2016 was very good for content marketing, but we’re just not satisfied quite yet. Two of the industry’s biggest vices need to be shed this year, and after that, there are three big potential trends on the horizon.
It goes by so many names. Unmarked content marketing. Undisclosed ads. Unmarked sponsored content. Non-disclosed native advertising. Here’s what we say: a turd by any other name.
When users find out that they’ve been reading, watching, or otherwise consuming unmarked content marketing, they get very angry. Which is entirely understandable. Now content marketing is maturing as an industry, it’s past time we see the end of non-disclosure.
When people see a headline that says Brock University takes a 21st century approach to graduate studies following a “Sponsored by Brock University” disclaimer, does anyone really read on? Does anyone really say to themselves, “Gee, Brock University must know something really special about graduate studies—after all, they published this advertorial in the National Post!”
Look: people don’t like advertorial. Content marketers need to ask themselves—honestly—if their idea is something they’d read. Our rule of thumb is: if we wouldn’t read it, we won’t publish it.
Back in May, Netflix launched Fast.com. Both the idea and execution are very simple. Low download speed can mess up your Netflix experience, so here’s a tool that exonerates Netflix and gives you something useful. Note, the idea isn’t original. You can even compare Fast.com’s information with their main rival, linked right on the page. But that will draw your attention to Speedtest.net’s messy, clunky design.
Simplicity is powerful. Our digital lives have become a mess of competing colour and information, and very simply presented content marketing can cut through that clutter.
People like to be informed. Major chunks of the internet, like YouTube explainer videos and Wikipedia and it’s brand-specific descendants (the largest of which is Wookieepedia) cater to the desire to be informed. After all, wasting time online feels less like a waste if you’re learning something. Even if it’s something about Wookiees.
Maybe that’s why we’re starting to see more content marketing with an informative angle. Stuff like Marvel TL;DR and Real Engineering is great, highly sharable, and speaks to our desire to be informed. We hope this turns into a major content marketing trend.
Smarter Government Content Marketing
Last November, Library and Archives Canada dipped a toe into content marketing with a series of images they created riffing off of the marketing for the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s fun and gives us hope for the future of government marketing.
Contrast that some government-based content marketing from the year before: Pierre Polievre’s stupid and terrible YouTube series explaining the Universal Child Care Benefit even though it was really a series of election videos. Arrogant, tone-deaf, deceptive crap.
The government does a lot of advertising. What they should be doing is a lot of content marketing, particularly given that their advertising has an informational bent and people like being informed (see above).