Four Predictions for Where Co*te*t Ma*ke*ing Will Go in 2016

As a onetime rookie journalist (I cranked out obits for The New York Times, hosted a daily news program on WGCH Radio in Greenwich and wrote copy for CBS NewsRadio in Boston), I have a warm place in my heart for my erstwhile peers (especially those who are unafraid to make predictions).

In today’s guest blog, Peppercommers Joe Checkler, who joined us from The Wall Street Journal and Matt Purdue, former editor of Worth, collaborated to predict the future of the most overused words in marketing communications today: Content marketing. Read on, and please post your content reactions to their content predictions on our various channels. Thanks…

predictions-624x755We’re going to try and write an entire blog post about content marketing without ever uttering the overused phrase “content marketing,” starting now: As thoughtful companies continue to evolve into publishers that straddle the line between raising brand awareness and producing compelling material, it’s easy to see where the world is going. Becoming an authority is about more than declaring, “I want to be a thought leader,” and writing something or posting a video. Consumers and businesses are much more adept at sifting through the menu of options to find what they like and what they trust, and all of our 2016 predictions keep that fact in mind.

1. We’ll see more sponsored content: A few years ago, top-tier publications like The New York Times raised more than a few eyebrows when they decided to use native advertising, sponsored articles featured prominently on their home pages. Well guess what? Print advertising revenue isn’t ever coming back, so the world has come to understand that trusted news sources need to give up some of their news space to sponsors. The Times’s “From Our Advertisers” section features visually appealing pieces teased by compelling headlines, from big-name sponsors with something to say. Whether it’s a NetJets ad that gives readers a glimpse at the business, or CA Technologies explaining the behind the scenes of the “app economy,” consumers will continue to get more comfortable with becoming more informed in a way that helps their trusted news sources pay the bills.

2. More companies will figure out social media: Even cable companies have gotten better at communicating with their customers on social media. And when the cable company’s starting to figure it out, well, you know it’s here to stay. Expect brands to continue using Twitter and Instagram to not only raise brand awareness, but contact their customers and would-be customers directly.

3. Brands will lose their fear of third-party content: Leading brands are finally starting to realize that audiences want different points of view when it comes to content. Unlike this Pepsi so-called content hub, which tells you everything you want to know about…well…their huge product-placement deal with the TV hit Empire. Thankfully, many brands are building content hubs that incorporate information from outside parties that…gasp…don’t even mention the brand. Potential customers congregate to brands that are willing to help them research their options, not force feed them one type of product or service. In 2016, more brands will include third-party content in their publishing strategies.

4. …Until they find out that most of it is crap: Unfortunately for marketers, most of the vendors who supply third-party content (i.e. content farms) have not cracked the nut when it comes to finding content that’s spot on and moves a potential customer further along in the purchasing journey. We’re talking about content farms that feed brands generic listicles and videos that can be found in countless other places. In 2016, it’s going to remain very challenging for brands to find a cheap, easy way to populate their pipeline with really strong third-party content.

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