Let’s get one thing out of the way: New media is where it’s at.
If you aren’t marketing through new media, your business or organization is at risk.
This is not buzz. It’s not spin. New media, including blogs, podcasts, web TV, social media and mobile are now the most effective ways to reach and engage fractured audiences. Mass media like TV, radio, magazines and newspapers still matter, but the landscape is changing in rapid and irreversible ways.
You know this. But you can’t take advantage of it without understanding why it’s happening, and what you can do about it. Any content marketing strategy begins by understanding the publishing landscape.
We’re going to the NMX 2014 Conference to learn how best to support content creators who are setting the trends in new media. The more we can help them meet their own business and financial goals, the more we can help the brands who turn to us for solutions. Here’s why.
1. Consumers want to be pulled, not pushed.
Do you want to be told what information is important to you, or do you want to go find it yourself? That’s the essence of push (ads and mass media), vs. pull (original, engaging, entertaining content and useful resources).
Even online, sporting a not-so-healthy 0.1% average click through rate, display ads don’t have it anymore. Readers come for the main attraction, not the sideshow. Over the last 10 years especially, consumers have less tolerance for the advertising sideshow.
So, to be found on the screen when a consumer is hunting for information, or to be present and helpful on his or her favorite blogs as the main attraction, is what pull/inbound/content marketing is all about.
2. Consumers live in the long tail, where their interests take them.
People read what they want to. They watch videos they like. Billions of page views are served everyday across millions of websites. And most of those sites and video channels and podcasts are not “popular” in the conventional sense.
As this graphic from moz.com illustrates, 70% of online searches are for “unpopular” terms.
But searches only show what people go looking for. They stay out on the long tail and visit their favorite places again and again. Even the largest sites, like Forbes.com are full of channels that cater to different audiences, which amount to smaller niche sites. You might have read our interview in Forbes about the FTC, for example 😉 , but didn’t care to look at articles about human resources.
That fractured readership also holds up across related sites, too. According to John Pettitt, CEO of Repost, even blogs that address the same subjects never share more than 5% of the same readers.
3. Content creators deliver value to consumers that advertisers don’t.
Ads aren’t news, nor are they advice, expert opinion or research. That’s a given. The key for brand marketers to understand is that simply calling your ad “content” doesn’t make it engaging. Content creators know what’s engaging, so it’s vital for brands to follow their lead, and not expect to commandeer blog real estate just because they’ll pay for it, or offer a guest post for free.
4. Content creators have earned their audiences’ trust and loyalty.
A study by Forrester showed that 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, while only 10% trust ads. That’s not surprising, but it does underscore how content is vital to effective marketing in the new media landscape. When a brand can earn the trust of a content creator and use that opportunity to connect with consumers in a helpful context, rather than an ad, everyone wins– consumers, brands and content creators alike.
5. Search isn’t the only route to “organic” traffic, nor should it be.
As Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land so aptly put it, “Google doesn’t owe you a living, so don’t depend on it.” Ranking high in Google search results might feel like the true top of the funnel in online marketing, but it’s actually just one channel.
It’s always interesting to us that SEOs find little value in anything but do-follow links from guest posts, as if there is no other marketing that matters, compared to organic search results. Google is but one channel, as is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, contextual links from related articles, content recommendation links through discovery services like Outbrain, and of course, direct traffic– the largest source after organic search.
Content creators get direct traffic. Again and again. Sites like Buzzfeed get so much from loyal readers and social followers that they don’t even seem to care about Google at all. It’s all part of the long tail where fractured audiences go and enjoy themselves in countless small spaces.
6. Like mass media, the new media economy still requires brand partnerships.
Content creators run a business model built on published content. While those who publish probably think of their content as the product, that’s not what they sell. They sell access to their audience. And who needs to buy audience access? Brands who sell the products and services that audience needs.
So, when brands want to “work with” content creators by giving them guest posts for free, that’s just not a sustainable model. Free content can be valuable, of course. We believe strongly in the power of guest blogging, and have built our own businesses on it. Not every content transaction can or should be monetized. But for new media to work well as a marketing channel, publisher sites have to turn a profit, too.
At the same time, brands need to understand how to partner with publishers to deliver sponsored content their readers can use, otherwise, they’ll erode the trust and loyalty that keeps that audience engaged in the first place.
7. But content creators live in a fractured market that’s hard to find.
When you can’t find where to market with content, you just aren’t going to do very much of it. At Content Blvd, we’re building a marketplace to help brands connect with the content creators they need. Of course, content creators could use more brand visibility, too. We believe we can offer both constituents tremendous value by giving them a single place to come work together.
8. Brands need more efficiency and predictability to spend more money.
Despite banner ad blindness, brands still spend most of their online marketing dollars on ads. Why? They don’t feel like they have better options. Not only do they have a hard time finding content marketing opportunities (see above), but they don’t know what they’re going to “get” for their money.
Content Blvd is working on ways to help brands invest more in content, and to see a solid return on those investments.
9. Content creators need fair deals to survive and thrive.
Naturally, brands want to get the most for their money, which often means they want to spend less. And when blogs are in abundance, any given blog many not look very valuable. However, targeting the right audience is the goal, which means that commoditizing the publisher sites they need most is actually a very bad idea.
Our job is to help content creators get fair deals from brands in exchange for content placements and writing opportunities that not only help brands, but serve each content creator’s financial needs, while delivering value to their audience.
No one’s put all these pieces together yet. We intend to be the first to do that, which is why we’re so excited to meet everyone we can at NMX. If you’ll be there, come see us at booth 604 for a special deal and a chance at winning some cash!
We’ll be tweeting as much as possible from @ContentBlvd.
If you’re a brand marketer with a question or comment about content marketing, we’d love for you to share it in the comments below. And if you’re a publisher with questions or comments about working with brands, please do the same.