Content marketing is at a crossroads at the moment. The golden era when anyone could gain traction simply by pushing out a blog has passed. The large volume of content that is now being produced has put paid to that.
Brands and companies must look to different ways to achieve cut through. Organic growth is not enough. Page search is one possibility – as is using an existing publication with a good reputation.
The Economist and content marketing
Economist.com publisher Paul Rossi spoke about content in this fairly wide-ranging interview. It covered ways to generate income (freemium), how the organisation is looking at social media, and content marketing.
On that subject, The Economist clearly has plans to make more of it. In the piece, Rossi explains how the title has moved from white papers to video and events. It is looking to extend this further, he says:
“There are opportunities for premium brands to work together; basically, the silos within competition are coming down. Nat Geo’s doing film with GE. How do we do more in that space? Where and how can we put our brand next to others in a way that’s editorially correct? How do you bring brands together?”
Arguably, being “editorially correct” is the main issue for The Economist. The way to achieve this has to be by setting out clear lines of engagement and sticking to them. Logo and sponsored content titles are straightforward. The greater issue is how editorialised the content is and whether it damages The Economist as a brand. The same challenge is being faced by other publications.
The other side of the argument is whether brands are prepared to put up with this sort of interference. This is especially true if you want to build up conversions in terms of orders or even establish an email subscriber list. It is so much easier to do if the content is on your own site.
What appears to be happening is the creation of different types of content. So brand-building campaigns, like those of GE and National Geographic, may use publications. A campaign with an ROI focused on, say, sales leads is always going to be best placed on the company’s own platform.
Horses for courses then. Is there a best option? Yes, at the end of the day, no matter how strong is a publication like The Economist, you can’t beat building up your own site as a content platform. There you can distribute your own content and exercise your own editorial control.