An Introduction to Content Marketing
Earlier this month, it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that the Israeli-owned content-marketing company Taboola had raised $157 million through a variety of sources. By running and developing a content-recommendation platform, Taboola displays links to users at the foot of article pages on the Internet. Its content is already utilised by a variety of prestigious publications, which include USA Today, NBC News, Business Insider, the Chicago Tribune, Fox Sports and the Weather Channel.
The vast figure that Taboola has raised is indicative of the value of content marketing to contemporary businesses. Content marketing really refers to the production and sharing of a variety of content in order to attract and ultimately retain consumers. As this phenomenon has developed in the last couple of decades, content marketing has become extremely diverse. But the material involved in this technique often includes the likes of white papers, e‑books, infographics, videos and case studies.
Content marketing is a direct response to the extent to which everyday consumers have become unresponsive and even immune to traditional forms of advertising. Most people reading this article will have fast forwarded through the adverts on television, and neutering Internet advertising is something that the average web surfer becomes pretty skilled at rather quickly; hence the overwhelming success and popularity of AdBlock.
In the intensely consumerist society that we’re living today, people are subjected to a huge amount of marketing and advertising information, and their relationship with it is increasingly sophisticated. This can impact on all manner of businesses in completely unpredictable fashion. For example, in the late 1980s, football fanzines emerged, as many supporters perceived that the information they were receiving through football programmes was too biased in favour of the hierarchy of football clubs. This is one of the most loyal consumer groups one will ever encounter, yet they were unwilling to merely swallow information that they deemed to be too promotional in nature.
A recent viral article written by a teenager indicates the battle that marketers have to get the modern media-savvy individual to pay attention to them. This adolescent is scathing about social media sites which force users to view advertisements. Clearly traditional marketing has simply becoming less effective, and marketers have become aware that a smarter and more efficient way of reaching customers is required. And, crucially, one that is perceived to be less intrusive by the average person.
Thus, content marketing isn’t merely intended to be more effective than traditional ways of reaching consumers, it represents an entirely new ethos. Central to this is the important idea of actually delivering something of worth to customers. Content marketing represents a strategic approach which is focused on providing valuable, relevant, informative and accurate content; i.e.. Information that will actually be appreciated by consumers.
Content marketing is really the antithesis of pure sales. It can be defined as ‘non-interruption marketing’; delivering content which makes your buyer more informed and intelligent. The basis of content marketing is the notion that if businesses deliver valuable information to consumers on an ongoing basis that they will automatically reciprocate with both their business and loyalty.
But although content marketing has intensified in the last couple of decades, it is not a new phenomenon. Advertisers have used content to communicate information about brands and their image for many decades. One of the often cited early examples of this dates back to the late 19th century, when John Deere launched the magazine The Furrow. This publication provided farmers with information on how to make their farms more profitable. The Furrow is still in circulation today.
There are parallels between this and the efforts Adobe is making with CMO.com. This publication is intended to provide genuinely useful information to customers, and to hopefully inspire them to have a positive perception of Adobe in turn. In an age in which customers are far less likely to be swayed by the sort of advertising which has been the traditional preserve of companies since the Second World War, such publications are a valuable way to reach and inspire consumers.