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SearchLove San Diego 2017 | Tom Critchlow | The State of Content

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It’s time for a look at the landscape of content in 2017. Tom has worked with content businesses large and small, and will walk through the trends and technologies that shape content distribution today. Looking at different platforms, business models and influencers, there will be insights for anyone who publishes content to the web.

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SearchLove San Diego 2017 | Tom Critchlow | The State of Content

  1. 1. The State of Content Feb 2017 By Tom Critchlow
  2. 2. Outsourced SEO to India in 2006, joined Distilled in 2008, moved to NYC in 2011 and went all-in on content strategy. Joined Google in 2012 and ran innovation projects, TV ad campaigns and content campaigns at Google scale. Quit Google in 2014 to build an independent consulting practice advising content companies on digital strategy. @tomcritchlow tjcritchlow@gmail.com tomcritchlow.com Who is this guy anyway?
  3. 3. Intro
  4. 4. In 2012 I realized content marketing was about to take off...
  5. 5. “ Tom Critchlow - The Time for Content Marketing is Now As some are lamenting the death of the publishing industry, publishing for brands is undergoing a revolution. And I said this:
  6. 6. But, I forgot to ask what kind of publishers brands would become? Would it look more like The New York Times or more like Buzzfeed ?
  7. 7. “ The Atlantic - What the Death of Homepages Means For The Future of News The New York Times lost 80 million homepage visitors—half the traffic to the nytimes.com page—in two years
  8. 8. BuzzFeed Distributed, which it described as a team of 20 staffers who would “make original content solely for platforms like Tumblr, Imgur, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and messaging apps.” In other words, a team of people producing content that will never even appear on buzzfeed.com. “ NiemanLab - A wave of distributed content is coming — will publishers sink or swim?
  9. 9. Of which 94% are on Facebook - looks like the Buzzfeed distributed strategy is scaling well. Buzzfeed Tasty, launched in 2015 received 1.6 billion video views in January 2017. Each video averaged 15mm views 30 days after publishing. Source: Tubular Labs Buzzfeed Tasty had 1.6 Billion video views… in January 2017
  10. 10. All told, a series of three sponsored clips reached 369 million people with 310 million views and 1.8 million shares. Newell paid in the mid six-figures for the flight. Source And they’re selling cross-platform native ads that work
  11. 11. tastybook.com Oh and by the way, they created one of the best selling recipe books ever
  12. 12. 1. Who is making content? Where does content come from?
  13. 13. Bloggers Independent voices, niche sites, passion projects and of course classic bloggers Content is made by... Brands Brands like GE, Redbull, Nike, IBM and more generate large volumes of content Publishers The media industry still dominates the narrative online for the most part. Platforms Consumers posting content on platforms (not just Facebook) faster than we’ve ever seen.
  14. 14. 247 personal finance blogs started in 2016 - source Blogging (like SEO) is not dead. It’s changed but still alive and kicking
  15. 15. Brands are launching into content marketing like no tomorrow 2017 B2B content marketing trends 89% 86% Percentage of B2B marketers using content marketing Percentage of B2C marketers using content marketing 2017 B2C content marketing trends
  16. 16. And the media is “having a moment” as it scales up... The Atlantic - How Many Stories Do Newspapers Publish Per Day?
  17. 17. Consumers produce content in staggering quantities
  18. 18. And this content is starting to get harnessed by brands & platforms Source: Olapic
  19. 19. 2. How is content made? The business models of content are changing faster than ever
  20. 20. Content gets made because there’s a business model to support it.
  21. 21. And the ways to monetize content are shifting dramatically
  22. 22. And so the ways to monetize content are changing too... source
  23. 23. “ Gabe Leydon - CEO Machine Zone - source [media] buyers are going to get more sophisticated and everything is going to get repriced Importantly, almost no one thinks display ads are the future...
  24. 24. So we’re going to see new forms of advertising, including native ads, explode Native advertising is estimated to reach around 75 percent of The Atlantic’s ad revenue this year “ Digiday - How sponsored content drives 60% of the Atlantic’s ad revenue
  25. 25. In Dec. Gawker founder and Chief Executive Nick Denton told the WSJ that in 2014 Gawker’s e-commerce business generated $150 million in sales, and about $10 million of revenue for Gawker -- just under a quarter of the company’s $44.3 million total revenue. “ WSJ - Vox to join other media companies in ecommerce push Commercial editor is the brand new oldest digital job around
  26. 26. Expect this space to heat up - the NYT acquired the Wirecutter to double down
  27. 27. And new kinds of people good at making content selling content. source (psst you’ve all read their content marketing handbook too right?)
  28. 28. What modern marketers need from content today is not one-off tactics. They need to find agencies who can layer on strategy and communications planning to create larger platforms that are integrated into a cohesive strategic go-to-market plan. While the traditional ad world is mulling the concept of a content AOR “ Lindsey Slaby - It’s time to get a content agency of record
  29. 29. A sweeping wave of acquisitions has decimated the ranks of independent agencies and formed two clashing clans. On the one side are the giants of advertising and marketing and on the other the titans of management consultancy. Meanwhile the market over which they are fighting is in the midst of a multi-faceted existential crisis. Management consultants are disrupting the ad agency world. “ Jules Ehrhardt - State of the digital nation 2016
  30. 30. Partly because buying power is shifting in organizations as technology matures “ Avi Dan - Consultants are eating the ad agencies three martini lunch It is not difficult to understand what is attracting management consultants into marketing services: By 2017, Gartner, the technology research company, estimates that the largest portion of a company's IT spend will be controlled by the CMO instead of the CIO, from data and analytics to front and back-end IT spend. The management consultancies see the future of technology spend coming from the CMO. This is what they are after.
  31. 31. The “Creative content” that the SEO industry creates has evolved...
  32. 32. And the gold standards of interactive data viz is on par with the best source
  33. 33. Meanwhile a single talented interactive creator can light the internet on fire source
  34. 34. But it took the New York Times 5+ years to integrate interactive into the newsroom 2007 The NYT interactive team is founded 2012 The iconic interactive story Snowfall is produced 2013 The interactive team starts to integrate into stories that follow the news cycle
  35. 35. And so much content on the web is still an awful homogeneity
  36. 36. Thankfully we’re seeing exciting CSS progress towards art directed articles source
  37. 37. The size of what we’re making is unknown until we know what we’re putting there. So, it’s better to come up with an arrangement of elements and assign them to a size, rather than the other way around. We need to start drawing, then put the box around it. And the real exciting work is seeing the web as it’s own fabric “ Frank Chimero - The web’s grain
  38. 38. 3. How does content get distributed? How is content consumed?
  39. 39. “ Ev Williams - CEO Medium - source There’s going to be a convergence of distribution points for media
  40. 40. That’s true, but new distribution channels are emerging all the time Digg Apple Spotlight iOS Google Now
  41. 41. “Refreshing the verge” - source And it’s only going to get more fragmented
  42. 42. “But traditional web analytics are fundamentally unable to capture what actually happens on the social web today; they obliterate its inherent tree structure.[...] In fact, clicks from Twitter represent only a quarter of the total downstream visits rooted in the BuzzFeed Twitter account!” Introducing Pound: Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion Existing analytics is unprepared to cope with influence in this new world...
  43. 43. This world rewards the ends of the smiling curve source
  44. 44. Content aggregators are growing and aggregating profits Content aggregators & platforms (think Google, Facebook, YouTube) provide smaller value exchanges with huge audiences.
  45. 45. While independent & niche focused sites are thriving Independent content producers and niche focused publications (like Stratechery) can provide a high value exchange with a focused audience.
  46. 46. But it’s not looking so good for those in the middle... While “traditional” publishers are stuck in the middle with small value exchanges and mid-size audiences struggling for revenue and audience at the same time.
  47. 47. So to compete, maybe publishers need to think more like platforms
  48. 48. Influencer marketing saw explosive growth in 2016, with 86% of marketers having used the tactic, 94% of whom found it effective. And, influencer marketing is still new but about to explode... “ Linqia - The State of Influencer Marketing 2017
  49. 49. 4. What about SEO? A few trends I’m seeing
  50. 50. We’re seeing the domination of search by aggregators source
  51. 51. The reasonable surfer model is increasingly less reasonable Facebook and Twitter first grew on the web but exploded on smartphones, their endless scrolling feeds positioned fortuitously for touchscreens. Snapchat, Instagram and Vine, which grew later, were designed first with phones in mind. On those services, activity is fueled exclusively by things people are typing, shooting or recording themselves. They owe very little to the web, in both senses of the word “ The Awl - Upload complete
  52. 52. In short, it’s very possible that Google reacts almost instantly to big traffic increases coming to your pages. Which is why links are starting to matter less. So what signal does Google use? “ CodeinWP - Transparency report
  53. 53. No one knows where the knowledge graph ends
  54. 54. And how long before Google gives AI-content the head nod? (psst - check out this fun demo of writing with a neural net - writing with the machine by Robin Sloan)
  55. 55. I think they have already actually. So long as the quality is good they don’t care. In November 2016, Heliograf created more than 500 articles, with little human intervention, that drew more than 500,000 clicks “ Wired - What News-Writing Bots Mean for the Future of Journalism
  56. 56. Meanwhile, for media orgs the truth is everything is always trending
  57. 57. Or, maybe they need to double down on niches?
  58. 58. “ Dan Gillmor - Google is going to speed up the web. Is this good? AMP wouldn’t be necessary — assuming it is in the first place — if the news industry hadn’t so thoroughly poisoned its own nest.
  59. 59. Some very large publishers are seeing almost 50% AMP traffic AMP Non-AMP
  60. 60. Sure, the poisoned nest - but really it’s all just a crutch to progressive web apps source
  61. 61. 5. How to win Some winning strategies & theories
  62. 62. Social media technologies collapse multiple audiences into single contexts, making it difficult for people to use the same techniques online that they do to handle multiplicity in face-to-face conversation. “ Alice E. Marwick & Danah Boyd - source Context Collapse explains why content is hard on the modern web
  63. 63. The problem is not lack of context. It is context collapse: an infinite number of contexts collapsing upon one another into that single moment of recording. The images, actions, and words captured by the lens at any moment can be transported to anywhere on the planet and preserved (the performer must assume) for all time. The little glass lens becomes the gateway to a blackhole sucking all of time and space – virtually all possible contexts – in upon itself. “ Mike Wesch - source An infinite number of contexts collapsing into one audience
  64. 64. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. “ John Steinbeck - source Steinbeck said this in 1962...
  65. 65. “Compelling voices and stories, real and raw talent, new ideas that actually serve or delight an audience, brands that have meaning and ballast; these are things that matter in the next age of media.[...] We’ll have to learn a thousand hard lessons, most of them centered around the idea that if you want to make something really great, you can’t think about making it great for everyone. You have to make it great for someone. A lot of people, but not every person. Joshua Topolsky - Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved Joshua Topolsky said this in 2016...
  66. 66. Attention has become aggregated through narrow channels (i.e. FB) Ben Thompson - The Great Unbundling
  67. 67. I do believe that brands with reader and audience connection and loyalty are the evolutionarily fit cockroaches “ Steven Kotok (Bauer Media Group CEO) - peak content So what’s the winning strategy? This is my favorite quote:
  68. 68. The NYT believes this too - a mission & vision for your content Our most successful forays into digital journalism [...] have depended on distinct visions established by their leaders — visions supported and shaped by the masthead, and enthusiastically shared by the members of the department. [...] These departments with clear, widely understood missions remain unusual. Most Times journalists cannot describe the vision or mission of their desks. Journalism That Stands Apart
  69. 69. Most messaging (and most brands are built on messages) suffers from an acute form of narrative deficiency: for no reason, nothing happens to no one. Narrative deficiency cripples almost all messaging campaigns “ Brian Dell, Director Quartz Creative
  70. 70. The businesses that stress a storytelling approach that prioritizes delivery through credible, authentic and proximate peer faces vs faceless brands will be more successful. [...] Franchises are reignited over and over again through prequels, sequels and "requels." [...] it seems our attention-starved world favors narrative continuity over clutter.[...] As more businesses begin to invest in creating their own content assets, they will also need to embrace a similar long-term approach. Feed fragmentation is real and they will need to adapt by investing in consistent signature content assets. We can build audience connection through “faces & franchises” “ AdAge - Why Brands Need Faces And Franchises in the Platform Age
  71. 71. Whether your employer is a publisher, a brand, or an agency. If you’re making garbage, help them do better. The good ones will listen to you and incorporate your expertise. In my experience, most of them really do want to do it right. And believe it or not, super engaged communities often want to hear from the brands who serve them. And super engaged brands want to provide communities with things other than just “content”. So if you find yourself writing pablum, narrow the audience to a core group of smart people who care about what the brand has to say. And then convince the brand to say something meaningful to that small, smart audience. Godspeed. How do you create better content for engaged audiences? “ Kyle Monson, partner Codeword Agency - twitter rant
  72. 72. Hire someone with real editorial experience - an editor in chief.
  73. 73. Thanks! Twitter @tomcritchlow Web tomcritchlow.com Coffee Brooklyn, NY
  74. 74. Appendix Random slides that didn’t make the cut
  75. 75. For example, a New York Times food article may be published as a medium-to-long-form piece on the website, as a headline with bullet points on the NYT Now app, as a one-sentence story on the Apple Watch, and as a standalone recipe on Cooking, not to mention the various formats required for platforms like Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter. “ NYT Labs - The future of news is not an article New CMSs might enable new experiences
  76. 76. The point was that a great idea, now, is boundless. Things are made -- some big, some small, some made by the public, some privately, some are liked, responded to, shared, edited, re-edited, appropriated, stolen, emboldened or bought . Achieving this requires a change in agency mindset. Great ideas must manifest. We can't stop at catalyzing this. We must participate in the complete journey of our ideas, embracing a mentality that refuses to recognize a boundary in what we provide, in both making and cultivation. I call this the new world of "infinite production." Infinite production is part of the answer but not in ad agencies DNA “ David Rolfe, Welcome to the new world of ‘Infinite Production’
  77. 77. Offline/online is the future. From a network of monolithic destinations... source
  78. 78. You may already know that Foursquare location data powers Twitter, Uber, Apple, Pinterest and 100,000 other services. Today, we’re adding yet another technology juggernaut to that list with the announcement that Snap is partnering with Foursquare to utilize our location intelligence data. And watch for Foursquare to bring this dream into reality “ Source: Oh snap
  79. 79. Prediction: buzzfeed microgames studio will be the next media format to take off