Two positives about making predictions for next year. Firstly, it’s just the author’s opinion. Secondly, people have a whole 12 months in which to forget.
With this in mind, we will boldly put our necks on the chopping block of marketing opinion and hazard a guess as to where the content marketing sector will be by Christmas 2017.
The year will be framed by the growth in content marketing, the increasing power of social networks and the general political upheaval created by popular movements over the past 12 months. The status quo has been challenged if not overthrown.
So, 2017 will see:
Return on investment
ROI has tended to focus on clicks, social shares and other forms of engagement. That might be fine for Coca-Cola, but in B2B there will be increasing demand from those with the money for proof that content marketing has a positive effect on the bottom line. We all know this to be the case, but there is a need for an actual model. This could see greater use of tracking scripts or more defined targets. Yet greater investment in content will require greater accountability.
VR is (still) the next big thing. But, as in 2016, it will remain niche. Using Pareto’s 80/20 law, we are well within the 20 per cent zone with regard to impact. But more brands will dip a toe in the water in preparation for the time when the technology becomes more accessible.
Rule of law
Expect a major kerfuffle after a brand steps out of legal line with its content. There are plenty of pitfalls, from libel to ‘borrowing’ a copyright image. A formal set of guidelines, similar to those governing the press, may follow.
As content marketing becomes more popular, regulation is likely to follow. Already the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (Icpen) and the US Federal Trade Commission have all ruled on greater transparency with regard to native ads and the brand sponsorship of YouTubers.
There will be a realisation that quality is not only more effective but cheaper in the long run. And quality is not just about one particular piece of content, it is about where it fits into the whole body of work.
Emulating a newsroom is the way forward. But newsrooms, especially in B2B publishing, are slowly being eradicated as publishers focus on the bottom line and cut staff and pages. Content marketing can and will fill the void. By the end of next year, employees in most sectors will find out about their business from content marketing.
Too much of a good thing
Lastly, a positive note. Is there too much content out there? There is certainly a lot of average work. In 2017, companies will push harder for more creative ways to make theirs stand out (such as interactivity or personalisation). On the one hand, this will be hard work for content marketing agencies. On the other – and this is our last prediction – we will be looking at some amazing campaigns by the end of next year.
Alternatively, go here for our review of 2016.