Content Brief: RIP Vine, the AT&T and Time Warner Merger, and more content marketing news

Welcome to Content Brief, where we brief you on the latest news, chatter, and discussions in content marketing.

‘Tis the beginning of the holiday season! Our Canadian counterparts celebrated Thanksgiving and everyone at the office got into the Halloween spirit. But it wasn’t all celebration. For the last few months of the year, we’ve been focused on spending our remaining budgets for 2016 and preparing for 2017—and, as always, keeping up with the world of content marketing. From the death of Vine to a proposed telecoms merger, here’s the content marketing news you missed this October.

RIP Vine

Everyone’s favorite six-second video platform is coming to an end. Vine, the kid brother of social media platforms, brought in an era of social creativity, culture, and oddball humor to the internet’s shrinking attention spans. While it was once popular amongst youngsters, the greatest strength of the platform—reviewing videos on loops forever and ever—was, sadly, also its greatest limitation.

In many ways, the death of Vine is a lesson to all content creators about where your work should live. In its Medium post announcing the end, the team behind Vine stresses that, “We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made.” That’s a good thing for the countless content creators who have become Vine stars, but also an important reminder to everyone that channels don’t last forever. Choose where you distribute your content wisely (and always keep a backup).

AT&T wants to buy Time Warner

As reported in October, telecommunications giant AT&T proposed a $100-billion acquisition of Time Warner. Their argument is that the merger of the two companies will produce all kinds of synergies between the “content business” and the telecom and distribution business. The American content arms race began years ago when Comcast bought NBC Universal; this year, Verizon announced plans to buy Yahoo. Telecommunications are buying world-class content and digital properties to compete for digital-minded customers. As The Economist suggests, with AT&T behind it, HBO Now could become “the foundation for a global rival to Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming-video services, an important option as young consumers turn away from expensive pay-TV bundles.”

But the move for “synergized” content has been met with criticism from Wall Street, politicians, and consumers. In a Fortune piece, a hedge fund manager argues that AT&T has a “fundamental misunderstanding of how content works now.” He claims that licensing content would be more lucrative. As The Economist noted, “If the deal goes ahead, the biggest challenge for AT&T would be figuring out how best to use Time Warner’s portfolio in ways that helps the group sell more of their wireless, broadband, and pay-TV services…But it is unclear at least for the foreseeable future how much more value it can offer to its own customers that will not also be available through other distributors.”

It’s a fascinating merger that may or may not come to fruition. It isn’t a simple antitrust case since AT&T is trying to buy a supplier, not a competitor. (It tried to buy competitor T-Mobile in recent years; the deal was rejected). The proposed merger is notable because of how much AT&T—a telecommunications company—wants content under their belt. Content from Time Warner–owned assets like HBO, Turner Broadcasting System (which includes CNN), and Warner Bros. Entertainment offer a breadth of film and TV “content” for today’s audiences and signals a future of content saturation.


  • Good news for influencer marketing: users with verified Facebook profiles can now share branded content on Facebook and tag the associated marketers in their posts, according to a recent Facebook blog post. With this tag update, marketers will receive a notification and are granted access to advanced analytics and other capabilities.
  • In other news, publishers are rethinking those “around the web” ads or “promoted stories” you see at the bottom of content, reports The New York Times. These ads from companies like Taboola and Outbrain have stopped appearing in publications like Slate and The New Yorker, mainly because they link to misleading and/or low-quality content.

That’s all, folks! For more on what happened in content marketing this month, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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