The usage of “content marketing” in Google Search. Snapshot taken June 2012.
Not a day goes by that I don’t get a question from someone asking why content marketing is taking off like it is.
How long will content marketing last?
When will the party end?
A Correction Period
If you follow the stock market at all, then you understand what a correction is. Technically, a correction in the stock market happens when stocks (as a whole) decline at least 10% over a relatively short period of time, usually after a nice run up in stocks (called a bull market).
Over the last fifty years, we’ve seen (for the most part), a bull market in paid media. The majority of marketing programs revolved around paid media of some kind. Even today, many marketing campaigns on the consumer side center around the 30-second spot.
When I worked at Penton Media in the early 2000s, I had the opportunity to discuss marketing budgets with a number of B2B marketing executives. Lots of investment in trade show exhibits, print advertising, and sponsorships. The remaining went to public relations. The pennies on the floor went to owned media.
It was clear back then and it is even clearer today: most brands were (are) overweight in paid media and underweight in owned media. The movement (ah, revolution) of content marketing is a necessary correction in the marketplace.
Reasons for the Shift
There are many reasons for this correction. Here’s a few to chew on.
- No Technology Barriers – In the past, the publishing process has been complex and expensive. Today, anyone can publish for free in five minutes (seconds) or less.
- Talent Availability – Journalists are no longer wary of working on the client-side. I recently did a workshop for 13 technology companies. Each one of them had an open position for an in-house journalist, managing editor or content marketing director. Today, these positions are being filled by journalists who have made the move from the traditional media side. This trend is just getting started.
- Content Acceptance - You don’t have to be the Wall Street Journal to have your content be engaged with and shared. Consumers are making a decision on the spot as to what is credible and what is not.
- Social Media – Social media doesn’t work for most brands without valuable, consistent and compelling information creation and distribution. If brands want to be successful in social media, they need to tell compelling stories.
- Google – Google’s Penguin and Panda updates are clear: content shared from credible sources is key to being found in search. If you want to be found in search engines today, it’s almost impossible to game the system without a solid content marketing strategy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a traditional marketing hater. I believe that an integrated program of paid, earned and owned media works best. But, simply put, most of us are still overweight in paid media. Until we see more substantial resources shift to the owned media side of the house, the correction will continue.