Put up or shut up: Why it’s time to go all in on content marketing

What ever the naysayers might say, content marketing is one of the fastest-growing segments of the global advertising industry. Lauren Quaintance asks why are some Australian content marketers asleep at the wheel?

Let’s be completely honest: content marketing is this industry’s favourite punching bag. It’s not always the sexiest work, none of what is really “content marketing” is going to win a Cannes Lion anytime soon and money spent on company blogs and social videos means less cash for all-singing, all-dancing above-the-line creative like TVCs.

No wonder everyone was happy to dance on the grave of the industry’s loudest, flashiest player King Content when it was shuttered by iSentia after an ill-fated acquisition in 2015. And yet, despite the many articles suggesting the emperor (or in this case the king) had no clothes, four years later content marketing is literally the fastest-growing segment of the global advertising industry.

How do I know this? A 2018 report from PQ Media – a media analysis firm headquartered in the US used by McKinsey, Google and Credit Suisse – shows that global branded entertainment revenues grew at twice the rate of the overall advertising and marketing in the previous year, surpassing $100 billion. Of that consumer content marketing (all the deeply unsexy stuff including, gasp, white papers) was the fastest-growing segment of branded entertainment globally with a 14.5% expansion to $15.61 billion.

And yet Australian content marketing is really still in its infancy. Traditional agencies don’t really want a bar of content marketing – the creation of written or video assets that put utility and storytelling above a product message – unless it’s part of a bigger campaign. Just search for “content strategist” on LinkedIn and the dearth of results ought to tell you something about the state of the discipline in this market.

And Australian marketers are still hedging their bets: 85% are doing content marketing in some form yet an astonishing 43% of them are doing so without any documented content strategy, which is a lot like throwing jelly at a wall and hoping it sticks. No wonder 76% say they are only “moderately or minimally” successful. Talk about damning with faint praise.

There are exceptions but when you look at Gartner’s Marketing Maturity Model for Content Marketing you’d have to say that most Australian marketers are stuck in Level 1 (Experimental) or Level 2 (Tactical).

Gartner’s Marketing Maturity Model for Content Marketing

In many cases they are doing content marketing because they think they should, to tick a box, but they haven’t invested in the strategy, expertise and technology to make a success of it. They’re still talking about vanity metrics instead of the kind of measures that will have an impact on the bottom line.

Maybe it’s something to do with the state of marketing in 2019 – so many channels, so much technology – everyone is doing a lot of things badly. In which case you really need to ask: why bother? It’s time, friends, to put up or shut up. Start taking content marketing seriously or try something else altogether.

Lauren Quaintance is co-founder and head of content at Storyation. 


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