21 Content Marketing Predictions for 2016

In late 2014, we made 17 predictions about the content marketing industry for 2015. We were on the money for most of our guesses (distribution took over), but some of our forecasts may have been ahead of their time (Joe Pulizzi never stopped loving orange).

But if you compare those predictions to what we expect to happen in 2016, you can see just how much content marketing has exploded. We’re not just talking about YouTube influencers and bad buzzwords anymore; content has infiltrated every aspect of marketing, meaning there’s a lot more at stake over the next 12 months.

As marketers try to stay ahead of the curve, here are our 21 biggest predictions to pay attention to in 2016:

1. The trend of brands launching serious content studios/brand newsrooms/content centers of excellence will explode fivefold. Simultaneously, many hot takes will be written in Ad Age about how this is a giant waste of money. (Tweet this!)

—Joe Lazauskas, Editor-in-Chief

2. Digital agencies will replace the word “advertising” with “content” via CTRL-F in all of their outgoing vendor RFPs. (Tweet this!)

—Brett Lofgren, Chief Revenue Officer

3. Brands will figure out that content is not just a marketing tool, but also an organizational tool. Marketers, in turn, will connect the ROI of content to company-wide goals in just about every department. Then they’ll get creative about ways to ask for money. (Tweet this!)

—Erin Nelson, Marketing Editor

4. We’ll see more branded content in the form of GIFs, interactive infographics, web series, and event live-streaming. Brands will need to experiment with just about any form of digital storytelling as the competition for attention time only gets fiercer. (Tweet this!)

—Ari Kepnes, Content Strategist

5. We’re going to start seeing a lot more quantifiable bottom-funnel influence from PR. PR practitioners will work with sales and marketing teams to attribute leads to press coverage and earned speaking opportunities through tools like Bitly, Marketo, and Salesforce. (Tweet this!)

—Ann Fabens-Lassen, Communications Manager

6. Over the last few years, celebrities started investing in tech companies en masse. This year we’ll see a bunch of them start media hubs. Zooey Deschanel and Ashton Kutcher were early to the game; in 2016, everybody’s jumping in. (Tweet this!)

—Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer

7. Next year, content marketers and media buyers will get married. Some literally, more figuratively. (Tweet this!)

—Joe Coleman, Chief Executive Officer

8. Creative agencies will increasingly look to build, partner, or buy content technology solutions to integrate into their full creative offering. (Tweet this!)

—Ray Cheng, VP of Marketing

9. Smart brands will move toward centralized content operations to avoid those awkward moments when one team publishes something that contradicts another… I mean, to be more efficient. (Tweet this!)

—Elisa Cool, VP of Brand Development

10. The smartest brands will publish less in 2016, putting more emphasis on larger editorial projects. Blog posts are just too ubiquitous at this point. It’s easy to write 600 words about the latest trending topic, but it’s better to write 2,000 words on something that will shake up your industry. (Tweet this!)

—Jordan Teicher, Senior Editor

11. We’ll see the “10xification” of content. Yes, I just made this word up, but the point is the best brands will be 10 times better at content and relationship building than the rest of the market. There’ll be a very clear separation between the leaders and the suckers. (Tweet this!)

—Paul Fredrich, VP of Product

12. There will be an increasing awareness that agencies are outsourcing their content, which will harm their reputations to the point that people no longer see them as experts.

—Dustin Abanto, Inside Sales Manager

13. Native ad studios inside media companies will begin to transition away from producing advertorial, and focus more on content strategy and branded content instead. A lot of them already do this (think Time Inc. and The New Republic), but as advertorial’s many weaknesses become clearer (confusing to readers, minimally effective, and expensive) other studios will become more like full-fledged content agencies rather than just native ad agencies. (Tweet this!)

—Dillon Baker, Associate Editor

14. The return of the slideshow. (Tweet this!)

—John Hazard, Director of Enterprise Services

15. We’ll enter a new era of SEO. Companies like Dose Media are riding that wave by using algorithms and predictive analytics to create content that they know readers will want to share. I predict that marketers will jump on this bandwagon but will jump off just as quickly when they realize this is no different than the content farms that churned out text overstuffed with keywords. (Tweet this!)

—Amanda Weatherhead, Distribution Manager

16. SEO managers and content creators will merge into the same role, rather than sitting in two separate departments. (Tweet this!)

—Adam Blake, Demand Generation Manager

17. Expect predictive analytics to become a must-have feature this year. Machine learning has the ability to transform the industry by informing everything from ideation to conversion. Those who fail to embrace it will be left in the wake of those who do. (Tweet this!)

—Alex Combs, Data Scientist

18. Brands will follow the lead of publishers like The New York Times and BuzzFeed in using Facebook as the most cost-effective content distribution channel. They’ll spend less money on getting their content seen on Twitter and LinkedIn, and more on reaching a percentage of Facebook’s 1.55 billion users. (Tweet this!)

—Kieran Dahl, Social Media Editor

19. The buzzword bubble is as infinite as the universe, and we will continue to see it expand until Judgement Day. (Tweet this!)

—Sam Slaughter, VP of Content

20. Leaders who once identified solely as marketing professionals will increasingly take on titles that blend both marketing and sales leadership such as Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Commercial Officer. With the rise of this new type of blended leader, the expectations for justifying the ROI on content marketing efforts will continue to intensify. (Tweet this!)

—Richard Sharp, Head of Product and Customer Marketing

21. Someone will ask me to contribute to another “Content Marketing Predictions” post for TCS in the next 12 months. (Tweet this!)

—Jess Black, Customer Marketing Manager



Image by Nikki Zalewski

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