Our 2014 Content Marketing Predictions, Ranked
A year ago, various members of the Contently team made predictions about what would happen in the content marketing world in the year ahead. From worst to first, here’s how we did.
20. At least one writer will win a journalism award for a story produced on behalf of a brand. —Sam Slaughter, VP of Content
My boss, Sam, swung big with this one, and boy did he miss. We’re still years away from branded content winning any journalism awards, but when it happens, it’ll be fun to see Jeff Jarvis’ head explode.
19. Infographic overload will hit us, and we’ll finally start seeing fewer of them by next fall. —Jonah Bliss, Director of Marketing
After the apocalypse, the only things that will survive are cockroaches, infographics, and Gawker.
18. Instagram will develop feeds (god willing) allowing individuals to filter content to different audiences and followings for different themes of work. —Elisa Cool, VP of Sales
Nope. Didn’t happen.
17. “Native advertising” will cease to be a buzzword or a bugaboo. Instead, both brands and publishers will talk about creating great stories. —Sam Slaughter, VP of Content
While native advertising grows, skepticism—and straight-up freakouts—about the practice are still dominating the media conversation.
16. At least three brands will recruit a big-name journalist to helm their media division. —Joe Lazauskas, Editor-in-Chief
While Microsoft, Basecamp, T Brand Studio, and several other brands and content marketing shops hired journalists with impressive résumés, no “big names” of note jumped to the “dark side” in 2014.
15. We’ll see a trend towards “slow content.” —Margit Detweiler, Strategist
For the past 15 years, media minds have been optimistically predicting that long reads will finally begin to win out over listicles, and for 15 years, it hasn’t happened. Maybe in 2015?
14. Expect the return of the Esso Newsreel and the Camel News Caravan. —John Hazard, Director of Contently Studio
While brands underwriting editorial content is on the rise—such as when Ford underwrote AOL’s “This Built America” series—brands sponsoring straight news still makes people a little queasy. Rightfully so.
13. The “Red Bull effect” will inspire more companies to take a page from the soft drink/extreme sports/music brand’s uber-cool style guide. —Dori Fern, Strategist
A number of brands tried this in 2014—specifically, everyone who worked with Complex—but we’ve yet to see anyone replicate Red Bull’s unique success.
12. Brands will take the issue of business results seriously and start tying publishing results to business results. —Shane Snow, Co-Founder/CCO
This conversation has begun, but brands are still struggling to effectively track content back to their bottom line.
11. User experience will count—marketers need to blow their consumers away with well-thought-out experiences that are easy and enjoyable to use. —Kelsey Rahn, UX Designer
Brands certainly upped their content design game on desktop this year, but they’re still struggling to design groundbreaking mobile experiences.
10. Agencies will announce mini content shops/garages with silly names. —Elisa Cool, VP of Sales
This happened, and they all pretty much follow the same formula: (agency name) + (content marketing buzzword) + STUDIO.
9. The agency game will change—expect to see a lot more standalone “custom publishing” houses emerge. —Colin Grigsby, Account Director
Yep, this is happening pretty much every day. Is the name Herodotus taken yet?
8. More companies invest in the long view of brand publishing and hire in-house chief content officers. —Dori Fern, Strategist
IMG, StyleHaul, and Machinima were just a few of the brands to hire chief content officers in 2014.
7. B.S. metrics will die. —Paul Fredrich, VP of Product
The rebellion against the pageview and vanity social metrics was surprisingly strong in 2014, but despite Tony Haile’s most valiant efforts, they remain alive and powerful.
6. The brand publishing arms race will escalate as brands battle to one-up each other. —Shane Snow, Co-Founder/CCO
This started to happen in 2014, particularly in the finance industry, but by and large, brands have yet to pull out the big guns.
5. Branded content will continue to advance in volume and quality. —Matthew Rothenberg, Strategist
This was a safe prediction, but it certainly came true. Branded content is getting better, but when will it get great?
4. Photography! Data visualization! Video! These things enrich storytelling and we’ll see a lot more of them this year. —Kelsey Rahn, UX Designer
Brands undoubtedly created a lot more multimedia content this year, thanks in part to upstart publisher studios like the ones at Vox and The New York Times.
3. Transparency will become a major buzzword as deceptive content strategies get brands in trouble. —Joe Lazauskas, Editor-in-Chief
Nailed it! From Verizon’s Sugarstring, to Chick-fil-A’s Let’s Gather, to mega-sponsored content site Collectively, plenty of deceptive content plays got brands in hot water.
2. By the end of 2014, every major publisher will have a sponsored content offering. —Shane Snow, Co-Founder/CCO
The New York Times and the Guardian were two of the last publishers to add sponsored content to their advertising offerings, but both jumped on board this year. The question isn’t whether you’re doing sponsored content, it’s how you’re doing it.
1. 2014 will be for content what 2010 was for social—everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon, but not everyone is going to be doing it equally well (naturally). —Rob Haber, Director of Accounts
This is one of my favorite analogies, and it’s dead-on: Content marketing is still in its formative stage. Will 2015 be the year it has its Bar Mitzvah? For that, check out our 2015 predictions.
Verdict: TrueImage by Piotr Marcinski