In 2011, spending in digital content reached $16.6 billion. Outsell, Inc. estimates that companies have spent $72 billion on their own direct-to-consumer digital marketing over the past 6 years. In parallel, while advertising spending is growing (+18% for the last quarter 2012 over the same period last year) most of this revenue is going to five online players: 55% Google, 11% Facebook, Microsoft 8%, Yahoo 7%, AOL 4%… leaving only 15% for the rest of the industry (source: Business Insider).
In other words, marketers understand that engaging customers requires to produce quality content. Brands, like Coca-Cola and Target, are spending more and more money on their owned media and content marketing efforts. Money that they don’t spend in traditional paid advertising. While publishers, in particular print publishers, have more and more hard time to attract advertising dollars.
“Buyers are voracious consumers of information. For marketers, creating brand awareness, preference and affinity has become about providing the consumer with compelling, useful content”, writes Tony Uphoff, CEO of business.com, in his blog “Uphoff On Media." But for brands, creating quality content is the main challenge, as Eric Hausman, Group Manager of Communications at Target, recognizes at the event SocialMedia.org, held on March 27th in San Francisco. According to a 2012 eMarketer survey, “creating original content” is the main challenge for 74% of respondents a long with “having the time to do it” (73%) and finding high-quality content (48%).
Publishers are natural experts at Content Marketing
Planning and creating quality content is one of a publisher’s key strengths. There clearly is an opportunity for publishers to offer new marketing services to brands around content creation and digital media, beyond traditional advertising. “Company and product brands need to have an ongoing narrative with consumers that is true to the brand, and that creates and sustains engagement. Content is the new marketing platform”, insists Tony Uphoff.
Some Publishers are already banking on the Content Marketing opportunity
Ad Age reported in May 2012 that The Huffington Post would be offering Content Marketing services to brands. A few months later HuffPo delivered Live Better America for General Mills. Read more here: Huffington Post Launches General Mills’ Branded Content Site.
The Economist now has a VP of Content Marketing and Strategy in Elena Sukacheva who leads a team of 14 people that acts as the Content Marketing agency inside The Economist to deliver branded content to companies such as BMW, SAP, Pfizer, Bank of NY Mellon and Oracle. Read more on Digiday here: The Economist’s Content Marketing Bid.
Les Affaires, the leading economic newspaper in French Canada published a Content Marketing initiative on Productivity with IBM in August 2012.
Content Marketing is clearly an opportunity for Publishers. They can leverage their ability to create relevant quality content and to deliver it to existing audiences for brands. In times where traditional advertising revenue is dramatically declining, branded content initiatives would generate tangible new revenue. Publishers would have to maintain a clear line between the newsroom and marketing services, but if done properly Content Marketing might just be their biggest revenue diversification opportunity for the next 2 to 3 years.