Brand communities are making a comeback. Where companies once relied on their own message boards and communities to get their messages out, social media sites took over to a great degree--but now the tide is slowly turning the other way. According to Forrester's "Predictions 2015: Marketing Leaders Mix Data, Content, and Insight To Craft Brand Experiences," written by Luca S. Paderni and Shar VanBoskirk, branded communities will enjoy a resurgence in 2015.
By Keith Loria
Posted Apr 15, 2015
Just as the elephant is grasped differently by each of the monks in "The Blind Men and the Elephant," you'll hear a different take on the Internet of Things (IoT) based on whom you ask. That's not surprising because it is really such a wide-ranging subject. Here is an attempt to distill the essence, providing you with a summary and a current snapshot of this behemoth.
As you may already know, Amazon announced an uptick in earnings in its 2014 fourth quarter, while Google reported a dip. Amazon says fourth quarter sales were up 15% to $29.33 billion. Google too announced an increase in sales-ad revenue grew 14% year-over-year in Q4-but that represented a slowdown in growth. But if Amazon and Google are bellwethers of the digital content industry, what can we learn from these earnings reports?
By Chuck Green
- April 2015 Issue
Posted Apr 06, 2015
Back in the 1980s, George Carlin had a famous bit in which he said, "A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff." One can only imagine what comedic inspiration the late performer would've mined from connected homes in 2015, which have the ability to direct us when to go get more "stuff" or, alternatively, fetch "stuff." As household connectivity increases due to consumer adoption of broadband and wireless networks, homes (and the objects in them) are getting smarter. Products available in the Internet of Things (IoT)-defined as a state in which everyday objects are networked wirelessly and imbued with the ability to communicate without human intervention-now include an egg carton that alerts a homeowner when it's down to the last two eggs and learning thermostats that moderate temperatures in part by sensing when the home is empty.
It seems that Hollywood is starting to catch on to what many viewers already know: Some of the best shows on TV are not on a network; they're streaming over your internet connection. Shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black from Netflix have been capturing people's imagination for years, although major awards have often eluded them. But in the first months of 2015, one announcement after another pointed toward a sort of streaming content renaissance.
The digital revolution arrived and has settled in to stay. According to Comscore, mobile device use exceeded desktop and laptop use in early January, 2014 and mobile devices continue to see more use than computers. As consumers increasingly shift to mobile devices to consume content, publishers have taken steps to make their content more accessible on mobile devices. Unfortunately, as a recent study points out, many content publishers who think they're providing a positive user experience on various devices are unaware how poorly their content performs on mobile phones and tablets. Business and tech news sites illustrate how pervasive and serious the gap can be between the desktop experience and the mobile experience.
By Angie Dixon
Posted Mar 27, 2015
Off-the-shelf options may rule the roost when it comes to mobile enterprise applications used by businesses and their employees. But there's a productive hen with the ability to lay golden eggs that's gaining greater prominence in this market: custom mobile apps that are fully or partially personalized, tailor-made, and paid for by a company to meet its particular business or mission needs.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Mar 25, 2015
Amy Ruell has been blind since birth, but software programs called screen readers help her read web content-that is, if websites are created in a way that makes their information accessible and usable for her, which is not always the case. Sometimes, sites that constantly refresh aren't coded right, and every page refresh causes her screen reader to start going through the page all over again. Some sites don't have properly tagged headings or descriptive links to help her find what she needs quickly; others are too cluttered with ads.
In early March, Google announced its was breaking its Google+ social media platform into two separate products, Photos and Streams. Social media and digital marketers weren't surprised, many experts in that field say. "The effect of the breakup is it's making real what people have been talking about for a while, the lack of passion amongst the masses," said Lee Odden, chief executive officer at TopRank marketing, a digital marketing agency.
By Jean Thilmany
Posted Mar 20, 2015
About 10 years ago, in June 2005, Apple began supporting podcasts through iTunes and the rest, as they say, is history. The popularity of podcasts has ebbed and flowed since then-most recently flowing as popular programs like Serial, NPRs Fresh Air and the TED Radio Hour attracting masses of listeners on a regular basis. Marketers haven't been immune to the trend. While audio has, perhaps, been overshadowed by a rush to the development of video content over the past several years, savvy marketers haven't overlooked the opportunities that podcasts present-both for spreading their messages to large audiences to promote products, services and cause, and for sponsorships (ads placed within the podcasts).
By Lin Pophal
Posted Mar 11, 2015
Smartphones, tablets, and other devices have made it easier than ever to tap into on-demand digital music and online radio. But more convenient consumer access to streaming audio causes a conundrum for artists, content creators, and publishers seeking to be fairly compensated for their efforts.
Perhaps the only thing that changes more rapidly than technology in today's amped-up digital environment is the terminology used to describe that technology and its impact on consumers--and marketers. One recent example is the advent of the term "omnichannel" marketing, which many struggle to differentiate from another relatively recent term--"multichannel" marketing. Still, those who are most enmeshed in the field say there is a key distinction between the two, and it's one that will have an impact on marketers as they continue to seek ways of having a meaningful impact on the consumers they hope to engage. And, importantly, it's less about technology than it may seem.
By Lin Pophal
- March 2015 Issue
Posted Mar 02, 2015
Nielsen data supports what most already know: apps are in. In fact, their research indicates that, in the U.S., Android and iPhone users 18 and older spend 65 percent more time on apps today than they did just two years ago. How much time? On average, it adds up to 30 hours and 15 minutes a month. That fact hasn't missed the attention of CMOs around the country.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Feb 25, 2015
If you need further evidence of social media's omnipresent influence nowadays, take a gander at We Are Social's "Digital Statshot 002" report, which reveals that there are currently about 2 billion active social media accounts worldwide-equating to a whopping penetration of 28% of the planet's population, with about roughly 1.6 billion of these accounts active via mobile. What's more, 72% of all internet users are currently active on social media, and 93% of marketers use social media for business.
Big Data has been a hot topic for some time, but it has yet to realize its full potential. The term refers to extremely large datasets that may be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations; they're often too large to analyze with conventional computing methods. "Our lives are becoming even more data-centric, and Big Data analytics is playing a much greater role within enterprises as they seek to better understand their customers, their behaviors and growth opportunities," explains Durjoy Patranabish, SVP of analytics at Blueocean Market Intelligence. "Statistics have always served as the backbone of analytics and data sciences. However, that trend is changing in this new age of analytics that is more reliant on artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms, and unstructured data analytics."
Back in 1979, The Buggles prophesized the enormous power of visual content and nascent technology with their hit "Video Killed the Radio Star." More than 35 years later, video is still making a killing—not on MTV, but on virtually every screen connected online. To fathom how pervasive internet video's reach is in our country alone, consider that comScore's Video Metrix says more than 196 million Americans view online content videos today, equating to approximately 78% of U.S. internet users. In fact, according to a New York Times survey, 34% of Millennials report viewing less TV than online videos or no TV at all.
Ask 10 consumers to define "digital marketing" today, and you'll likely get 10 different answers. Some consumers may reference irritating browser pop-ups and spam, while others will cite YouTube tutorials and email newsletters. No matter what form it takes, digital marketing is only going to increase--especially in a world where ad-supported free apps and content are more popular than ever.
At its core, content analytics is the ability to extract structured information (such as people, places, and things) from unstructured text. This information is used to track, organize, and search content. "Content analytics allows people to find what they're looking for, not what they're searching for," notes Stephen Ludlow, director of enterprise product marketing at OpenText, a leading enterprise information management organization. From a content publishing perspective, search is still a critical component of the way people interact with content. The metadata extracted from unstructured content allows the user to end up in the right place.
If you were one of the record 114.4 million viewers who tuned in to the Super Bowl earlier this month, you were likely inundated with ads, each of which cost a cool $4.5 million. But while you may have chuckled at spots like Esurance's featuring Lindsey Lohan poking fun at her DUI-checkered reputation or Budweiser's lost puppy tug-on-the-heartstrings pitch, ask yourself: How motivated were you to act on those ads and purchase these products/services, and, if you were that company, could your ad dollars have been better spent in other channels, including digital?
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Feb 06, 2015
Once a tremendous engine of growth for the publishing industry, ebook sales have leveled off in recent years as the market matured. This has left publishers and retailers struggling to find the next frontier in ebooks. Sluggish sales are prompting publishers to seek new distribution channels for their titles, while retailers continue a race to the bottom with ebook pricing. Meanwhile, one dispute caused the ebook industry to hold its breath in 2014--with the prospect of more fireworks in the year to come.
Today, content marketing is a thriving industry showing no signs of slowing. However, Pulizzi--widely considered a leading expert on content marketing--notes that while "almost 90% of marketers are using some sort of content marketing approach, according to our latest content marketing research, just 38% of those marketers are effective."
When it comes to content, it's all about monetization. Content commerce is a big deal with not only new devices, but also with new payment modalities that are emerging to make the process simple and seamless. When just a single click can complete the transaction, both consumers and marketers benefit.
While smartphone technology has been around since the early 1990s, it was Apple's release of the iPhone in 2007 that made it cool to be "smart." Today, according to Pew Research Internet Project's January 2014 research, more than 90% of American adults have a cellphone-58% have smartphones. Others put the adoption much higher. Regardless, there is no question that the use of smartphones is on an upward spiral. Marketers have taken notice and reached out to consumers through a wide range of mobile advertising options, from pop-up ads and videos to native advertising, in-app advertising, and more.
Web content management (WCM) software has matured from being a tool that IT controlled to being a vital part of staking a brand's presence in the digital marketplace. And yet, the industry is still experiencing growing pains. WCM software vendors keep adding more features to software that is already overly complex, creating "demoware" that only companies with deep pockets can use.
Read an old-style, no-batteries-required, turn-too-fast-and-get-a-paper-cut kind of book lately? Chances are many of the teenage bookworms you know have as well. Teens are showing a preference for good ole printed books as industry watchers consider the roots of the connection and the impact on publishing. Recent figures from the measurement firm Nielsen tell the tale: 54% of teens ages 13 to 17 strongly or generally prefer print, with 28% having no preference, and 18% strongly or generally preferring ebooks, according to Nielsen's "Understanding the Children's Book Consumer in the Digital Age: Fall 2014 report."
By Mindy Charski
Posted Jan 14, 2015
Welcome to 2015, and a whole new era in social media marketing on Facebook: the "post promotional post" era. That's because, beginning this month, Facebook will be instituting new content and volume controls for organic posts that are promotional in nature. This includes posts that push users to purchase a product or install an app, reuse the exact same content from ads, or impel people to enter promotions or sweepstakes without context. Facebook is making these modifications in response to results of a survey of its users who reported being unhappy with the amount of promotional posts infiltrating their News Feeds.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jan 05, 2015
As the line between editorial and advertorial continues to blur, so does the public's confidence in content from publications versus brands, as evidenced by new industry research that explores this topic-with some unexpected results. A new study by Vibrant shows that only 2% more of consumers trust content from publications (35%) than from brands (33%); and yet, there are more consumers who distrust content from publications (18%) than there are who distrust content from brands (15.5%). Additionally, the number of consumers that distrust content from media titles they know (12%) is double the number who distrust content from brands that they know (6%).
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Dec 17, 2014
With Americans now spending more time on mobile devices than on desktops or laptops, brands need a marketing strategy that embraces mobile. And yet, many brands are struggling to find a coherent mobile strategy. One mobile media company says that brands that don't "get mobile" must overhaul their marketing strategy in 2015 or risk becoming as obsolete as a flip phone. Companies can no longer create a responsive website and claim that they have a mobile strategy.
By Robert Springer
Posted Dec 10, 2014
Check out these sites and technologies on the cutting edge of content.
Posted Dec 03, 2014
Get to know the judges of the 2014-2015 EContent 100 awards.
Posted Dec 01, 2014
The 2014-2015 EContent 100, a list of the 100 Companies that Matter Most in the Digital Content Industry.
December 2014 Issue
Posted Dec 01, 2014
In its recent third quarter reporting, the company posted a 7% decrease in user engagement and a slide in growth of monthly active users: growth increased 23%, but that was down from 24% posted in the second quarter of 2014 and down from 38% reported in the third quarter of 2013. Consequently, Twitter's stock price has fallen in recent weeks, and the S&P downgraded Twitter's debt to junk status, describing the company's risk as significant. So, how did it come to this? Where did Twitter go wrong, and, more importantly, what can it do to right the ship and recruit new users?
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Nov 26, 2014
Before Twitter and YouTube could respond, millions of users saw video of journalist James Foley being beheaded. An equally large number of people were privy to naked photos of celebrities on sites such as 4chan and reddit, after a hacker illegally stole the photos from the cloud. These were eventually removed, but not before a surprising controversy rose up around these instances: Should social media sites be in the business of censoring content-and, by extension, users?
Native advertising is having its big moment. When done right, it has tremendous pull with consumers. According to Nielsen, native ads produce as much as an 82% in brand lift. An infographic from MDG Advertising says 70% of individuals reported that they would prefer "to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising."
By Kylie Wakefield
Posted Nov 21, 2014
Sentiment analysis is like social media therapy. We attempt to learn how our audience feels about us-what are the complaints, issues, suggestions, and praise? We can also learn what they think of our competition, our industry, and our employees. Perhaps the most valuable data in sentiment analysis is what we don't find. It is alarming if your marketing is trying to highlight price, but there's no mention of it online. That indicates the need for a significant reassessment of your efforts. Sentiment analysis also becomes a powerful benchmark of your marketing programs as you can track the change in overall sentiment over time.
Whether you make widgets or wine, sell consulting services or software, deep down inside of you, there's an author waiting to come out. Regardless of your writing skills or lack thereof, you and the business you represent have a story to tell-not a fairytale, thriller, romance, or science fiction adventure, but a nonfiction narrative that shares your unique knowledge and expertise with others who are hungry for it.
The mobile payments industry has been plagued by false starts and unsubstantiated predictions. Back in 2008, Juniper Research projected the combined market for all types of mobile payments would reach more than $600 billion globally by 2013. However, by June 2013, Gartner, Inc. predicted the market to be around $235 billion, which was nowhere near the projection from 5 years earlier. Why haven't mobile payments seen the adoption rates predicted in years past?
Social media content can influence purchase decisions, but its role often goes uncredited since posts and tweets aren't usually the last click before a sale. "That's like only recognizing the pro basketball player who makes a shot, and completely disregarding the guy who's part of the assist," says Jason Cormier, co-founder of the digital marketing agency Room 214. New tools and strategies are changing the game, however, by enabling strong social content to more directly impact commerce.
By Mindy Charski
Posted Nov 05, 2014
Can a relatively mature technology help content publishers and marketers make website visitors more sticky and allow them to retain digital subscribers while also raising prices? The answer is yes.The science behind what is making the aforementioned possible--predictive analytics--has been around for quite awhile. In its former life, it was known as data mining. Add in Big Data and the rapidly maturing technology looks as if it's ready for its close-up.
Consider that the average Facebook video is approximately 44 seconds long, according to Socialbakers. Yet, even that relatively brief visual message may be longer than ideal. Recently published data by Socialbakers indicates that Facebook videos shorter than approximately 21 seconds performed in the top 25% for completion rates. Additionally, 20% of viewers click away from a video after only 10 seconds or less; 33% of viewers click away in 30 seconds and 45% by one minute. Considering that video converts consumers better than other forms of digital content (71% of respondents to a fresh Vidyard poll revealed that video converts better than text and images), digital publishers, content providers, and marketers alike need to give careful thought to the runtime of their marketing videos, experts insist.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Oct 29, 2014
Video may have killed the radio star, as The Buggles famously sang, but, as a recent survey indicates, it may help create the next marketing one. Or so many B2B marketers seem to hope. In June, Demand Metric, in partnership with Ascend2, released "B2B Video Marketing: B2B Benchmarks & Best Practices." The survey-which was sponsored by the video marketing platform Vidyard-garnered 398 responses, representing marketing, sales, and business professionals from around the world.
Social media monitoring really took off about five years ago with many companies hiring chief listening officers to bring the social media discussions into the boardroom. The job description was simple: monitor all forms of social media to see what the buzz was about the company and pass on any complaints, product ideas, or tips to various departments within the organization. However, as we get ready to turn the corner to 2015, some believe a CLO is too passive to be effective.
By Keith Loria
Posted Oct 22, 2014
One of the challenges inherent in presenting large quantities of content is the great disparity in how users like to consume it-not to the mention the expanding list of content types. While you may not be able to please all of your users all of the time, there are some rules and trends that can help you create navigable, engaging, and beautiful apps that help spread your content to the mobile masses.
A surprising 54% of businesses spent less than $1 million on digital marketing in 2013, per the results of a recent study by SEMPO and Econsultancy; additionally, the study revealed that almost half of digital marketing budgets were spent on search-with 31% on paid search and 18% on SEO. Other top areas where digital marketing dollars were allocated included email (18%), digital display (13%t), and social media (11%). Many industry professionals, like Michael Baliber, senior vice president and director of media strategy for ID Media, are surprised by the SEMPO survey results.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Oct 15, 2014
Big brands have used mobile technologies in an effort to increase awareness, drive sales, and encourage customer retention for quite some time, but recent data shows that mobile adoption has seen a significant increase among small and medium businesses (SMBs) during the past year. In July 2014, Constant Contact released a new infographic based on a comparison of its 2013 "Mobile Pulse Survey" and its 2014 "Mobile Pulse Survey," which surveyed around 570 U.S.-based small business owners and nonprofits that the company refers to as its Small Biz Counsel. The infographic revealed that SMBs are finally hopping aboard the mobile bandwagon with an 11% jump in small businesses adopting mobile technology from 2013 to 2014.
For much of history, the primary obstacle preventing people from connecting with one another was distance. But in the mobile, social, always-on world in which we live today, distance is no longer the major challenge. Instead, our biggest challenge is the lack of a common language. It's the inability to understand one another that prevents us from making meaningful connections. Isn't there an app for that? Yes, there is. Machine translation (MT) hails from the discipline of computational linguistics and aims to help humans who speak different languages communicate with one another. And while MT is not actually an "app," many app makers are attempting to harness the power of automated translation by building MT into their products and services. But there are challenges.
Any organization with an interest in disseminating its content to a global audience needs to familiarize itself with the basics of machine translation. At a time when the globalization of commerce is yesterday's news, the number of companies with the capacity for international ecommerce has grown considerably. Machine translation is not necessarily reserved for the titans of industry, as many translation service providers are beginning to offer more scalable services to assist even small companies with translation projects.
Analytics is big business-and predicted to become even bigger. In International Data Corporation's (IDC) forecast on the growth of the business analytics market, "Worldwide Business Analytics Services 2014-2018 Forecast," a growth of $51.6 billion to $89.6 billion is predicted over the period. For those companies without inside staff expertise, there also is a predicted increase in the use of outside resources of 12.8%. There are a wide range of analytics readily available to even the smallest organization, many at no- or low-cost. But taking it all in can be like trying to drink from a fire hose. What's meaningful and what's not? Which tools provide the best insights into what's working?
By Lin Pophal
Posted Oct 03, 2014
What will the internet look like in 10 or 20 years? While this is an unanswerable question, it doesn't stop the speculation. Policies pursued (or not pursued) by governments, especially in the U.S., will go a long way toward shaping tomorrow's internet. Recently, several scholars were asked to contribute essays for a special issue of the journal Critical Studies in Media Communication. In the issue, The Future of Internet Policy, the authors are very critical of the U.S. government's handling of the internet and present varying policy solutions for making tomorrow's internet more equitable.
You have probably been hearing a lot about mobile payments, lately-thanks to Apple's foray into the market. As much as you may hear about mobile payments, I'd be willing to bet you've never used it-or seen anyone else flick their phone at the register. Apple hopes to change that, but there are still barriers to adoption.
By Theresa Cramer
Posted Sep 29, 2014