Why Did Content Marketing Blow Up?

by Emily E. Steck

Why Did Content Marketing Blow Up?

Every now and again, we like to flex our creative muscles and get to the bottom of issues in the publishing industry. The one currently consuming Quietly’s mind? Why did content marketing blow up (and how did it happen so fast)?

Technically, content marketing—where companies create and market multimedia content in the hopes of drumming up and retaining business—is not new. Businesses have created magazines featuring their product and how-tos for their product, like John Deere’s The Furrow magazine or the automotive company Michelin’s The Michelin Guides or even LEGO’s own kids’ magazine. JELL-O has its own cookbook. Toy company Hasbro partnered up with Marvel Comics to create a G.I. Joe comic book series. So on and so forth.

Content marketing is and was effective, but it still begs the question: why now?

Our Love-Hate Relationship with Ads

Sure, we may love sitting around and watching the ads during the Superbowl or other high-profile sports events, but no one really likes to sit through them otherwise, especially while browsing on the internet. That 30-second wait to watch a YouTube video will send you elsewhere and that 10-second wait before you get to the article you clicked is just annoying. In fact, a study showed that some people are only willing to wait 2 seconds before they start abandoning. By 10 seconds? More than half are gone.

You can blame this phenomenon partially on technology itself. It’s created an instant gratification culture not exclusive to Millennials where instant is now and patience is a luxury.

If people do stay for the content, they are treated to banner ads, suffocating the content via ever-growing margins. Banner ads are incredibly ineffective, with studies showing abysmal click-through rates and reachability. You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. And yet they exist, but for how much longer is uncertain.

There’s also the fact that we don’t trust the people making them. In a Gallup poll measuring our views of the honesty of professions, advertisers come in at the bottom, along with Members of Congress and car salesman. Harsh. And even more so when knowing that stockbrokers and bankers are more trusted than advertisers—and this is after the 2008 World Economic Crisis. Millennials are the ones who trust marketing the least, which is why they tend to ignore it or use ad blocking tech.

Yet, one study says that people are more willing to watch ads if they are funny or entertaining. Translation: ads are a waste of our time until they appeal to us or add value to our experiences.

The Internet Likes Content and It Likes It Free

We can thank publishers circa 1990s for their initiative to put content on the web for free. 20 years later, people may be willing to pay some money, but by-and-large, today’s readers feel content should be free.

This is where brands could step in. Creating content is more personal than good PR and, unlike the problems in the news world, big brands have the money to finance it. Coca-Cola, once the most valuable brand in the world (it now sits at number 3 behind Apple and Google, respectively), was one of the early champions of content marketing, crafting a Content 2020 plan to establish good will and raise profits.

And now, content marketing is what everyone wants to talk about and do. Content marketing lends thought leadership, which is all anyone wants these days. More on thought leadership later…

Content marketing blew up because we really hate ads and really love content. Preferably free content. Will there be a time when we really hate content and really love ads again? Probably not, though there are already signs of fatigue with native ads. For all of you ad-haters and content lovers and business owners, it’s a really good time to jump on the bandwagon: content marketing has no signs of slowing anytime soon.


5 Reasons Why You Hate Banner Ads

By Emily E. Steck

Fact: you are more likely to get struck by lightning than [click on a banner ad.](http://www.businessinsider.com/its-more-likely-you-will-survive-a-plane-crash-or-win-the-lottery-than-click-a-banner-ad-2011-6) Here's why we hate them so much.

  • They Waste Your Time…For A Few Seconds

    By Emily E. Steck

    Banner ads are only relevant to you when they remind you of all the bad things. Very few positive impressions are left, and for a few minutes, you'll be annoyed. Then you'll forget. Rinse. Repeat.

  • They Inspire Fear

    By Emily E. Steck

    How many pop ads has someone accidentally clicked on that lead to a very annoying, data-destroying virus? Or worse: a pop-up ad. The horror!

  • They Are Too Well Designed

    By Emily E. Steck

    Banner ads are in the margins of the screen, where you'll need to move your mouse to open a new tab or document or close your browser. One wrong move and presto: an interactive banner ad.

  • They Start Without Permission

    By Emily E. Steck

    Many banner ads either "unfold" from the margins of a screen or start playing audio without any cause. It's trying to be interactive, but's it more hyperactive, which causes annoyance.

  • They Are Distracting

    By Emily E. Steck

    Our minds can only handle so much attention at once, and [even that's shrinking](http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/). Well designed banner ads that have moving text images will distract us from what we're actually doing.

Image Credit: Ciera Holzenthal via Flickr

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