Will Native Advertising Be A Tragedy Of The Commons?

One thing can be said definitively about native advertising: It is poorly understood.

  • It’s advertising, but shouldn’t act like it (even though it should definitely be labeled as such).
  • It’s like advertorials, but also far more than that – just as media sites are more than web newspapers.
  • The media world loves it and loathes it. Bob Garfield famously compared it to islands of bird poo at an FTC workshop in December. But most publishers are ramping up their native advertising.
  • Readers say they have been misled by it, though millennial-friendly media titles like BuzzFeed, Mashable and Gawker are doing more and more of it.
  • Lastly, when a committee of the best and brightest in native advertising sat down together to define it, they settled on six different types, or categories.
Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight V: A time for branded data, surveys, reports and playbooks

What’s happening (that’s important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly* round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous “Fortnights”, go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week – send me a mail.)

IAB publishes content marketing primer
Set up simultaneously with its native advertising task force (see below), the IAB’s content marketing task force has produced a content marketing primer. It is by no means sexy or compelling for content marketing practitioners, but it does give them a succinct, 6-page tool to explain the basics of content marketing (as well as a tacit endorsement from the IAB) for stakeholders.

IAB drops native advertising playbook same day as FTC workshop

Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight IV: Some content marketing insecurity

What's happening (that's important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous "Fortnights", go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week? Send me a mail.)

Stealing content is in fact a crime
Blogger Mark Schaefer caught Verizon brazenly stealing his content (reprinting in full with no attribution, compensation or permission). It’s one of only instances of content theft he’s seen. Go ahead and curate content, but – by all means – attribute the source and don’t plagiarize it.

Content distribution space gets reaffirmation
OneSpot announced a recent $5+ million funding round to fund its mission to help businesses with a real, and common, problem: Getting their content in front of prospective customers. This is just the latest harbinger of a growing market for content distribution. Watch this space.

B2B buyers actually have emotions

Read more

Rise of the Content Distribution Space

This morning’s announcement by OneSpot – a company that helps marketers place their content in front of relevant buyers through display advertising – of series A financing to the tune of $5.3 million may pale next to recent multibillion IPOs and valuations, but it says a lot about a new space opening up: content distribution.

While OneSpot and Resonance HQ (which offers a similar service) drive content engagement through banner ads, native advertising or sponsored content puts branded content straight into digital publishers’ editorial mix (often with “sponsored by” or “sponsor content” next to it). Vendors like Outbrain, Taboola, AdBlade, Sharethrough, LinkSmart, Nativo, Media Voice and AdsNative are vying for a $2 billion per year native advertising market that’s growing by as much as 20% year on year.

Add to this the plays by Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that allow marketers to purchase visibility for their content in certain users’ timelines. For both Facebook and twitter, this is their only source of revenue for a growing proportion of mobile users, and it looks like Wall Street may be rewarding them for this mobile-driven success.

Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight III: On acquisitions, trust and beauty

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.)

Content marketing’s shot heard round the world
Nothing affirms a new approach to marketing more than the big-ticket acquisition of a technology company enabling that approach. Thus Oracle’s acquisition of content marketing software platform Compendium lit up the content marketing world this month. What will come of this? For one, vendors in and around the content marketing space will try to add Compendium-like features (if they don’t already have them). And the “content is a business asset” argument will get a big boost.

Beauty: Not vanity, but business

Read more

Great Content Is Not Enough

There’s a serious, but neglected, problem at the heart of content marketing.

Marketers and agencies have invested large sums to create quality content, but – in many cases – it’s not getting discovered. Audiences are neither finding nor sharing it. It’s not going viral. It’s not going anywhere. One CEO at a company that helps with distribution told me how he finds new clients: He looks for brands on YouTube with great videos but miserable viewing numbers. “Not hard at all,” he said.

How did visibility become such a problem?

Agencies, bloggers, and search experts counsel marketers to publish truly great content, regularly, to win search rankings and social shares and thus draw traffic. For many marketers, however, that organic discovery isn’t happening as quickly or reliably as they need.

Outgoing Content Marketer of the Year Joe Chernov (VP of marketing at Kinvey, and previously VP – content marketing at Eloqua) told me:

Marketers always ask me how to make more or better content, and it’s almost always the wrong question. The right question is: “How do I get my content in front of the right people?”

That will include paid placement and amplification, but it turns out this kind of promotion is only one part of a multiphase approach.

I just published a report on distribution of branded content. A few remarkable findings:

  • Brands can actually step down content production and step up distribution to get better results.
  • An ecosystem of vendors have cropped up to help marketers drive distribution of branded content.
  • The most effective promotions often come from doubling-down on past successes.
Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight II: Advertising is...unclear

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.)

Advertising is _______.
The head of the IAB comes late to the party that is advertising’s identity crisis. In all truth, I think he’s done a good job of summarizing some tectonic shifts:

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).

Branding e-singles

Read more

"Who paid for this content?!"

Imagine this scenario:

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).

An Advertiser Paid For This Content

Read more

Mini content curation masterclass: A fortnight in content marketing

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).

Retail + content = hard

Read more

16 Ways To Turn Content Marketing Into Business Value

According to Digiday, current affairs website Slate demands minimum $100,000 from brands to build an “advertising content program”. Forbes asks for $50,000 a month to give brands a platform for publishing content on their site. And many companies are spending as much or more on their own content sites.

Given the mighty spend, the silence around the economics of content is deafening. There’s the high-level question of content marketing ROI­–a topic larger than any blog post. But, at a more basic level, how many marketers plan how and where their content drives business value?

Call this the content impact model:

If marketers create and distribute content to generate value, there are two simultaneous and non-exclusive paths by which value is created:

1.    Intrinsic: Consumption of the content itself brings value to the brand, by making the reader/viewer aware of the brand, its expertise or products.
2.    Extrinsic: All of the value that can be extracted by a reader/viewer arriving at or opening the content (but not the content itself).

This post looks specifically at extrinsic value. This value is created or released by mechanisms that I’ll call catalysts of content marketing value.

Read more