Digital Publishing Top Stories
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7 pivotal trends in content marketing for publishers

The Content Marketing Association (CMA) — the UK industry association for marketing, publishing, advertising and social agencies — has just released a comprehensive report on the Key Content Marketing Trends in 2018.

This report was developed in consultation with the top executives from 20 companies at the cutting edge of content marketing, and delves into the details of what they perceive to be the dominant trends in content marketing right now, and the way the discipline has evolved this year.

Here’s a snapshot of the key trends identified by CMA, relevant to the publishing industry:

1. The importance of authenticity and brand trust

In an era of fake news, readers are wary of the authenticity of online content, and brand trust has become ever more important.

Robbie Black, Managing Partner, The Moment, thinks that the key is to move away from notions of factory lines of content and instead focus on producing quality content.

“The push-back has begun,” he says. “Consumers aren’t as gullible as we would like to think. And so in the future, only well-crafted, relevant, timely messages will gain any sort of cut-through.”

2. The continuing influence of automation and technology

Another major trend is the increase of automation and technology in content creation and distribution. By harnessing data capture tools, companies now have access to huge volumes of information on which they can base their content plans. How they use these data points to intelligently optimise content to suit the target readers is likely to be key for publishers now and in the future.

Sarah Lewthwaite, MD and SVP EMEA of Movio highlights the way that technology can be used to target consumers.

“One of the emerging trends for 2018 is using consumer data and insight to predict a customer’s specific content needs. What content is best suited to a person at any given moment? When are they most likely to engage? Which communication channel will be most effective to engage them? What factors will influence their decision to consume?

Achieving a successful marketing campaign is no longer about being the biggest, brightest or loudest brand on these channels, but instead, being the most relevant.”

3. The pivot to images and video

The CMA report talks about how a short while ago, publishers spoke enthusiastically of the pivot to video and how they were going to invest in developing channels on YouTube, Facebook and other platforms. While this may not have yielded the desired commercial benefits yet, executives still believe that video and still images are the most effective way to engage with consumers, especially on mobile devices.

Ben Wilkinson, Director, Bold Content believes that the traffic is only going one way.

“Young People are viewing YouTube more during peak hours than TV. By looking at 2016 and 2017’s stats, we can see that more young people are watching YouTube during prime-time TV hours than television. Due to this, content creators have used the live-streaming boom to tailor their sessions to prime-time to get the most viewers.”

4. Audio content strategies

Many companies are also working out how to respond to the growth of audio content, the report states. Smart speakers, like Amazon’s Echo range, have built upon the concept of voice control developed initially by Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Companies are still not entirely sure how to capitalise on the resurgence of the podcast.

Kim Willis of Cedar Communications is adamant that “If brands aren’t thinking about their audio content strategies, they should be. From podcasts to Alexa skills, audio now offers a range of brand engagement opportunities across the spectrum of practical utility to deeper storytelling. The only questions is, which approach is right for your customer.”

5. Reaction to GDPR

According to the CMA report, for many companies the first part of 2018 was dominated by preparing for GDPR. The rest of 2018 will see the dust start to settle and the impact of the legislation will gradually become evident.

Kim Willis of Cedar Communications thinks that one by-product of the legislation will be a coming together of content creators and paid content specialists ensuring that the quality content which brands create is seen by consumers.

“As shake ups in email GDPR, Google growth and social media algorithms reduce the organic power of owned and earned media, we’ll see content creators and paid media specialists working more closely together than ever to align content to audiences and media environments, and to ensure that engaging stories actually have the opportunity to be seen.”

6. Personalisation

The evolution from broadcasting to large audiences to that of narrowcasting to individuals will continue in 2018, says the report.

Christopher Baldwin of Selligent Marketing Cloud, thinks that the one-to-one experience of content is what companies need to be focusing on.

“The ONLY way to deliver true delight to today’s entitled consumer is to deliver awesome customer experiences. Consumers now expect personal engagement with brands in return for their data. It’s absolutely possible to do this over email, mobile or website. It’s the digital equivalent of the hotel manager at your favourite hotel greeting you by name as you walk in and showing you to your upgraded suite.”

7. Quality content

On the final point, the CMA report stresses on the need to move away from creating massive amounts of content to focusing on smaller amounts of higher quality content.

Brendan Judge, Planning Director, Bridge Studios, News UK, says quality content and advertising is what is going to come to the fore again in 2018.

“What we most certainly need more of is quite simply good content. Content that has to work. Work for the brand and work for the people who you are trying to reach. Because whatever cliché or buzzword or new tech is of the moment and “now”, one simple fact doesn’t change: there’s only so many hours in a day, and only so many eyes, ears and brains.”

You can download the full report from CMA here.