Content marketing has shown that it’s here to stay. With brands and their agencies taking an increasingly content-centric mindset into their innermost strategic planning considerations, content has essentially carved out a role as the substance of digital marketing. Whether delivered via social media, email, mobile or splashy media campaigns, there simply is no activation to be had without compelling content to fuel it. But content marketing as we know it is poised for radical change over the next 12 months. So much change, in fact, that it might just look completely different this time next year.

Content marketers should be familiar with and planning for these three important forces of change:

1. Native is eating itself

With Facebook, Flipboard–and now Apple–developing their own content consumption experiences, these three important windows into news and information are pushing media companies to publish content in their respective native formats. This change was cemented with Apple’s recent announcement that it would transition its Newsstand “folder” into a full-fledged news aggregation and consumption app called “News”.

The ramifications for this evolutionary step are significant and spark critical questions.

  • How will that fancy native campaign sold by The New York Times, BuzzFeed and others translate into Apple’s new world of content consumption?
  • How will Apple, Facebook and others manage native trafficking, disclosures, KPI measurement and other important executional considerations that publishers care about and that matter for brands?

2. The Internet of different things

The Internet of things — that fabulous vision of refrigerators, toasters and coffee cups all playfully pinging each other in a never-ending digital dance – is still evolving and hasn’t panned out just yet. But there are key intermediate steps on the path to that destination that are starting to become worthwhile considerations relative to content marketing. For instance, with the smashing IPO of FitBit, the launch of Apple Watch, the continuing march of Nest devices into homes, and more specific applications like Automatic’s car API platform, we are starting to see what might be an adolescent precursor IoT materializing.

Progressive marketers are contemplating how they can leverage this still young area of technology. They’re asking questions like: What is my promotion opportunity for this platform? What is my content delivery opportunity? And what is my data or insights opportunity?

The most sophisticated and well-heeled marketers are formulating and, in some cases, funding the evolutionary path to mainstream legitimacy, envisioning what the future state of these platforms and their inherent opportunities look like, and helping to actualize them.

For example, Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant, Echo, provides answers to a wide range of questions and “learns” your likes and dislikes as you interact with it. A user may have “asked” Echo to create to-do or shopping lists, inquired about the weather or travel directions, read or watched news, shopped for music or listened to the radio, and Echo will, in turn, make personalized recommendations based on the data and insights it has gleaned from your history, going so far as to suggest items you may want to purchase.

3. Marketing stack convergence

As marketers continue experimenting with new channels — and more fully adopting the ones that work — they’re interested in making their digital efforts operate in an integrated way. The days of content marketing, display advertising, social marketing, email and mobile working in loose connection with each other are coming to an end. Marketers want all of their efforts to be operating off of a federated view of the user — a master set of data that enables tight coordination of activities between channels. For content marketing this means personalizing content served on a microsite based on a user’s history interacting with content delivered in an email or via a social feed.

Connecting the various activation channels for content back to that master profile — and to each other — will unify today’s marketing orchestration capabilities with content marketing in a way that is more real-time, automatically personalized and anticipates every user’s needs and interests relative to content.

But these three areas of change aren’t the only hotspots we can expect to impact the evolution of content marketing. With the continuing stream of “next big things” and events like CES and SXSW lurking around the corner, even more striking developments are sure to make a difference in how effective content marketing is done. For now, be sure to keep one eye on your shiny new smartwatch for notifications about when the next potential sea change is going to take place.