you have to charge it nightly like you do your phone (and having tested various wearables that have this requirement, it means you are much less likely to get into the habit of wearing it than a wearable with 10-day battery life like the Fitbit Flex). It also may not live up to the durability claims of other watches like the Casio G-Shock, although I haven’t tested this personally—again, a deal killer when it comes to wearables.