Content marketing is becoming an increasingly confusing space. The amount of companies building solutions for content marketing – ranging from scalable content creation companies, to content analytics companies – is staggering. The amount of venture money flowing into the space is reminiscent of the social media boom from the not-too-distant past. So what exactly is content marketing? One of the best definitions comes from the folks at Copyblogger:
“Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.”
Because of the craze around content marketing, we are seeing a lot of brands emulate the behavior of publishers by creating sites to keep their customers engaged – this is widely referred to as “brand publishing.” But while brand publishing is getting a lot of the buzz these days, it’s only a small subset of the content marketing industry. The infographic below is a detailed blueprint of what the content marketing industry is exactly based on my experience in the space.
But Hasn’t This Been Done Before?
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There are plenty of infographics that provide a comprehensive look at the content marketing space (Curata put together a great one here) — and many have done a very good job at it — but what we’re doing is a bit different. The following infographic maps out companies in the space, the customers they are serving based on the type of content they are outsourcing. Think of this as a map that matches vendors to whom they serve. What you’ll find is certain companies are focused on segments within content marketing, while others have a more expansive approach.
The main takeaway is that there is tremendous opportunity for disruption within the content marketing space over the next decade (not just limited to brand publishing).
First, Some Ground Rules
We realize content encompasses multiple mediums (including video creation, event-based content and infographics), but for the infographic below we only focused on content marketing companies that are focused on written content since that’s our expertise.
What are some of the takeaways from all of this?
- Within each of the five types of content marketing companies, there will be a winner. Content creation, curation, workflow management, distribution and analytics will each have a winner. We are already starting to see consolidation. For example, oDesk purchased Mediapiston, Hootsuite recently bought an analytics company, Oracle bought Compendium, and Outbrain is set to be the first $1B exit in the space.
- Different customer types have different needs. Purchasers of thought leadership content still tend to go with agencies, because they prefer to work with a writer they can iterate with on a frequent basis. Brand publishers tend to want an “end-to-end” solution where they have access to a workflow management tool, distribution, analytics, and other add-ons that helped them measure the ROI of content (Percolate and Newscred have taken the lead in this segment). High-quality universal producers tend to already have content management systems and analytics tools in place, and just need a solution which will help generate a lot of content. Similarly, SEO and product description producers already have measurement and workflow management tools in place, and need a solution that’s extremely cost effective to produce the content.
- The market is gigantic. Content marketing doesn’t work like software, where large enterprises tend to spend more than small businesses. We are seeing companies with under a hundred employees with appetites to spend up to several million dollars a year on content. It’s not clear who the customers are, but it’s clear that there are many. Because of that, we are going to see companies and venture capital continue to enter the space. We are still in the early days of the content marketing boom, and many great content marketing companies are going to be born over the next decade.