Peak content or peak opportunity?

jodie sangster 2016In this guest post Jodie Sangster argues the market has now reached ‘peak content’ and brands will now have to be smarter and more selective to create cut through. 

2015 was a year that many called ‘Peak Content’ – i.e. a year when the consumer became saturated and overwhelmed with content to read, listen and watch. So in 2016,what does this mean for the future of content marketing?

I’ve seen the practice of content marketing shift significantly during my four years at ADMA and in 2016 I’m expecting it to go through another metamorphosis as it adapts to changing consumer behaviours – not least my own. The plethora of content out there has led to my own personal click fatigue and it is becoming harder and harder to collate and curate the must read articles, podcasts and videos.

On the slide

This trend, and my own experience, is reflective of last July’s Gartner Digital Marketing hypecycle which put Content Marketing firmly into the Trough of Disillusionment (a contrast to its position on the rising Peak of Inflated Expectations back in 2014).

gartner content marketing hypercycle

This precisely correlates to ADMA’s own research. Our joint annual research with the Content Marketing Institute 2016 Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends for Australia indicated that the percentage of Australian marketers who said their organizations are effective at content marketing dipped slightly from 29 percent last year to 28 percent this year.

It also revealed that producing engaging content is a perennial challenge for Australian marketers with 69 percent of Australian marketers saying producing engaging content is their biggest content marketing challenge and 84 percent saying creating more engaging content is their organization’s top priority for internal content creators.

So against this backdrop, how do you create content that is consistently delivering value? To my mind, the focus should be on the following three areas:

1. Less is more

First and foremost less is going to be more. It will be imperative to focus on quality versus quantity if brands have a hope of gaining traction in this saturated market. Implicit within this, is deciding what not to do in order to free up time within your organisation to deliver the type of content that will cut through. Content brands like GoPro and RedBull have led the way on this and provide a great case study in how to find a consistent, yet constantly innovative content identity.

2. Not all content is distributed equally

That said, simply developing quality content is no longer enough. Looking at Gartner’s Hype Cycle again, of particular note is that mobile advertising is well along the Slope of Enlightenment and making its way to the Plateau of Productivity. We know that mobile-driven (and to some extent video-driven) advertisers like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram are the beneficiaries of the spike in mobile advertising ad revenue because this is where the audience is. And this doesn’t show any signs of quickly changing.

Last week, media agency, Zenith Optimedia predicted that in 2016 advertising revenue will hit just over $13.5 billion in Australia, up from just under $13.2 billion forecast for 2015, with growth in digital primarily being driven by an increase in mobile advertising, which grew over 50 per cent year on year and by online video which doubled in spend and was responsible for almost all of the growth in digital display.

Consequently, we expect to see more partnerships with the publishing giants as content will have to move to where the distribution is.

And of course Adblocking has the potential to be a global game-changer for both the creation and distribution of content, something which play out during 2016 and beyond.

3. Experimental agility; Innovative opportunity

To truly find out what drives performance and ultimately value, brands will also need to experiment more frequently and with more rapidity. As we descend from the Peak of Inflated Expectations marketers will need to innovate in order to find out what should be created and how it should be distributed to engage and inspire and truly connect with their audience.

Given the pace of change brands should seek to do small scale experiments – test trial and tweak executions in real time and move on quickly from any mistakes. Marketers will need to be rigorous at quickly learning what does and doesn’t work and swiftly feedback that into the overall strategy. It is no longer enough to stick to develop a 12 month marketing plan – instead it should be a constant process of experiment, evaluate, refine – on a constant repeat cycle to ensure content is relevant, enjoyable and effective.

I should point out that I am not just speaking in the abstract about this. I have a vested interest in the evolution of content marketing as ADMA itself has begun 2016 by shifting to an entirely content driven marketing strategy. So we are walking the talk, not just writing about it.

We will be focused on delivering content that has a truly differentiated value outside of our core products and services. This will mean doing less, doing it better and constantly innovating whilst, critically, ensuring that we build an audience from it.

We no longer live in a world of ‘if you build it, they will come’ where it is enough to simply publish blog pieces to your own website. Consumers have moved on from ‘magazine’ style web consumption.

True value will be created for both brand and consumer if you build it and then deliver it in a way that is relevant to your target audience. It is only when you achieve this type of mutual and long-term engagement with your audience that you can begin to realise the tangible business benefits that content marketing – when done well – truly promises.

  • Jodie Sangster is CEO of ADMA
  • For the record, this article is not part of any commercial content marketing arrangement between ADMA and Mumbrella

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