Year in review: 2015 was a quiet year for content marketing

2015 came, 2015 went. Sure, there were fireworks on New Year’s Eve, but we have to agree with Rachel Parker’s Content Marketing Podcast: 2015 was a “quiet year” for content marketing.

In retrospect, there were few game changers this year in the world of content marketing. If anything, 2015 was the year content marketers reaped the benefits of bigger budgets. Approximately 33 percent of marketers cited a lack of budgetary funds as their major concern for 2015, according to a Contently survey. That changed in 2015, as B2B companies dedicated 28 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing, while B2C companies allocated 32 percent of their marketing budget to content.

To sum up the year in content marketing? Quietly—yet massively—growing (not unlike us!). Still, there’s plenty to talk about. We’ve searched high and low for the biggest news, stories, and trends that covered content marketing this year. From video to podcasting to Mobilegeddon, here’s our year in review for 2015.

The “golden age” of multimedia content

Are we in the golden age of content or just on the cusp? Whatever age we’re in, we’re just beginning to tap into video, which clearly dominated the conversation and content consumption this year. This infographic from Hubspot shows just how much it’s infiltrated our content consumption: 78 percent of people watch videos online every week and 55 percent watch videos online every day; 81 percent of brand websites feature videos; and 52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content that delivers the best ROI. And then, there’s the controversy of Facebook vs. YouTube, which is a battle that only begun in 2015. According to some YouTubers, Facebook is essentially stealing billions of views (known as “freebooting”) from YouTube. Add the rise of live streaming video apps integrated with social media—like Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope—and video really did dominate, destroy, and kill it this year.

This year, brands also sought other content forms and distribution channels: most notably podcasts. The current age of podcasting has been crowned the “golden age of podcasting” by many. Even brands are jumping in on the phenomenon; General Electric’s sci-fi podcast The Message has dominated the iTunes charts. As Fast Co. reports, “the brand wanted to add a podcast to its already formidable collection of brand content and storytelling, not just because the medium has taken off, but also to challenge itself to tell a story that wouldn’t be copying what everyone else is doing.”

Who runs the world? Google and Facebook

This was also the year of “Mobilegeddon” in which Google penalized sites that were not optimized for mobile. The result affected nearly 60 percent of websites on the internet as web designers and developers optimized for mobile. The lesson of the story? Tech giants make the rules of the world; we just live in it.

Which brings us to another growing trend of the year, in which content marketers learned that they had to “pay to play.” This is to say, content marketers had to invest money into distribution channels that otherwise worked successfully for their brands in years prior. In particular, Facebook began to fail marketers, organically reaching only 2 percent of users on some pages. Thanks to a renewed interest in distribution, the “pay to play” strategies popularized sponsored and branded content, making it more mainstream.

Tech needs content and content needs tech

Did the tech and journalism feud come to a head in 2015? No. Despite early warning signs such as the controversy surrounding a New Yorker profile on a tech/website entrepreneur, tech and editorial never really came to blows (other than the blow up and rebuild of The New Republic). Meanwhile, The Washington Post is thriving under Jeff Bezos’ command.

In 2015, Twitter, Apple, and Snapchat began to hire journalists, editors, and content analysts to help build the media side of their tech brand. There was more emphasis from tech companies to reach out to those with editorial experience to develop their apps, side by side. Unfortunately, plenty of publications suffered from ad block this year as tech companies paid ad block carriers to display their ads, but you can’t win ‘em all (especially if you’re a publisher).

Like we said, 2015 was a quiet year for content marketing, but one filled with intrigue, promise, growth, and experimentation. The next year is bound to make some more noise for content marketing. (Speaking of, check out these podcasts you should be listening to in the new year).

10 Amazing Podcasts for Content Marketers

By Emily E. Steck

From the straightforward to the humorous, these are the podcasts every professional in content marketing and related fields should listen to.

  • The Craft of Marketing

    By Emily E. Steck

    Thanks to a successful Kickstarter funded by fellow content marketers, each week digital strategist and content marketer Seth Price interviews industry veterans and geniuses about "marketing goodness." Listen for the best tips, hacks and strategies marketing professionals want to share with small business owners, entrepreneurs and fellow marketers.

  • Claim Your Fame

    By Emily E. Steck

    In Andrew Davis' podcast for Content Marketing Institute (CMI), each week he speaks with a guest marketer, who shares his or her story as well as tips for success. Compacted in a tight 30-minute episode, Davis informs listeners with practical know-how they can apply to their own businesses after each informative interview.

  • Content Inc.

    By Emily E. Steck

    Joe Pulizzi—a founder of Content Marketing Institute—sits down twice every week to give one key takeaway about content marketing, business and the entrepreneurial spirit in 10 minutes or less. Focused and to the point, this shortform podcast is the perfect pick-me-up to listen to while grabbing a cup of coffee.

  • The Superheroes of Marketing

    By Emily E. Steck

    No, they aren't part-time crime fighters, but they are committed to helping small-to-medium sized business owners make the most of their presence on the web. With fun segments and introductions (including a brilliant "In a World" intro), these ladies certainly entertain and inform with their interesting interviews, unique brand of fresh humor and useful marketing approaches.

  • Rough Draft

    By Emily E. Steck

    Want to listen to quick and easy podcasts? Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger hosts this podcast 4x a week, 4 minutes a day. For content marketers and content creators, this show is your shortcut to becoming a better writer.

  • Content Warfare

    By Emily E. Steck

    Marketer Ryan Handley interviews the "internet's most prolific content creators" every week to discover their secrets for standing out in a sea of content. Focusing on topics such as content marketing, thought leadership, writing, audience, social media and podcasting, this podcast is worth the listening time thanks to Handley's energetic zeal and thoughtful interviewing.

  • This Old Marketing

    By Emily E. Steck

    Content Marketing Institute's Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose believe that telling stories to attract and retain customers is, perhaps, the oldest of marketing disciplines. In their podcast (which runs 60 minutes or less), they explore the latest content marketing news, upsets, controversies and trends aimed at the more experienced marketer; it's a great educational—and often very entertaining—podcast.

  • The Lede

    By Emily E. Steck

    Shortform podcasts, FTW. Copyblogger's Jerod Morris and Demian Farnworth answer questions and talk about copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, conversion optimization and more. If you're looking for a short, valuable podcast about content marketing, this is a must.

  • Exponent

    By Emily E. Steck

    Tech and content marketing work so closely together that it's essential for any content marketer to understand what's happening in both industries. Stratechery's Ben Thompson and the Harvard Business Review's James Allworth host this tech-related podcast that analyzes the news and the state of the industry in an engaging, thoughtful conversation every week.

  • The Marketing Companion

    By Emily E. Steck

    _The Marketing Companion_, according to fans is "the equivalent of a Snicker’s bar wrapped in bacon. Satisfying, interesting, and leaves you wanting more.” Hosted by Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster, this podcast tackles content marketing, business, social media, tech and digital marketing in 30 minutes of less.

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