Looks like content is no longer king

As Isentia walks away from the world of content marketing and downgrades its profits after the fall of King Content, The Content Brewery’s Malcolm Auld considers what it all means for the future of the industry.

One of the most common conversations in marketing circles over the last couple of years, has been how to replicate the King Content hustle, and flog a fledgling content marketing agency for an outrageous amount of money, making oneself filthy rich.

Hardly a marketer I’ve spoken with could believe Isentia paid $48 million for this unproven content marketing business. “Where is the value” everyone asked? Well it looks like there wasn’t much – value that is.

Recently, Isentia announced it was dropping the King Content brand after a $4.4 million loss in the previous financial year. Mumbrella reported Isentia wrote down $37.8 million and closed offices around the world.

And as reported in Mumbrella today, Isentia has decided to get out of content marketing altogether. It certainly didn’t get anything out of content marketing, so to speak.

It reminds me of the first dot.con when big ad agencies rushed around like headless chooks overpaying for website production studios that had fancy names. I sat in one meeting where a young kid with a very small company, but building websites for some well known brands, turned down a $1m cheque. He wanted more, despite the cheque being more than twice his annual revenue.

Suffice to say, after the dot.con collapsed, nobody knocked on his door and his business is still about the size if was 17 years ago and he’s still just making websites and apps.

But content marketing is an industry in itself, though Gartner’s Hype Cycle already has the alleged industry on the slide into the trough of disillusionment.

Which brings me to a speech I delivered at the NZ Direct Marketing Conference. As I’m curious by nature I asked the audience (about 200 marketers and agency types) the following questions:

  • Who wants every brand they come in contact with to deliver more advertising and an increasing volume of content to them at every opportunity possible?
  • Who wants more email in their inbox?
  • Who wants more notifications on their mobile?
  • Who woke up this morning craving relationships with consumer brands? And can’t wait to read the thought leadership on toilet roll brands?
  • Who has walked out of a retail store or café because you didn’t get served?

The answers were fascinating.

  • Not one marketer in the room wanted more content delivered to them by marketers.
  • Not one marketer in the room wanted more email.
  • Not one marketer in the room wanted more notifications.
  • Not one marketer in the room woke up thinking about brands, let alone wanting relationships with them.
  • Every marketer in the room had walked out of a store because a salesperson hadn’t tried to sell them something.

This is fascinating stuff, folks. After all, if marketers and advertisers don’t want what the content marketers and the cyber-hustlers are flogging, why do they believe their customers want it?

Taking their answers once step further, the whole audience believed the premise of content marketing – that brands should deliver content at every opportunity possible to anybody who remotely comes in to contact with the brand, but should not try to sell anything – is complete and utter bullshit.

Not one executive in that audience believed, by show of hand, that marketers should be doing content marketing. As consumers, marketers hate content marketing.

So if the industry doesn’t believe in content marketing, why are marketers wasting shareholder’s precious investment on it? It appears that content marketing has rapidly become a punch-line to marketing jokes.

But one has to wonder, why didn’t the management at Isentia ask these questions to protect their shareholder’s funds?

And why do I have images of the emperor’s new clothes, and lemmings jumping off cliffs?

Gotta go. I have an idea for an anti-content marketing, content marketing business.

Malcolm Auld is founder of The Content Brewery. This post originally appeared on his blog.


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