Preventing Publisher-Driven Content Marketing From Becoming a Legacy

This week I spoke with Damon Ragusa, president of idio, about content marketing and the role it plays for publishers. I was impressed with his thoughtful and refreshing approach to the subject His points are valid and worth consideration. So much so that I’ve given him the reins for this week’s column. Take it away Damon…

This week I read about Federated Media’s sale of its content marketing arm to LIN Media. A big part of that business is a programmatic buying piece called sovrn. The rest of the business, also going to LIN, was referred to as the “legacy content marketing business.”

Now, I’m generally skeptical about expressions like “content marketing” and “big data” that seemingly emerge out of nowhere and are infinitely vague. To me, businesses have been doing content marketing since the expression “marketing” was invented. But what I do like about these expressions is that they shine a spotlight on areas that are emerging in importance. Yes, we’ve been doing “content marketing” for a long time. But given the transformations over the past five to 10 years within digital marketing, the focus on content marketing and the realization that it delivers real bottom-line results to the business is hugely positive. So to hear about a content marketing business as “legacy” makes me pause.

Legacy content marketing. Two or maybe three years into it and we are already calling something “legacy.” That’s a scary speed. On one hand, I’m disturbed by it because the art of creating content to engage customers will never be a legacy business. On the other hand, I like it. It draws a line in the sand between content creation and content distribution. Both need to live together, but the future for publishers is in content distribution, specifically the adoption of automation and analytics. I like to call this next phase of content marketing “content intelligence.”

For publishers, content intelligence employs big data to aid in the process of content creation. Second, it automates content to constantly improve the customer experience. While content creation itself will never be completely automated, the process of serving the right content to the right individual that completely engages the reader on any channel can only be fully realized through automation. Just as much of digital advertising is now served automatically with its price set in real-time, the world of content is headed in the same direction. While it will be produced and consumed by humans, it will be served, measured, and optimized by algorithms and computers.

Content intelligence technology gives publishers both editorial insight (what are the most popular content topics that your audience is engaging with?) and customer insight (what content topics and interests is this person/are these people interested in?) from the automated semantic tags we generate from their content and customer interactions.

There is an emerging class of technology solutions that can handle the task of automatically uncovering the metadata in your content. Fundamentally, these technologies use content analytics and semantic extraction engines to understand the meaning behind each piece of content. It allows a computer to understand the topics, people, places, companies, and concepts in the content.

So, while it’s simple for People to know that its readers like reality stars and the royal family, it’s not so easy for the rest of the publishing world. Publishers need to automatically understand the most engaging topics and phrases for their audience. To that end, automation allows a real-time evaluation of an individual reader’s interests and to know when those interests change. The reader’s interests may change but the experience cannot. It must stay relevant and positive and content intelligence technology will help you see it.

Publishers have focused on creating quality content and scaling it. If we stop there, we could call that a legacy. But if we don’t look at every interaction as a data-generating, learning experience we will continue to dramatically undervalue the content we have created. But if publishers embrace content intelligence, and the data it produces, content becomes a bridge to ad revenue. That’s a good legacy.

Damon Ragusa is president of idio and is responsible for the formation and commercialization of the North American operations of this growing U.K.-based marketing technology firm. He provides global vision and strategic leadership for the firm and its products, working closely with its customers and partners to ensure success. He is a seasoned software and analytics executive with experience across a wide range of functions serving the marketing organization. In 2008 he founded ThinkVine, a marketing mix optimization software company.

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