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The Future of Content Marketing – 2016 & Beyond8 min read

8 min read

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[/vc_raw_html][text_output]As we approached the end of last year I found myself, as many marketeers do, compelled to write a post on the well-trodden idea of ‘The Future of Content Marketing’. The slush of mulled wine, incessant good will and mellifluous Christmas cheer does nothing to quell lingering concerns about a topic shrouded in such unoriginality.

A feverish internal debate ensues; will a melee of buzzwords and speculation suffice? Panic. How can one person possibly hold such foresight to produce well-informed original ideas about the approaching marketing landscape?

I review the usual tripe that litters the Internet for clues…I read that The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) announce ‘Content Marketing’ the 2015 Marketing Word of the Year’. I point and laugh with contempt at ‘ad-blocking’, ‘programmatic’ and ‘disruption’. Losers.

I think.

I turn to my book The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – it’s a book about predictions, after all. Nothing. To add insult to injury, I now also feel further away from understanding baseball.

Then, one December afternoon after the aforementioned mulled wine settled, I’m struck by the perspicacity of a Content Croudie from our network (FYI, Croudies are the diverse and talented individuals that make up the Croud network, ranging from expert digital strategists, journalists and social media geniuses).

To make any sort of prediction, in a discipline as varied and fast growing as content marketing, you need a serious breadth of understanding… and I can go one better. I have a network of content pros, and clearly these digital veterans have some up-to-date opinions on where a whopping £6.5 billion estimated spend on Content Marketing from UK brands is going in 2016.

With the collective force of the Croud network behind me, I screw up the  ‘Year of the Mobile’ post I was drafting and dive head first into the all-seeing minds of 5 Croudies who have picked out the top biggies for 2016 and beyond.  Make a brew, sit back and read on…


1. The Rise of Video Ads

“With Bing, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook already offering video advertising, all pointers suggest Google will soon be adopting video promoted ads in the search results.

As the owners of You Tube, no one has better insight into the efficacy of video as a means of driving brand interest than Google. Based on the introduction of TrueView for shopping in 2015, then the September announcement that TrueView campaigns would now be part of the core AdWords interface, we should expect to see video ads displayed on Google search results within a matter of months.

The ramifications of this are immense, and not just for businesses that can take advantage of video’s substantial power to connect with customers. On the broader level, Google’s incorporation of video illustrates a cultural shift towards multimedia and away from traditional written language which should send shivers down every book-lovers spine.”

Piers-Moore-Ede – Croudie, Writer & Journalist

Piers- Moore- Ede

2. Meaningful, Long-term Relationships

“I predict more meaningful influencer outreach by brands in 2016. I think brands will be looking to form longer-term relationships with influencers, so that the working partnership is stronger and more powerful.

Why is it big for 2016?

Many brands are already tapping into the power of influencer outreach, making deals with bloggers to secure original content, social media posts and endorsements for their products and services. At the moment this tends to be a one-off agreement, often it’s in return for a gift or a fee.

Take the well-established London fashion blogger, Susie Bubble. She has over 270,000 followers on Twitter, the same on Instagram, and a loyal following on her blog Style Bubble, which is regularly cited as a top fashion blog. Brands such as jewellery company Georg Jensen have gifted her items in return for a mention. Although this is great for brand awareness, it’s a stand-alone tactic, which only has one chance of working.[/text_output][text_output]sacaiwindNikeLab x Sacai plush Windrunner worn with Junya Watanabe top, Céline trousers and Dior trainers.  

In 2016, we’ll see more brands looking to establish long-term relationships with influencers in the world of sport, fashion and food. By identifying and building partnerships with brand ambassadors, businesses can expect better awareness and reach through regular posts about them, in varying contexts.  This should inspire their readers and allow the influencers to tell a better story about their preferred brands, rather than a one-off ‘sales’ focused post.

Sealskinz, a Croud client, recently engaged with brand ambassador Sandy Plenty. Sandy was a key part of the recent #IAmEndurance campaign and helped form compelling, inspirational content with long term value.”

Alison Battisby – Croudie, Social Media Consultant & Founder of Avocado Social.

Alison Battisby


3. Visual, virtual and interactive storytelling

“There’s just too much digital noise out there, which means getting your brand to stand out is becoming increasingly difficult. The way that people now consume content means that some stories need to take on a new dimension in order to truly connect with audiences. Enter interactive and virtual storytelling.

What better way to immerse someone in your brand than to transport them inside a story to experience it for themselves? Apple, Microsoft, Tesla and Honda et al are beginning to do interactive storytelling particularly well, however sometimes you need to look beyond the usual suspects to find out who is really innovating. Project Syria, for example is an immersive Journalism Experience and a fantastic example of what VR can achieve.

2016 will be the year where virtual storytelling becomes an exciting new content marketing tool for some brands. It may not be a mainstream marketing technique for a few years, but in the coming months it will certainly make an impact.

The fact that the Sundance Film Festival this year plans to show 30 virtual reality stories and Facebook and Samsung plan to release a new virtual reality headset shows just how much potential virtual storytelling has. By giving customers the chance to walk in other people’s shoes and experience virtual worlds, brands will enter into a whole new realm of creativity and innovative campaigns.”

Kiri Nowak – Croudie, Blogger & Freelance Content Specialist

 Kiri Nowak

4. Integrated Publishing

“Earlier this year, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a technology that allows select publishers to publish fast interactive articles on the social media site. By interfacing the company’s content management system directly with Facebook, publishers can seamlessly post new content into users’ feeds. Facebook won’t be the only one operating in this fashion.

Until now, it’s been standard wisdom for content marketers that content should live on a marketer’s own platform, that is, their website, their mailing list, and their blog. With the launch of Facebook Instant Articles, this changed.

What may be a subtle and imperceptible shift for users, is in effect, a massive change for content marketers. Instant Articles is still only available to a small group of publishers, but if and when the technology opens up to company blogs, it will give brands a bigger opportunity and incentive to bring great writing and content to the Newsfeed itself. What we’re likely to see is channel-specific content tailored to niche audiences that gets the greatest impact.

In 2016, we’re likely to see more options for publishing opening up to publishers and content marketers alike. While Facebook may be leading the change, other platforms are unlikely to stay far behind. Snapchat, for instance, is already allowing individual users to tell stories of their experiences. “Snapchat Stories” strings photos together to create a narrative that lasts for 24 hours.


What this means essentially, is that in 2016, the lines between social media and content will be further blurred.

As social interactivity and social technology progresses brands will need to continue to evolve digitally to keep ahead of competition”

Mridu Khullar Relph – Croudie. Journalist, Writer & Entrepeneur

 Mridu Khullar Relph


5. The Internet of Things

“Surprisingly, the concept of the IoT (Internet of Things) has been around for quite some time. However, as technology continues to rapidly advance, these data-gathering “smart” devices will become more accessible to consumers and present in our everyday lives, both at work and at home. I predict that the IoT will be big news through 2016, especially for content marketing.

Cisco predict that by 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. Yet this will no longer be focused around just mobiles, tablets and desktop computers. Instead, everything could be connected, from our fridges, washing machines and toasters, to our headphones and even our front doors!

For content marketers, this brings exciting new opportunities. Our fridges could be serving us recipes based on our available ingredients and our washing machines could give us relevant advice after learning our washing habits. However, it will also become much more than singular pieces of content, instead focusing on building rich, connected experiences.

Expect to see lots of exciting changes to content marketing because of the IoT in 2016!”

Elizabeth Harmon – Croudie, Social Media Consultant, Blogger & Copywriter

 Elizabeth Harmon[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][visibility type=”hidden-desktop”][gap size=”20px”][/visibility][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”ups-sidebar-2″][/vc_column][/vc_row]