If I told you I had a crystal ball that could divine the future of content marketing, you probably wouldn’t believe me. So I won’t try and predict the future.
I do, however, have a reasonable internet connection (by UK standards at least) and a few hours to kill on Google, so that’s probably my best bet for prophesizing the great future of content marketing.
There are plenty of folks in the content marketing world making predictions about how the industry will evolve over 2015, and rather than wade in on the debate, I’ll be going one level deeper and doing a meta-round up of the round-ups.
Here are the most anticipated trends below, along with my own views on how likely it is, and how much it would really change the world of content marketing.
#1: Brands will embrace the YouTube generation
Joe Lazauskas (Editor in Chief, Contently) and Rebecca Lieb (Digital Advertising and Media Analyst, The Altimeter Group) both see video as the next big thing for content marketing programs, with a particular ideal that this will appeal to the YouTube generation of millennials, Generation Z’ers, or whatever we chose to classify tech savvy youngsters as.
A lot of the larger brands are already succeeding through Youtube, with great videos coming from brands like Adobe (see below) and Sophos.
I imagine these ripples will continue through, with other businesses of various sizes using video content to a similar effect.
#2: Brands will be more likely to hop on breaking news
We’ve already seen large technology brands attempt to leverage social events, with the ALS ice bucket challenge being harnessed by the likes of Samsung and EMC.
David Meerman Scott (Marketing and Sales Speaker and Strategist) predicts this will only increase with time and will also apply to news. It’s hard not to see this happening, with the immediacy of social media platforms filtering down to all kinds of content.
This is most likely to continue, and will no doubt continue to generate good results. Just be tasteful people. Don’t go hanging off the coat-tails of Ebola. Bob Geldoff has already proven that isn’t a good move.
#3: The term “snackable content” will die, being replaced by a focus on “distribution” and “audience growth”
Thank the lord. I can’t wait for people to shut up about snackable content. With distribution and reaching new audiences being the hot topic for 2015 according to Joe Lazauskas, all content marketers can stop worrying so much about our generation’s alarmingly weak attention spans and actually start trying to reach people with content (as we should have been doing all along).
Nothing would make me happier than the death of “snackable content”. But like a bad smell, these kinds of jargon have a horrible habit of lingering on.
#4: There will be a backlash against native advertising, leading to more budget for content marketers
As brands realise they’ve spent too much time renting an audience rather than making their own, they’ll all flock to the content marketing banner. Or so the perceived wisdom/our wisdom goes.
No matter how you slice it, a lot of businesses still have more cash than they do content marketing expertise. Though it’s more effective, good content marketing is much harder than chucking money at a placed add, so I’m staying on the fence for this one. The fence is nice and comfy.
#5: Personalisation will be the main step forward for content marketing
Doug Kessler (Creative Director, Velocity Partners), Bill Flitter (Entrepreneur and Advertising Expert), April Dunford (B2B Startup Marketing Stratgist) and Enna Bartlett (Content Marketing Strategist, Venn Digital) are just some of the voices behind content marketing personalization; and that many voices can’t be wrong. And it makes sense. With marketing automation programs getting more and more powerful, it’s only a matter of time before all content taps into the personal touch that native advertising so often lacks.
This should have been on the cards for a while now, and if it does happen, it could only be a good thing. When everyone does realize how important personalization is, expect campaigns to get much more complex and split between different persona tracks. You can also expect campaigns to be much more successful as a result.
#6: Content Marketing will be fuelled by analytics and judged against ROI figures
Why this supposedly isn’t already the standard, I have no idea. Finally, many prominent content marketing folks are getting behind the idea that content marketers need to actually show stakeholders how much of a return content marketing can generate. As a result, the focus has been on analytics, and how they’ll be advancing in a big way during 2015.
True ROI figures would go a long way to further proving the value of content marketing, and would change a lot of things around the content marketing world. That said, the use of analytics in content has been little more than a trickle so far, and I’m not entirely convinced yet this widespread adoption of analytics will be complete by the end of next year.
#7: Joe Pulizzi will start wearing purple
This one is courtesy of Shane Snow (Cofounder, Contently), and is quite frankly, an affront to all that is sacred.
Whilst I’m sure Mr. Pulizzi could rock a regal purple with the best of them, I could not take the betrayal against the colour orange. I’m pretty convinced his commitment to orange will not waiver, but should he falter, content marketing will be devastated forever.
Header image: “Round-up on the Sherman ranch, Genesee, Kan., U.S.A.” from Boston Public Library used under a generic Creative Commons 2.0 License.