2019 Content Marketing Trends: Say Goodbye To Big Data And Hello To Big Ideas
There’s a scene in Back to the Future where Marty McFly realizes that the decisions he made in the past are having unexpected and cataclysmic effects on the future. We in the marketing industry are coming to some of these same realizations today. It’s becoming abundantly clear that collecting data without asking, eschewing creativity to chase the click, and giving away content for free are unwise approaches. If 2018 was the year that it all hit the fan, then 2019 is our opportunity to reset the clock.
The biggest content marketing trends of the year are all about recommitting to our audiences, which includes building their trust and focusing on what matters to them most. Here’s what we expect to see more of in 2019.
Goodbye, Big Data
The onset of digital media gave us unprecedented access to data on consumers — everything from the pages they browse and the items they purchase to who they follow and what they say. We collectively rejoiced at the marketing opportunity at hand and proclaimed that “data was the new oil.” But brace yourselves: We’re looking at the end of data collection as we know it.
As it turns out, the people that we were all collecting this info from weren’t exactly thrilled about it. With scandals like Cambridge Analytica making headlines, moguls like Mark Zuckerberg appearing in Congress to defend Facebook, and huge breaches from big companies like Marriott and Equifax, it’s clear that the public is no longer at ease with their personal information being available to anyone and everyone.
In some parts of the world, the government has started to step in. Laws are being passed in California to prevent the collection of personal info without permission, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is putting restrictions in place for all online players. All in all, we’re looking at data backlash.
The biggest result of these turning tides? Companies need to change what they’re bragging about. Instead of boasting about having “an insane amount of data,” companies should be rushing to build credibility by saying: “We don’t collect any data without your knowledge.” Apple has already established that it doesn’t collect any personal info they haven’t told you about, and it’s only a matter of time before other brands start to follow suit.
Instead of having numbers in their back pocket, marketers are going to have to start returning to classic “pull” methods for promotional materials. Maybe you can’t figure out the age and interests of whoever bought a race pass for your marathon, but if you’re sharing great stories about training and running expertise, the audience you want will come to you.
Hello, Big Ideas
This past year was all about experimenting with formats. Everyone and their marketing-degree-holding brother were pumping out multiplatform content, dabbling in everything from podcasts to virtual reality (VR) videos. These formats have the potential for great storytelling, but too often marketers just use them because they’re new and shiny.
In 2019, it’s time to hark back to the basics of marketing. If you have a great idea, derived from a profound insight into your audience, you can share it in any number of ways. Imagine you’re marketing a tourism destination. If you have access to amazing personal stories from a long-time hotel doorman, a simple Q&A article could actually serve you better than a VR experience. Maybe it’s not the newest medium, but it will highlight the character of the individual in a clearer, more engaging way. The bottom line: Ideas should lead the way, not flashy tech.
Subscribers Rule All
As mass media properties struggle to attract advertisers in a competitive market, some of the most well-known media brands are trying something new: selling their content directly to their audience. It’s a model that’s been around since the first newspaper and is now coming back into fashion.
Look at the New York Times’s paywall or Netflix’s subscription model. These are companies that are doubling down on creating great, original content — content so good that people are willing to pay money to access it. This renewed focus on quality is a welcome change to the propagation of clickbait and sensationalized headlines that have dominated social media streams in recent years.
When the content quality level rises on the editorial side, it must rise on the branded side, too. Branded TV shows are now competing against Amazon Prime originals; an educational piece on finance from Chase Bank is now a direct competitor of an editorial deep-dive from The Economist. It might not be cheap, but brands are going to have to match what media properties are doing so well if they want to preserve that direct line to the reader.
Fraudsters Will Be Found Out
Content marketing budgets are expected to hit $412 billion by 2021. When you have that much money flowing, fraud naturally follows. According to a deep-dive from AdPros, about 60% of banner ad traffic is fraudulent (with impressions on fake websites or clicks by bots juicing the numbers). Faux influencers, with follower lists made up of bots and fake engagement, are rampant too.
But the people spending all those billions are catching on, and tech companies have stepped up to weed out the fraud. Third-party content marketing software is available to neutrally verify that media properties can accurately represent their true reach and audience, and that engagement is coming from real people (did 10,000 people from Pakistan really look at an English-language article about New York fashion trends for two seconds each?).
If these trends can teach us anything, it’s that content marketing continues to grow at an incredible pace — and like Marty McFly, we’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. This year we must learn and adapt, with a renewed focus on what our audiences want. Great storytelling, after all, is more than a trend — it’s timeless.
Article written by: Jerrid Grimm