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Content Mixology 101: A Practical Guide to Real-Time Publishing

  |  July 23, 2013   |  Comments

A modern publishing strategy should include four content approaches - original, curated, licensed, and automated.

Publishing at the scale needed for today's real-time readership can be daunting, particularly if you rely solely on content written by your team. Although original content has many benefits, it is expensive and time-consuming. Some publishers hesitate to use external content; they feel that including other sources will weaken their audience hold. But you can turn this perceived weakness into a strength with content mixology. Like the mixologist who adds a variety of ingredients to create an amazing cocktail, top content strategists know that the right mix of content balances speed, depth, format, and coverage that today's consumers demand.

While this may sound like a new concept, major publishers have been practicing content mixology for years. The largest newspapers in the world have historically licensed content from wire services, curated articles from select sources, and added automated content feeds to their websites to supplement local coverage from their own editorial teams. Modern technology helps marketers and publishers of any size use technology to ensure relevant and timely content for a unique content mix.

A modern publishing strategy should include four content approaches - original, curated, licensed, and automated. Finding the right unique mix for your business is all about weighing the attributes of each.

Ingredients for Your Perfect Content Mix

What's the right mix that will allow you to publish with frequency? At my company we created this chart to help our clients better understand the benefits of each approach. Looking at the pluses and minuses of various content types can help determine your perfect mix based on goals, budget, and resources.

content-mixology-guide

Here's a look at the ingredients at your disposal:

Original. Original content is the optimal way to become a resource to readers who value your in-depth point of view on a topic and to drive organic traffic through SEO.

Example: Intuit. Intuit has made a strong commitment to original content on its blog, which covers a variety of subjects of interest to its audience. It has a large staff of writers as well as contributing writers from its community.

Original content is the most costly and time-intensive, but any good content marketing strategy should include some investment here.

Licensed. Many sites invest in a combination of original and licensed content. Newspapers have historically relied on both original reporting and licensed content from AP, Reuters, and Bloomberg. This option brings the reputation of such sources to your site but at a cost, often charged per article or requiring a subscription, making it less scalable for many companies. Emerging licensing options provide more flexible packaging and pricing options to gain access to targeted content pieces and libraries.

Example: The Hartford. Small Biz Ahead from The Hartford uses licensed content provided by NewsCred to build thought leadership to empower insurance agents and small businesses.

According to industry research, B2B marketers opt for licensed content 26 percent of the time vs. original (83 percent) and curation of third-party articles (70 percent). In the end, the idea is to mix multiple approaches.

Curation. Curation offers newer, cost-effective ways to build thought leadership and grow your audience as you establish a real-time approach to content. With the right tools, this option is cost-effective, requires little time, and can even be farmed out to members of your team to express a point of view. You can get the best of both worlds: an original editorial voice coupled with fresh, hand-picked content that is quicker to produce since it requires less writing. Moreover, if your commentary is long enough, it has similar SEO benefits to a completely original piece of content. Even the definition of what's really "original" is changing as the tools and technology continue to make it easier (as well as interesting) to remix original content and create even more unique content experiences.

Example: Cox Media. Cox Media's Rare.us, a new and increasingly popular political site, has mastered the art of curation, with its "Rare Take" commentary and specific selections developing a voice for each editor that helps it connect with readers and keep them engaged.

Example: Swift Communications. Swift Communications' MountainHop website produces popular round-up posts that prove its local authority through comprehensive coverage of a subject or event. Its recent "Complete Guide to 4th of July" provided readers with a resource for holiday planning, driving repeat visitors who know they can rely on MountainHop to provide them with the freshest, latest details and news.

Automation. Content automation does a great job of regularly filling your content experiences with material that is relevant and timely for your audience.

Example: Yahoo Finance. Yahoo Finance uses automated content to power thousands of unique content channels for companies and stocks to deliver fresh and relevant news to its vast readership of stock traders.

While it lacks the personal touch of curation and isn't going to anchor your SEO strategy, it is the lowest-effort content type. An excellent stream can be constructed by choosing the right sources and business rules. Since this will be published to your site automatically it's important to make sure the content results are relevant and you have proper coverage for your audience.

Our chart shows that each content type can be vital to your mix - you just need to weigh the value and cost of each one to find your own recipe for success. That's why we call it content mixology. Like that perfect drink created by a true mix master, a variety of content types help you achieve your publishing and/or content marketing goals. Finding a perfect balance between the various ingredients will allow you to optimize for cost, brand, and revenue while achieving the goal of publishing at the scale needed for our always-on culture.

If you have examples of companies or websites that are doing a great job mixing their content, let me know. Everyone has a go-to cocktail mix. What's your optimal content mix?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Kumin

Matthew has worked in the software and Internet industry for over 18 years and has extensive experience building data, content, and publishing-oriented digital businesses.

Prior to founding PublishThis, Matthew served on the executive management team at Edmunds.com, where as EVP, Media he was responsible for helping grow the Internet's leading automotive site from 2001-2008. While at Edmunds, Matthew oversaw the company’s flagship website, Edmunds.com and led product development for the company's successful web expansion, including its syndication platform that powered the automotive channels for AOL, The New York Times, iVillage, and About.com.

Before that, Matthew helped develop and grow The Studio System, the entertainment industry's premier film and television database. Matthew started his career at Andersen Consulting and received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas in Austin.

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