Web users are showing a willingness to pay for content through subscriptions, but publishers and apps are seeing mixed results with premium tiers, according to a March report from BI Intelligence that explores categories increasingly relying on recurring payments to monetize content. The report finds that while some companies use a purely subscription-based model, such as Netflix, many others employ a "freemium" plan. Under this structure, all users gain basic access to content-which is often supported by ads-but can pay to upgrade the experience, perhaps unlocking certain features or accessing an ad-free version.
If you work in the digital content business there are probably a few terms that are constantly coming up in your world. Among them are "content marketing" and "mobile." But what happens when those terms collide, and you have to start thinking about mobile content marketing? If you haven't already started pondering how to fit this into your content strategy, it's time to start.
If you were measuring by the size of the headline fonts, 2014 looked as if it were an inflection point for venture capital (VC) investment into the digital content industry. According to Preqin, which tracks data on the investment industry, VC funding in the digital content industry reached $683 million in 2014, more than double the $286 million invested in 2013. A series of discussions with VCs already active in the digital content space revealed a real appetite for further digital content opportunities-provided those companies searching for funds bring with them scalability, engaged users, revenue, and quality.
The Apple Watch is here to stay, and depending on how you feel about smartwatches, that may be a good or bad thing. As we learn more about how people are actually using their smartwatches, manufacturers have the opportunity to create devices and operating systems that better address the needs and wants of users. With that in mind, Battery Ventures decided to find out exactly how smartwatches are being used.
By Theresa Cramer
Posted Jun 17, 2015
What happens when five powerful publishers band together to form a programmatic ad network, allowing advertisers to buy advertising space on The Economist, CNN International, The Guardian, Reuters, and Financial Times? The short answer is Pangaea. A longer answer, or at least longer-term one, is that no one is quite sure yet.
By Angie Dixon
Posted Jun 08, 2015
After a period of relentless hype, clarity is emerging on use cases for Big Data, and the toolsets are also showing signs of maturity. Digital media publishers may have been slow to join the Big Data party, but it is not too late. This article provides a quick overview of the Big Data tools for publishers, and the focus here is not on internal business intelligence use cases, but on the content-creation side of the business.
Journalists have long relied on numbers to support narratives. Some in the field have even been doing deep dives into the data to find the stories buried inside-that's not new. But fresh interest, new data sources, and cheaper tools are mainstreaming what was once an advanced and specialized area of the newsroom. Today, even more reporters are translating columns and rows of information into compelling text and impactful visuals.
For many companies, "social video" is an enigmatic content format. However, Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of the social media marketing and analytics company Shareablee, believes brands simply need to look at social video as "designed to be consumed within ephemeral environments-easy to consume, fast to the point, involving some spectacle that makes it worth stopping what you're doing, and enjoying a brief immersive video experience." This definition separates social video from more evergreen formats, such as films or interviews.
By Bree Brouwer
- May 2015 Issue
Posted May 27, 2015
A recent poll found that smartphone users are increasingly using shopping applications. In 2013, overall app usage grew by 115%, but the rate of growth slowed in 2014 to 76%. However, the opposite was true for shopping and lifestyle apps. Usage grew by 77% in 2013 and jumped in 2014 with a 174% increase, according to data from Flurry. With in-store beacons becoming more prevalent and engaging shoppers in new ways, this mobile growth trend seems set to continue in 2015.
By Guy A. Burdick
Posted May 25, 2015
Data, data, data-it's everywhere. Everything, including your watch, your grocery store, and even your car, can collect it from you. But what do companies do with all this data they collect--and, more importantly, how can they make the best and most efficient use of it? That's where cognitive computing comes in. It uses a variety of techniques--such as image and speech recognition and machine-learning algorithms--to sense, predict, and even think.
By Mike Thompson
Posted May 18, 2015
There is perhaps nothing more exciting--and challenging--to the world of digital content creators than the idea of wearable devices, and Noble Ackerson is at the forefront of this burgeoning field. "I was fortunate to be brought in at the ground floor of Google's Glass Explorer program. And as one of the first explorers, I had the pleasure of interfacing with the Glass team quite a bit," he says. "The technical and user experience insights gained from being a so-called Glass Pioneer, coupled with a decade of technical and business experience, made my leap to wearables a natural one."
Numbers rarely tell the story, but sometimes, they can go a long way. Such is the case with the growth of YouTube as a branding platform, targeted advertising medium, and vehicle to reach consumers, especially younger ones. It's no longer just the home of cute cat videos and footage of an 8-year-old's first soccer goal; YouTube is a huge force in social media. Popular YouTube stars--known as influencers or creators--are every bit as popular and influential as Jennifer Lawrence and Jon Stewart. With the younger crowd, they hold a considerable amount of sway.
Having helped Digiday launch its Content Studio, Deanna Zammit knows better than anyone what it takes to create a successful native advertising department. After starting her career in journalism--complete with a stint at Adweek--and a turn at freelancing, Zammit happened to see a post on Facebook that announced Digiday was looking to find someone to head up its new Content Studio and said, "I can do that!"
The tools available to us are pushing new limits. Here at EContent, we turned to our inboxes, our coverage, and our contributors to find out what those trendsetting products are in 2015. We hope that you find these tools as interesting and as potentially helpful as we do!
May 2015 Issue
Posted May 04, 2015
Content Marketing Institute's 2015 "Small Business Marketing Trends-North America" study, sponsored by Copyblogger Media's Rainmaker platform, focuses on how small business marketers are changing their marketing practices. It also points to some potential opportunities for these small businesses and others to better leverage the value that content marketing can provide. Chief among the keys to content marketing success is having a strategy.
By Lin Pophal
- April 2015 Issue
Posted Apr 27, 2015
Content is at the heart of every business. We spend a lot of time talking about content strategy, but very little talking about the reality of creating and managing it. When you have content being created by different people, at multiple locations chaos can ensue. Throw freelancers into the mix, and the picture gets even more confusing. A solid strategy must be in place for tracking assignments, billings, draft work, hours, and final product.
By Eliana Osborn
Posted Apr 24, 2015
In the world of digital publishing, the law of the jungle still applies, as it does in any industry: Only the fittest shall survive. But while eContent providers initiate and expire with regularity these days, recent news of the shakeout of three notable names in tech media--Gigaom, Joystiq, and The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)--has caused some players in this space to sit up, take notice, and ask nervous questions.
By Erik J. Martin
Posted Apr 22, 2015
Providing a good mobile experience is no longer optional (and frankly, it's hasn't been for a long time). You may have heard dire predictions about the latest changes coming from Google. If your website isn't friendly to mobile browsers, you may have big problems as Google rolls out mobile-focused algorithm changes. Of course, we hope that you already got the message about the importance of mobile-friendly sites, but just in case you did not, here are some tips on how to weather this change.
Posted Apr 20, 2015
On the fast-paced information superhighway--where speed rules and web wannabes drool--the spinning hourglass is as lethal a symbol as the skull and crossbones. Luckily for big and small content providers alike, the open and unfettered internet--where all data is theoretically treated equally and neutrally and consumers can access content quickly without fear of a site being deliberately blocked or choked off by broadband providers--has prevailed, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voting to preserve Net Neutrality in late February.
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