Report Reveals the Future of Content Must Adapt to AI, Voice Search, and Hyper-Local

Jun 22, 2017

A new survey released by BrightEdge, a provider of enterprise SEO and content performance marketing solutions, reveals that marketers believe in a future ruled by the likes of Alexa, Artificial Intelligence (AI), voice search, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet, most in-house marketers and agency practitioners have done little to introduce these powerful components into their content marketing strategy.

BrightEdge surveyed 252 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands that represent a split of B2B and B2C companies over a one-month period in April and May of 2017. The survey sought to understand how marketers are preparing for the accelerating consumer adoption of AI, voice search, and local search over the next year. The survey discovered that marketers recognize the AI, voice and hyperlocal revolution is here, yet, the majority of marketers are not planning to adapt their marketing strategies. This leaves brands at risk of failing to meet consumers rising expectations.

Although marketers are behind the curve of implementing specific strategies rooted in AI, voice and local, the survey did reveal many Fortune 500 in-house and agency content marketing teams are taking the lead to develop and implement holistic strategies that integrate SEO, SEM, social media, and content marketing, with the goal of delivering better results and a better customer experience.

Below are four key findings that illustrate the new content marketing landscape.


Voice, AI, and Mobile are Dominating Search

Marketers are not preparing for the post-mobile world, where mobile search, voice search, local search and the increasingly heavy reliance on intelligent agents to find what you need are dramatically changing consumers interactions with brands.

  • Marketers are still highly focused on just meeting the bar in the transition from desktop to mobile. In fact, 27% of marketers still believe mobile is “the next big thing.”
  • Roughly 66% of marketers have no plans to begin preparing for voice search. Yet, 31% of marketers believe it is the “next big thing.” What’s more is that voice search accounts for more than 20% f all mobile searches.
  • Similarly, 32% of respondents believe artificial intelligence (AI) is the “next big thing,” but 57% are “not likely” they will implement any element of artificial intelligence (AI) this year.
  • Only 3% of respondents said they anticipate 5G mobile speeds being the next big thing –– but according to recent reports, this is projected to be a reality by 2020.

Marketers are Struggling to Create Effective Content at a Lower Volume

More content than ever before is being created, but it’s vastly under-utilized by consumers. In this survey, respondents recognized the need to create content that’s effective for local and mobile audiences, but again, are falling short of implementing the impactful strategy.

  • Of the respondents, 71% percent reported that less than half of their content is consumed.
  • Fewer than 9% of those surveyed experience three-quarters or more of the content they produce engaged with.
  • B2C saw better odds of content consumption than B2B.
  • The top three types of content created most often are blog content, social media content, and videos.

Content Optimization Should be Priority Number One

The idea of mobile optimization has entered a new realm. Now, brands have to deliver customer results every time, catering to location, device and speed to deliver relevant and intelligent content that drives conversions.

  • 51% of marketers labeled creating and optimizing content for local markets “very important” or “a priority” in 2017.
  • Nearly half of the respondents are using data to drive content strategy. This could explain the recognition of AI, voice, and local search impact, but point to the disconnect in the application and execution in content.
  • A majority of the respondents labeled small custom content elements highly optimized for specific consumer searches and questions as micro-content.
  • For the respondents, creating micro-content has now surpassed long-form, time investment-heavy initiatives like webinars, research reports and case studies in priority.

Content marketers are Finding a Key Partner in Search Engine Optimization

Often a less glamourous but vital marketing function, search helps marketers discover consumer intent, providing useful insights to drive content marketing strategies. And SEO is critical for creating optimized content that is easily discoverable by consumers. The combination of SEO and content marketing create a new category focused on content performance and intelligent content creation.

  • Organic was the number one marketing initiative priority for the survey respondents. BrightEdge proprietary research shows organic search drives 51% of all website traffic.  
  • An overwhelming majority of marketers –– 97% of those surveyed –– agree SEO and content marketing are converging, or have already converged. In line with these findings, content and organic clocked in as the most important initiatives for marketers this year.
  • Conversions, followed by engagement, and then traffic accounted for the top three answers respondents listed as the most important metrics of success for content performance. The marriage of content marketing and SEO offers one solution to reach those goals.
  • 52% of the respondents recognized that fluency in SEO is critical to long-term content marketing success.