Even if you missed the Time Magazine cover article last August, weren't able to attend CES 2016, or have overlooked the countless headlines, posts and tweets about it over the past several months, it's hard to ignore the facts: Virtual reality is a reality, and VR technology has captured the awe and imagination of consumers hungry for a disbelief-suspending computer-rendered simulation of the real and the fantastic. And the exciting prospect for digital publishers and electronic content providers both large and small? VR offers viable, affordable content possibilities beyond gaming and simulated thrill experiences, which is where a lot of the early tech investment dollars have been funneled. In fact, it's VR's capacity to seriously infiltrate into offbeat and unexpected niches that has a lot of industry experts paying closer attention.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Mar 23, 2016
Want a happier reader? It's no secret that offering more personalized content can increase engagement. The good news is that effectively executed personalization can yield an enviable ROI. How much? McKinsey research reveals that personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales 10% or more. "Big Data, Analytics, and the Future of Marketing & Sales" suggests companies that place data-driven personalization at the core of marketing and sales decisions improve marketing ROI by 15% to 20%.
A large chunk of ad spending is already being done programmatically. eMarketer predicts programmatic will make up 67% of total digital display ad spending, or $21.55 billion, in 2016. That's up from 2015, when it accounted for 59% of spending, or $15.43 billion, according to the researchers. The figures include programmatic buying for banners, rich media, video, sponsorship, and additional ad units showing on desktops, tablets, mobile, and other internet-connected devices. Programmatic advertising is creeping into more forms of media too, including television and radio.
Today, many companies' digital efforts have transitioned from simple web publishing to more full-blown customer experience management (CXM), as they seek to take advantage of the web, as well as other channels (such as offline, print, and mobile), to conduct core commercial operations and grow their businesses. Digital experience management is the digital component of CXM. It is a cross-organization discipline and includes strategies and practices to acquire, nurture, and manage users throughout their journeys. Users are customers, employees, prospects, and other people who digitally interact with the firm.
The majority of enterprise-level companies have a content strategy. However, almost half aren't using buyer personas to generate demand, and about 50% don't design content to target buyers' pain points, a recent survey of B2B marketers found. "2015 Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Research Study," conducted by the demand-generation firm, ANNUITAS, focuses on companies in the B2B space with more than 2,000 employees and at least $250 million in revenue.
There is no shortage of content marketing experts these days, and there's no shortage of ideas on the best ways for companies to leverage their content to achieve desired results. The problem is that these ideas are often without context--not grounded in real-world examples that can help would-be content marketers get their arms around what content strategy is all about. Here, through a fictional example of a company that's interested in gaining clients and driving business through content marketing, we apply the advice of content marketing experts to demonstrate how it can be used in concrete ways.
By Lin Pophal
- March 2016 Issue
Posted Mar 02, 2016
The industry had recognized the importance of measuring how frequently an online ad has the opportunity to be seen, not just how often it's served. 3MS enlisted the help of the nonprofit Media Rating Council (MRC), which sets standards for measurement of media and conducts audits to verify compliance with them. Here are six things you need to know about viewability:
By Mindy Charski
Posted Feb 29, 2016
While the overarching goal of content analytics--to capture digital content and then apply business intelligence (BI) in order to glean actionable insights--has stayed relatively fixed in recent years, the continued proliferation in variety and volume of content means that both vendors and users of content analytics solutions must move at a brisk clip to even stay in place. In a 2015 industry survey called "Content Analytics: Automating Processes and Extracting Knowledge," conducted by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), the majority of the 238 respondents felt there was real business insight to be gained if they got content analytics right.
When the University of California-Berkeley's (UC-Berkeley) School of Information asked 43 industry professionals for their definition of "Big Data" in 2014, it received 43 different answers. Most answers touched on the "three V" parameters of Big Data popularized by Gartner, Inc.: high-volume, high-velocity, and high-variety information assets requiring advanced forms of information processing to fully unlock their potential.
Remember when the digital content industry was convinced that audiences would never pay for content as long as they could get it for free? Gloom and doom were common among publishers that found demand for their traditional content formats declining, as more and more people went online to find information. And, yes, some publishers have failed. Others, however, are thriving in this new environment.
After years of go-go growth, the ebook market has matured into a slower-growth industry. However, slower growth doesn't mean that substantive changes are occurring. "The days of triple-digit growth are probably behind us," says Tina Jordan, VP at the Association of American Publishers (AAP). "Ebooks have been launched and are here to stay. Growth trends are typically incremental, with sales generally driven by bestsellers in all formats."
Sure, posting trip photos, tweeting links, and networking with old co-workers is fun. But online citizens want to tap into the pulse of the world around them, belong to a community, and be recognized. "Social media has evolved into a personal online identity. Before, it was used to connect with friends and update your status," says Jesse Till, social media coordinator for Chatter Buzz Media. "Now, it defines a persona. It's a chance for a person to express and broadcast themselves to the world."
"Today's users seek online video content on the screen of their choice. They should be able to access the video anywhere and virtually anytime they desire," says Matt Smith, chief evangelist for Anvato. "The models may vary, but every screen is the new normal." The new normal also includes more "snackable content" in the form of shorter videos that cater to smaller consumer attention spans. To wit: Snapchat, which limits user videos to 10 seconds or less, now has 6 billion video views per day.
With several obvious trends standing out, determining the direction the digital marketing winds are blowing isn't exactly rocket science. But the work of actually marketing a product or service sure feels as if it is. Despite the light-speed pace of advancing technology, plotting the launch and trajectory of an emarketing missile targeted at consumers is increasingly complicated.
With the release of a series of algorithmic updates over the past few years, Google has upended the internet landscape and the world of website owners. Suddenly, website owners discovered that they could no longer drive traffic through the use of generic, bland, and repetitive content. Suddenly, quality content was king once again. Content mills--such as Demand Media--quickly gave way to sites such as Contently and content marketing firms willing to pay top prices for unique, high-quality content specifically created to address niche audience needs.
It's almost time for nachos, hot wings, commercials, and football. It's Super Bowl weekend, a good time for marketers to grab the attention of millions of Americans-even if you don't have $5 million for a 30-second ad. The sheer ubiquity of social media and, more and more, social video, make it possible for DIY marketers to get their fair share of Super Bowl attention.
By Theresa Cramer
Posted Feb 05, 2016
Apple is widely credited with introducing the smartphone, and there is no doubt that its iPhone took the world by storm in 2007. But IBM actually had the first smartphone--the Simon Personal Communicator--which was introduced in 1992. Unfortunately, it was just a tad expensive: $899 with a service contract. Because few are even aware of this precursor to Apple's successful launch of the iPhone, it's hardly relevant--except for the fact that Apple and IBM continue to duke it out for dominance in the smartphone (and tablet) space.
According to Gartner, Inc., web content management (WCM) software has outgrown being only a tool for creating web content. In addition to serving content, WCM vendors have set their sights on helping companies manage customer experiences and are delivering software to help them realize that ambition. This shift is due to the fact that consumers are harder to reach and more discerning, according to Mark Floisand, VP of product marketing for Sitecore.
A similar challenge faces publishers today seeking to convert existing readers/subscribers into multichannel users of both their digital and print products. For proof of this uphill climb, consider recent industry data: Approximately half of newspaper readers only consume the paper's print edition, per a Pew Research Center survey. Ask the experts and they'll tell you it's crucial for content providers to get their readers to use both print and digital editions, if possible.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jan 27, 2016
Short and sweet tweets have been a constant over the last decade - a cyberspace certainty as reliable as the sun rising every morning in the east. But ever since Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hinted in early January at possibly expanding the 140-character limit on tweets over 71-fold--up to a whopping 10,000 characters--experts have been speculating on why, how and when this prospective social media game changer will happen and how it would affect digital publishers and marketers alike.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jan 18, 2016
Any publisher worth his cyber salt can pump out an app, but relying on a "build it and they will come" mobile mentality, without measuring key metrics and scrutinizing user data during and after the launch, is a significantly flawed strategy. To remain competitive and keep your app audience happy, analytics are the answer, say the experts.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jan 06, 2016
New Year's may have come and gone, but it's never too late to make resolutions, predictions, or even predictions about predictions for the coming year. Case in point: Even though it's been a few weeks since Hotwire PR released its annual Communications Trends Report-which forecasts significant trends for marketers in 2016--many industry professionals are still digesting the published prognostications and determining which will develop into viable trends.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Jan 04, 2016
If the world of digital publishing were a hockey game--with the content providers on one team and consumers on the other--the outcome of tomorrow's matchup would be all but certain: The latter would trounce the former in a lopsided shutout. That's because consumers have the ultimate goalie in the net: ad-blocking technology, which prevents digital advertising such as banners and display ads from appearing on device screens.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Dec 23, 2015
What content do employees want to share on social media? And why do they think that it's valuable to share this information there? Surprisingly, no one has ever thought to ask non-C-level employees their thoughts on sharing content-until now. Trapit, a company that enables social media content sharing by employees, commissioned what it calls the first survey of rank-and-file employees about their thoughts on sharing company information on social media.
By Robert Springer
Posted Dec 16, 2015
The EContent team suggests some sites, projects, and resources ?that, while outside the scope of the EContent 100 list, are worth a closer look.
December 2015 Issue
Posted Dec 04, 2015
The EContent 100 list of companies that matter most in the digital content industry is now in its 15th year. We added new judges and new categories. As a result, there are many new companies on the list. Among other changes this year, we thought it was important to recognize digital marketing technologies in their own category.
December 2015 Issue
Posted Dec 01, 2015
An introduction to the EContent 100 judging team, and the list's categories.
December 2015 Issue
Posted Dec 01, 2015
You may have recently noticed a podcast renaissance of sorts. The success of Serial woke many brands, marketers, journalists, and more up to the power of the podcast. As a result, podcasts are popping up in almost every facet of business with renewed purpose, and targeting new audiences.
By Lin Pophal
Posted Nov 30, 2015
No one has a crystal ball for looking into the future of content. How will people be viewing your content a year or 10 years from now? Will it be on a smartwatch or maybe as a hologram? The hologram example may be taking things a bit too far, but the point is that, as a content creator, you never know how your content will be used in years to come. If you want it to have staying power, you need to think about future-proofing.
A report released last month by Marchex, a mobile advertising analytics company, and Digiday, found 56% of respondents consider mobile advertising measurement and attribution "very challenging" or "challenging" as opposed to scale (39%) or transparency (37%). All marketing verticals-agencies, publishers, and brands-agreed on this notion, showing unanimous concern about the challenges inherent in attribution. There are a few issues at work here, but there is also hope.
By Daniel Casciato
Posted Nov 20, 2015
Ask any e-marketer and they'll likely tell you it is high time deck the web's walls with scores of sales, coupons, promotions, and special offers to entice holiday shoppers. But will the deals you have in mind match what consumers are seeking? What's the best way to get shoppers' attention online? And how do you know when the timing is exactly right to launch a particular campaign or promo? Experts say these are crucial questions to address in the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Nov 18, 2015
In the good old days, web content management (WCM) technology primarily served to deliver content to a website-hence the name. At best, "multichannel" referred to the ability to deliver content to more than one type of website (e.g., an intranet and a public-facing website) or, the ability to repurpose experiences using a simplified template to make it palatable on mobile devices. Multichannel means a lot more now.
Today, any company worth its salt is stepping in front of the lens and clicking the Record button. When it comes to marketing in 2015, video is the undisputed king among consumers. Case in point: More than 70% of marketers say video generates conversions better than any other type of content, per survey data, sponsored by Vidyard, in Demand Metric's August 2014 report, "Video Content Marketing: Identifying Metrics & Measuring Impact." But with increasingly shorter audience attention spans, many content providers are veering away from extended play clips and relying more on short-form videos to build a customer base and push brands, products, and services.
The Content Marketing Institute's (CMI) 2015 reports on B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) content marketing trends reveal some important disconnects among demand, effectiveness, and satisfaction with results. For instance, while 86% of B2B respondents indicate that they are using content marketing, only 38% say that their efforts are effective. While 83% say they have a content marketing strategy, only 35% have a documented strategy.
Proven sales pitches and promotional tactics that register with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers can bomb when directed toward 18-34 year olds. That's because, whether it's due to intrinsic fickleness, innate skepticism, or vexing demographic complexity, Millennials can be downright difficult to market to. But if you can speak their language and attract their eyeballs, you stand a better chance of engaging this increasingly populous and powerful consumer segment.
Software programs masquerading as humans and controlled by criminals are decaying trust in the ecosystem - and these bad bots are getting smarter by the day. It may sound like a mediocre movie plot, but the drama is all too real for advertisers, publishers, agencies and others in the digital advertising marketplace who are falling victim to bot fraud. Now, combatting the multipronged menace has become a priority for many stakeholders.
By Mindy Charski
Posted Oct 21, 2015
Marketers and content providers especially need to keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest mobile trends and technologies, lest they be crushed by the stampeding mass that could suddenly break in a different direction at any time. Because let’s face it: Today, consumers--not content--are king, and they expect to be treated like royalty, with a rich array of apps, articles, promotions, posts, tweets, texts, videos, and other short-attention-span-geared features at their fingertips.
This example, though, is just good marketing. It's not really content marketing. It wasn't until I was on the site, a couple of days later, checking out after I received 10% off my order, that I came across a handy little site widget that caught my attention. I'd just fed the site my payment information and address, and it was now thanking me for my order. And in the sidebar, it was also offering me a list of parks near my house where I could go be outdoorsy.
By Theresa Cramer
Posted Oct 13, 2015
Native ads--ads that reside seamlessly within content, giving the appearance of editorial material--have become increasingly prevalent as consumer adoption of mobile technology has skyrocketed. These ads can take many forms, and marketers are always in search of the next new thing that will enable them to cut through the clutter to deliver an experience that not only will be different, but also will resonate with their audiences and, ultimately, drive sales.
DRM means different things to different people. In popular perception, DRM is often associated with controlling access to proprietary content--for instance, preventing music or video file-sharing. To be clear, this article is not about content protection technologies that prevent viewing or using digital assets. Instead, we take an enterprise perspective, and the focus here is on enterprise DRM tools to manage the rights and licensing information associated with digital assets.
There's an unspoken agreement that consumers and companies enter into millions of times a day: Consumers get free products that they value (Facebook and Twitter), and the companies show them semi-personalized and relevant ads to pay for the service. But survey after survey shows that Americans value privacy but feel resigned to not having much when they venture online. Businesses live in fear of a data breach that would undermine the public’s trust in their company and cost them revenue and shareholder value.
If the last 10 years have taught us anything, it's that virtually anybody can be an author, photographer, videographer, voiceover talent, or subject matter expert-thanks to ubiquitous tools like smartphones, blogs, and social media sites that allow everyday people to post and publish text, photos, video, and audio galore. Which begs the question for companies: Why not tap into these public resources more often as a free and valuable source of content for your brands and products?
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Sep 30, 2015
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "It is a principle of American law that an author of a work may reap the fruits of his or her intellectual creativity for a limited period of time." "Copyright" literally means the right to copy. There are more than 300 years of history and legal cases that developed copyright law in the U.S. It all began in England in the late 15th century, with the introduction of the printing press. In 1710, Parliament passed the Statute of Anne, which "established the principles of authors' ownership of copyright, preventing a monopoly by booksellers," according to the Library of Congress (LC).
About 40% of unique visitors to the website of the digital food brand Epicurious come from mobile devices, and 20% come from tablets. It would have been easy as pie to group these non-desktop users together when the brand overhauled its website last February. Easy, but a very bad recipe. After all, mobile and tablet users are looking at different screen sizes and possibly consuming content differently.
Consumer products like fitness trackers and smart thermostats are among the most easily identifiable "things" of the Internet of Things. But the IoT also has a buttoned-up side. Many enterprises are deploying sensor-packed devices that gather data and can communicate with other devices through the internet. Their benefits can be wide ranging, and they include the potential for improving decision-making capabilities and creating efficiencies through automation. There's a catch, though: These data-rich, connected technologies can pose security risks. Cybercriminals have their eyes on the IoT, too.
By Mindy Charski
Posted Sep 18, 2015
In this age of analytics, marketers are data detectives. A/B testing can help resolve many of their quandaries related to online marketing. But, first, what is A/B testing? It is a process in which you choose the best-performing version of a webpage, by randomly displaying different versions of your site to visitors and assessing the performance of each variant against a desired metric (such as clicks or sign-ups). You can test by tweaking one page element (such as headline, call to action, or image) at a time, or you can test changes to several page elements all at once (the latter is referred to as "multivariate testing"). Thus, when you use A/B testing, you are not flying blind. You're letting data drive your design choices and decisions. Think of A/B testing as "the scientific method meeting online marketing."
As of July 1, Jeff Haden's June 8, 2015, LinkedIn post, "7 Things Employees Wish They Could Tell Their Bosses," had grown to about 481,000 views, more than 1,800 likes, and 307 comments. Haden, a ghostwriter and speaker, is a LinkedIn Influencer. Similar to other Influencers, his posts often go viral. Most of those who are attempting to engage with an audience online, though, struggle to generate even 100 views. What can the masses learn from online influencers, whether they are the capital "I" LinkedIn variety or from a wider array of content outlets?
Several publishers have made headlines over the past few years as they battled Amazon.com for the right to set their own ebook prices. Amazon.com wanted to contractually obligate the companies to set the prices at $9.99 or less. Big-name authors got involved, as did Stephen Colbert-whose publisher, Hachette, was in one of the longest and most contentious contract negotiations with Amazon (which, for its part, tossed its weight around by taking pre-order buttons off of Hachette books, and purposely filling books for Hachette books late). But Hachette and other publishers, like Harper-Collins and Simon & Schuster-as well as the rest of the so-called "Big 5"-eventually won the right to set their own prices. But as the Wall Street Journal points outin "E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts," that may be coming back to haunt the companies now, which have seen their ebook revenue fall.
Posted Sep 08, 2015
Two weeks after its 2013 launch date, Electronic Arts, Inc. sold 1.1 million copies of its "SimCity 5" game, with digital downloads representing half of all sales. President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign website increased donation conversions by 49% and, ultimately, raised an additional $500 million. And Amazon famously changed its checkout button 6 years ago, increasing site revenue by $300 million. What's the common denominator in all three success stories and in countless other case studies across the internet? Each conducted A/B tests, which produced phenomenal results. And they're far from the fringe minority: 75% of strategic phase marketers rely on A/B testing to learn about customer behavior, per MarketingSherpa's 2012 "Website Optimization Benchmark Report."