Content Marketers Target Publishers’ Revenue
Heard much about “content marketing” lately? It feels like during the past 24 months Content Marketing has gone from a verb to a noun, initial caps and all. I can’t open my inbox without finding some blog or webinar about it.
The trend is accelerating: content marketing as a new paradigm. An increasing share of marketing revenue is being diverted to this product. These funds are most often coming out of advertising budgets.
A recent survey by an outfit called DemandGen Report supposedly measured “business executives’ content preferences and consumption habits.” Ready for this? They forgot to include publications. Neither business publications nor trade magazines, on paper or online, were given a checkbox when they asked what executives read. Apparently business executives only consume content from “brand side sources,” social media, third-party analysts, white papers and webinars. Who needs reporters or reviewers?
Content marketing is about you becoming a publisher, not paying one. It’s easy, after all, to be a publisher. (Now they tell me!) Publication spending is looked down upon by those promoting content marketing as a product.
I’d read an excellent article written by Rebecca Lieb, who is called “a world-renowned digital content expert” by the Amazon page selling her book, "Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher." This led me to read her research report, “Content: The New Marketing Equation.” In 17 pages of conclusions by Altimeter Group where she is an analyst, not once did it mention publishers as a source of readers or as purveyors of content.
Fifty-six “thought leaders in content strategy” were interviewed for this research. Not one is a publisher. The report, like the book title, suggests marketers become publishers, not work with them.
Sun Tzu, or Bugsy Siegel, might take it personally and think someone was trying to “cut them out.” I’m convinced it is worse. Publishers are being forgotten; it is assumed we are not even players.
It is time to recognize the rivalry.
Content marketing is being defined as content that excludes publishers. Those who have been marketing content longer and more successfully than anyone are being hijacked by the social media mavens. We are odd man out.
How exactly do all these marketers expect their content to be found by buyers? They rarely say. Since online publications are excluded, the only logical source of readers besides social media would be search engine optimization (SEO). In Google we trust.
Rebecca Lieb was kind enough to entertain my nearly adversarial questions on why publishers are excluded from her worldview of content marketing. She is a pro’s pro.
Ms. Lieb sees some opportunity for publications but quickly points out, “some of your major advertisers are becoming your major competitors.” She asked rhetorically, “Who do marketers go to for (content marketing) help? PR agencies? There is no consensus now. That is the opportunity.”
An important insight she shared is B2B answers are easier to search than B2C. Great point. Search for “airport” and you are barraged with maps and tons of garbage. Search for “airport wireless ground support” and you find a wide range of useful information. That does even the playing field a bit.
When asked why publishers shouldn’t get paid as a content marketing channel, she said “that translates as advertorial.” This is a constant refrain among content marketers. Getting publishers to run your stuff, good. Paying publishers to run your stuff, bad.
Bill Flitter, CEO of content distributor Pheedo commented the other day, “I spoke to a well known traditional ad agency recently who lost a client to a PR firm (to do content marketing). That would be unheard of just five years ago. . . Nigel Morris, the CEO of Aegis Media North America, claimed content distribution is the new media plan.
“It is the early days of content marketing,” he added. Maybe there is still time for publishers to become part of the definition.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.