What Will Content Marketing Look Like in 2024?

By Sam Slaughter October 14th, 2014

Unless your name is Nostradamus or Doc Brown, guessing far into the future is a tough business. But predicting trends in marketing a few years out can give smart brands a huge jump start on their competition, and we’d be fools (and bad businesspeople) not to try to figure out what’s coming next. A few prescient souls and some educated guessing can go a long way in the marketing world.

Last week, the hosts of OneSpot’s Unify Conference decided to find out where content marketing was headed, putting together a panel of experienced content marketing execs and asking them: Where will content marketing be in 2024?

It will be (according to our notes), higher in quality, better targeted, and more focused on audience behavior, among other things.

“Content plus data is nirvana,” said Dee Salomon, CMO of MediaLink. And while some Buddhists might beg to differ, the consensus was that the content marketing world is headed towards better, more thoughtful storytelling combined with data-driven efficiency. What that means for the industry, according to Rebecca Lieb of Altimeter Group, is more convergence between content marketing and all the rest of a brand’s paid advertising. “Content marketing,” she said, “is the atomic particle of all the rest of a brand’s marketing campaigns.”

For another panelist, Contently CEO Joe Coleman, the introduction of better metrics and better data will be the primary driver of content spend—and content quality. “If you can prove through data that good content produces better results, you’ll start to see a big shift [in budgets] right away,” he said.

Another theme was organization. Currently, brands are tackling content in a host of different ways, and content groups often work in a bit of a vacuum, both in terms of technology and organizational structure within a given brand. But the consensus was that there will be a major shift over the next few years as technology plays a bigger role in helping brands become successful storytellers by helping people and marketing platforms sync up.

“Content technology that talks to advertising technology that talks to marketing technology” will be the primary driver of convergence, said Lieb.

Efficiency will also be key to helping brands publish more effectively, according to Coleman. “Right now the biggest hurdle brands have is just getting [content] out the door,” he said. Learning what content performs best and how to double down on it is key going moving forward, he elaborated. To do this, brands need to start using the right kind of content measurement software.

“For larger brands, changing minds and connecting back to traditional brand metrics is key,” he said. “Measuring the brand lift [of content] is ultimately what we need to get to.” That constitutes a big shift from current measurement tools, said Coleman, which are based primarily on traditional metrics like pageviews.

Most importantly, it seems everyone agrees that the greatest shift will be in the quality of content that brands produce.

“We’ll stop talking about marketing and start talking more about content development,” said Steve Rubel, the chief content strategist at Edelman. “How do we create content that cuts through increasingly limited attention? We need to look at it more as an art form than a marketing form.”

“I hope we get to a point where editors become really beloved again,” echoed Salomon, “and where we strive to be more interesting, and we push mediocre content to the side.”

It was Rubel, though, who got the last word. “The only thing for certain in the next ten years,” he said, “is two to three Super Bowl wins for the Jets.”

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