10 content marketing trends to watch this year – Mumbrella Asia

Monday 14th, March 2016

Link to original article: http://www.mumbrella.asia/2016/02/10-content-marketing-trends-to-watch-this-year/

In this guest post that first appeared on LinkedIn, Josh Black ponders on the content marketing trends that will emerge this year in Asia Pacific.

I think it would be fair to say that almost everyone working in the content marketing is looking ahead, but very few understand where it is all really heading. If we look at the trends though, they possibly hold some clues to where it could be moving and what the future holds.

Xerago comment: It never ceases to amaze us how an entire industry seems to generally be clueless about where it is headed. While that may seem like a sweeping generalisation, the fact is that there seems to be more enthusiasm surrounding content marketing as ‘the next big thing’ rather than a genuine understanding of how to make it work.

Here are 10 content marketing trends that I’m keeping a close eye on in 2016:

Robotic algorithms. You have probably already read at least one or two articles today that were written by a robot. The Associated Press (AP) is already using robots to write around 3,000 stories a quarter and that number is set to grow in 2016.

The stories may feel a tad ‘dry’ but with deep learning and human interaction, the quality of the stories are improving daily. Best of all, these robots don’t take a lunch break, never turn up late to work and are not interested in a pay rise.

Xerago comment: It is only to be expected that technology would make an entry into this space. It is too early though to predict the demise of content-related jobs. What sets truly great content apart is the creator’s individual style and form of expression. Difficult for a robot to emulate given the current technology. A further issue is that while these robots are currently producing work in English, tweaking them to produce content in any of the Asiatic’s numerous languages presents a formidable challenge. We’re probably at least 10 years away before we see any significant change.

Finding Information. Google’s Knowledge Graph is getting better and better each year at locating the information you are seeking and predicting what you want. Ten years ago, before it existed, that would mean we’d need to click on a search result (ie., your companies website) to find information. More and more, we just get it straight from the Knowledge Graph, which means the quality of content on your website needs to work harder than ever before for its clicks.

Xerago comment: Google has been sharp enough to keep an eye on the overall customer experience. They have realised that if a customer does not find the information he seeks, he may not return. The numerous changes to the algorithm together with measures such as Quality Score have incentivised website owners to produce good quality content.

Visual content. Driven by internet speeds, smart-phone penetration and the brain’s love for visual content, expect visual content to keep growing and growing – great news for photographs, Infographics and Video.

Xerago comment: The Web has always been a visual medium. Period. What prevented it from being one in its infancy was the fact that we were still in an era of dial-up connections. And the rise of smart phones and tablets has only accelerated the process. The big challenge lies in getting content creators to ‘think visual’. For most such professionals who come from a traditional journalism background, the use of photos, videos and infographics has for long been as a support to the main story. Expect story-telling to embrace a more visual language to engage with the teen demographic.

True reality. ‘Virtual Reality’ will soon become ‘True Reality’ – CG (computer generated graphics) are being replaced by 360 Video which means content can be shot cheaper, produced faster and is more ‘real’. Get ready for VR to move from first-adopter gamers to the next phase of growth.

Xerago comment: This has already begun to happen. At this year’s SXSW conference, Lufthansa provided a virtual reality experience to visitors on the actual experience of flying Lufthansa. See here https://youtu.be/OPRcbFrp9Y4. Interestingly, Lufthansa’s spokesperson cited how ticket booking portals had made travel booking a commoditised and undifferentiated experience. It’s not surprising that an airline felt the need to re-affirm the flying experience, which is a core part of what they have to offer.

More noise. 80 per cent of Content Marketers will produce more content in 2016 than they did in 2015 – all that means is more noise, more clutter and a harder time cutting through.

Xerago comment: There is an interesting statistic floating around that nearly 80% of all Internet content has been produced in the last two years, than the preceding 18-20 years! The trend has been accelerated by a sense of fear and panic amongst marketers of being left out. Ultimately, this results in content that is produced without much conviction or thought.

Ad blockers. Ad-Blockers are on the rise… however, if anything, that should mean that high quality, well-produced and well-distributed content (ie., the good stuff) will deliver even better results for the brands that get it right.

Xerago comment: There is a popular feeling that advertisers alone are responsible for the situation that led to the rise and popularity of ad blockers. Publishers must take equal responsibility. For years together, both ignored the customer experience and focussed on serving their own interests. So, it’s not surprising that when Apple (which had its own reasons to queer the pitch) began to talk about empowering its customers with the option to block ads. Important that advertisers and publishers focus on delivering a better user experience.

Shop-able content. Almost every social platform is building shop-ability into its platform. Every image and interaction is a chance to move product. Never before has published content had an opportunity to directly convert consumers with the click or swipe of a screen.

Xerago comment: There seems to be a mad race amongst advertisers and publishers to offer instant gratification to the customer. Instagram is perhaps the most well-known example in recent months. After several years of not talking monetisation, the app suddenly opened up its API last year allowing advertisers the option to buy ads. It has also allowed advertisers the option to place links to their websites via a series of clickable ads. While these are likely to attract niche audiences, our bet is that the vast majority of online shopping is still likely to remain on the likes of Amazon, Alibaba, eBay and so on. As every marketer knows, it is the hardest thing in the world to change a customer habit once set.

Death of the second screen. The second screen has been the first screen for years now. We’ll stop using the words “second screen” in 2016 for fear of being jeered by our peers and colleagues.

11+ challenges. Facebook just turned 11 years-old and we all know, ‘you can’t be cool forever’. How the business adapts and changes to a changing world will be fascinating to watch.

Xerago comment: As Mark Twain once said in a different context, “Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated”. Facebook has demonstrated that it is a survivor with the right mix of canny moves and product enhancements to ensure that it continues to remain relevant in a post-millennial world. We’re yet to see what major moves Facebook has planned for its 2013 purchase of WhatsApp. In the meanwhile, it has begun talking about enhancements to its popular Messenger app and the likelihood that it will soon overtake the mother app. Expect to continue to remain within the Facebook ecosystem in one form or the other for several years to come.

Strive for real. Young audiences have always wanted ‘real’ quality content and they’ll go (en mass) to where they can find it. Welcome players like Wattpad to the party – a community where users can build and share amazing stories written by real people like you and me (not robots… yet).

Xerago comment: What audiences and millennials in particular are looking for is content that appeal to them or has value to them in some form. The days of one-sided advertiser messages seem to be on their way out. Millennials value brand messages far less than the opinions of peers or doing their own research. It is important that brands recognise this changing trend and respond accordingly.

Josh Black in the CEO, Asia Pacific, GroupM Content

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