SXSW Content Marketing Buzzword Guide

South by Southwest is big on a lot of things. Startup swag. Taco trucks. Stalker apps. QR codes, which seem to gather in Austin like an extinct species attempting to repopulate.

And buzzwords. They just seem to be bigger in Texas. Here’s what you need to know before you go:

Content Marketing

Who uses it: Everyone. SEO marketers trying to steer their careers out of a tailspin. Opportunistic MBAs attempting to build branded content farms. Agency folks touting a new content service that they just made up six days ago.

What they think it means: Doing a bunch of random crap and praying that it works. Blog posts! Vines! In the cloud, dude. It’s all about the content marketing cloud.

What it really means: The overarching practice of creating content to promote a brand or product. At this point, it pretty much encapsulates everything that isn’t a static ad (print, display, billboard, etc.) or a radio spot. (Those still exist, right?) Content marketing has even swallowed social media marketing, which is so 2012.

Brand publishing

Who uses it: All the cool kids cherishing the few months before it’s co-opted by every marketer this side of Madison Avenue.

What they think it means: Creating branded content that doesn’t feel like a slimy advertorial or a display ad in sheep’s clothing.

What it really means: The practice of a brand telling stories about the things they care about, their brand, and their brand’s products in a way that’s genuinely engaging and not promotional.


Who uses it: People who should be fired.

What they think it means: That they created a clever new word for content marketing.

What it really means: That the buzzwords are mating and multiplying. Run for your life.

Native ad

Who uses it: Publishers desperate for a new revenue stream. Agencies freaking out over a dwindling media spend. Ad-tech dudes who know that talking about banner ads at a party is never going to get them laid. Ever.

What they think it means: A sponsored listicle on BuzzFeed.

What it really means: An ad that mimics the experience around it. Google search ads are the granddaddy of native ads online. Sponsored Facebook Newsfeed posts, Promoted Tweets, and, yes, BuzzFeed Sponsored Posts are all examples of native ads.

Synonym: Sponsored content

Brand Newsroom

Who uses it: Hip CMOs. Agencies that just dropped a half mil designing a command center with more screens than Minority Report. Old-school media types while rolling their eyes.

What they think it means: Gathering a bunch of people in a room and totally crushing the Super Bowl and Oscars. What time is it? IT’S REAL-TIME.

What it really means: The fundamental restructuring of brand communications to mirror those of a media organization able to publish great stories swiftly; the group of people who publish content on behalf of your brand consistently, improving and growing an audience over time.

Brand Journalism

Who uses it: All those people talking about brand newsrooms like it’s the latest Beyoncé album.

What they think it means: All the content a brand publishes.

What it really means: The specific practice of a trained journalist reporting on the inner happenings of a brand on behalf of the brand.

Content Marketing Cloud

Who uses it: People who apparently think that you just can’t wait to get rid of your content marketing mainframe.

What they think it means: That you will give them lots of money.

What it really means: Cloud-based software that lets you manage your content marketing operation and analyze your success. Not to get too SaaSy (see what we did there?), but is there any other kind?

What’s the deal with the Content Strategist? It’s something we created at Contently because we believe in a world where marketing is helpful, and businesses grow by telling stories that people love. Take advantage of our tools and talent and come build that world with us.

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