Why Technology Will Change Content Marketing

by Robert Rose

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published on PublishThis and appears in [a]listdaily as a sponsored post. PublishThis will be holding a webinar on Dec. 10 about this subject which you can register for here.

Albert Einstein (yeah, doesn’t every post start with an Einstein quote these days) once said “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”. And, I think if you ask most marketers these days, you’d get some vigorous head nodding that “um, yeah, we’d agree!!

Certainly two of the biggest trends disrupting business are “big data” and “content”. For the technology-minded (i.e., our technology teams) this means an enormous amount of pressure to get business software to work much more seamlessly across all the channels we have to manage and simultaneously make use of all that wonderful data being produced.

Likewise, marketing’s mandate has expanded, now covering the creation of optimal content-driven experiences across every appropriate channel and the entirety of the customer relationship.

These are new imperatives for both groups that can, in many cases, be simply overwhelming.

So, when it comes to technology to help facilitate all this disruption, you’d think the marketing and technology teams would be best friends at this point; kindred spirits working together to bring these concepts together. You’d like to think they’d be just like two kids riding in the back seat to Disneyland; working together to make the car go faster.

Yes, you’d like to think that.

But the reality is (as every parent knows) quite different. These days the CMO and the CIO are both screaming “are we there yet ” from the back seat. The CMO is holding his finger in the CIO’s face saying, “not touching, not touching”. And the CIO is saying “mine, mine, mine” to every single thing the CMO picks up.

So – let’s look at a method we at the Content Marketing Institute have started to see where technology and marketing are working together to solve some of these challenges.

A new marketing technology model: Built to Adapt

In “Systems Of Engagement and The Future of Enterprise IT, author Geoffrey Moore explains that we are in a “new era of IT.” What he calls “systems of record” (the large backbone IT systems) are now being supplemented and extended by “systems of engagement,” solutions that are built to facilitate communication and collaboration. In describing the importance of this sea change, Moore says:

Amidst the texting and Twittering and Facebooking of a generation of digital natives, the fundamentals of next-generation communication and collaboration are being worked out. For them it is clear, there is no going back. So, at a minimum, if you expect these folks to be your customers, your employees, and your citizens . . . then you need to apply THEIR expectations to the next generation of enterprise IT systems.

Moore specifically analyzes content management and business intelligence applications and points out that the focus must be “on empowering the middle of the enterprise to communicate and collaborate across business boundaries, global time zones and language and cultural barriers, using next-generation IT applications and infrastructure adapted from the consumer space.

Moore is certainly right about the needed changes. But, he takes a long-term view of the transformation. Today, the requirement for marketing to adapt immediately means that this new technology adoption model must be adjusted quickly for the new and evolving realities.

The “content-driven-experiences” stack – a backbone with room to stretch and flex

A new model to facilitate content-driven experiences that provide powerful data-driven insight is starting to emerge within forward-leaning brands that have integrated marketing and technology successfully. Whether driven by marketing technologists (to borrow from Scott Brinker) or actually a hybrid of IT and Marketing strategy – this new model accommodates the need of large enterprises to scale and provide consistent experiences across a large employee base by adapting to the conversational, flexible, and agile nature of today’s marketing organization.

The stack is comprised of three discrete layers that are made up of systems of record at the lower end and become systems of engagement as they move closer to the consumer on the front end. In every case, as they near the surface, they must be more flexible and interchangeable.

This is not a physical architecture of a specific technology solution, but rather a model that marketers can use to begin developing their business requirements for the technology solutions they require.

  • Core Data Management. This is the lowest layer and is the foundation and storage of consumer, content, and transactional data and it serves the global enterprise. It is supported by large databases and closely adheres to standards so that data can be easily extracted and used. Whether cloud-based or closely held within the organization, it should enable information-as-a-service.
  • Engagement Management. This middle layer of technology should be able to interface with anything above and below it. It provides the interface into, and out of, the Core Data Management layer and provides optimization based on business rules that can be applied to display content contextually.
  • Content Channel and Experience Management. This top layer should be as flexible, portable, and/or disposable as any media strategy used to be. Content channels such as YouTube, Facebook, or blogs are the marketer’s new “media buy.” They are important only so long as they are useful. This layer will be constantly changing and morphing so, it should aim for zero-friction in order to add or dispose elements easily.

Content marketing technology – the power to adapt

One of the biggest dangers for enterprise marketing groups today is the temptation to repeat the mistakes made during “Web 1.0.” Just as the ”e-business team” was often separated from the core business in the late 1990’s, so too are social and web experience teams often isolated from both corporate marketing and IT today.

Content marketing and the function of delivering rich digital experiences across any channel require that these teams collaborate on one cohesive strategy. As a result, the experience management technologies facilitating those processes can converge effectively to integrate and manage all three layers: Core Data Management, Engagement Management, and Content Channel and Experience Management.

This new adaptive system will be staffed by flexible teams that will also be challenged to change and rearrange as new strategies are deployed by the enterprise. These de-siloed teams should ultimately work together in the marketing department to generate a phenomenon that scientists call “emergence,” where relatively simple and separate interactions will develop into productive patterns. Then, the whole ultimately becomes much greater than the sum of its parts.

Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt – and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaption. By building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.

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TechNavio Sees Into The Future of Programmatic

“In 2013, more than 65 percent of mobile display ads were traded programmatically and this figure is expected to skyrocket in the coming years,” said TechNavio, a technology and research advisory company in a report predicting what the global advertising market might look like from 2014 and 2018.

The quick growth of in-app advertising is predicted to grow over 24 percent between now and 2018 according to TechNavio. Another driver Mobile video.

“Consumers are spending more time watching videos, browsing the internet, and using other applications on their mobiles, which is persuading advertisers to invest in mobile video advertising.”

Real-time bidding is also predicted to see more growth as well and may increase 3x in the 2014-2018 timespan. While these figures may surprise few, it is interesting to contemplate just how quickly programmatic will take over ad buying as advertisers catch up to consumers on mobile.


Netflix Will Be ‘Everywhere’ In Five Years, Plus Other Thoughts From Ted Sarandos

by Sahil Patel

Netflix hopes to be available “everywhere in the world” within the the next five years, according to the company’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

During an on-stage interview at the 42nd annual Global Media and Communications Conference from investment bank UBS, Sarandos spoke at length about Netflix’s international expansion, as well as how the company’s original programming and content acquisitions strategy will evolve amid all of that growth.

Notably, Netflix recently expanded in Europe, launching in six major countries including France and Germany. Based on the initial data in those markets, as well as others Netflix already operates in, the company has come to realize that demand continues to be high for high-profile US shows.

In fact, until Netflix came on to the scene, most U.S. shows took forever to travel to international markets. “When we launched in the Nordics, they were two years behind on ‘The Walking Dead,’” said Sarandos. “There is a big access issue outside of the U.S. when it comes to TV,” as many buyers outside of the country would wait until a show was a bonafide success in the U.S. before bringing it to their market, he added.

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Unity Adds Analytics

At the Game Monetization conference last week in San Francisco, Unity’s vice persident of online services Todd Hooper took the stage to speak about Disruptors and Game Changers in the game industry. More specifically, Hooper addressed why thinking about mobile vs console is wrong-headed, and that it’s really one game industry — albeit with different screen sizes, UI and business models. Hooper’s talk sought to identify the real key disruptors and lessons to be learned in gaming today, and how best to take advantage of those.

The scope of Unity has become vast, and the revolution among indie developers and their increasing prominence owes a lot to the advance of the Unity engine and development environment. The business model Unity employs (free, with a premium version available) has helped spread the engine, as well as the relentless drive of Unity to support every possible platform. Now Unity is looking to provide a range of additional services to developers beyond its game engine, and that’s an important development for the game community.

Hooper started out by sharing some statistics revealing just how strong Unity has become, and that the number of Unity developers means that some very useful data is available to Unity. In 2011 Hooper noted that Unity had some 100,000 developers, and that’s not the number registered, but the number who actually would launch the software at least once a month and use it. That number is an impressive one, but in three years it’s grown to an astonishing 639,000 monthly active Unity users.

Hooper also noted that 45 percent of mobile games made with third party engines are made with Unity, and the company has seen 500 million desktop games installed that have been built with Unity. That’s an impressive number, but it pales compared to the number of mobile games made with Unity that have been installed: 8.7 billion mobile games worldwide so far. That’s not even all of them, as Hooper noted some big publishers don’t share their numbers with Unity, so the actual number is probably well above 10 billion games installed worldwide.

Hooper, knowing that the majority of Unity’s developers are small shops, mad an important analogy. He likened game development to mountain climbing, where game developers bring together talented people and put forth great effort to create a game. They reach the top of that mountain and feel triumph, but looking out ahead there’s another, even bigger mountain to climb: Connecting with an audience. Hooper noted that “Most developers don’t know how to tackle the second mountain” and Unity intends to help them with that task.

This is why, Hooper explained, Unity purchased game analytics firm Playnomics earlier this year. The company had created an effective set of analytics tools for developers, and Unity’s intent is to bring that to its large development community. “What’s the number one analytics tool used by mobile game developers ” Hooper asked the audience. “We surveyed our developers, and the answer was: No analytics. We mean to change that.”

Hooper shared with the audience some of the statistics gathered from Unity’s immense audience. Android is number one in most markets, of course, but the lead differs between countries. And while there are over 3000 different types of Android devices out there, the number that are asignificant part of the market are quite small. Hooper noted that some brands that may be unfamiliar to US marketers, like Huawei and Xiaomi in China, actually have quite large market shares in that country.

By contrast, the iOS market is much similar, with far fewer models and much less variation in the operating system version. The market is roughly split between iPads and iPhones, at least as far as Unity games are concerned. The big difference with Android users is that iOS users generally upgrade to the latest version of the operating system relatively swiftly. By contrast, less than 1% of the Android market has the very latest version of the operating system installed.

One of the key facts about mobile games is that less than 1 percent pay to play globally, Hooper pointed out. The median spend is $4.99 for men, but only $3.13 for women. The churn rate (the average time before a customer stops playing a game) is vast among mobile games, no doubt due to the free nature of most of the games. Looking at thirty days after download, 89 percent of iOS users fail to return, while 97 percent of Android users drop out. In U.S., Hooper said, seven to nine days is the average churn time, while in most other places in the world it’s two to three days. The total spend for iOS games (among those players who have paid) is $93.77, while Android is $75.27 — compared to web games at $19.13, that’s quite impressive.

Hooper explained that Unity’s plan is to offer analytics as part of its development suite for no cost, attempting to bring as many developers as possible into the world of using analytics to help create better games — and make more money. “Analytics will be turned on in every Unity game by default,” Hooper said, with the intent that this will create widespread knowledge of analytics and usage thereof. Although not every developer may want this, and “You’ll be able to opt out,” Hooper said. Hooper acknowledged that there are plenty of commercial analytics packages, and Unity’s intent is not to supplant those.

“It’s pretty tough to take that data back to a producer and get changes made,” Hooper acknowledged. In most cases, especially when you don’t know the right questions to ask, “The info is not specific enough for developers to take action on it,” Hooper said. Unity is working to provide some of the standard information that most analytics packages provide, but adding a special feature: benchmarking. “This lets you see where you are versus the average game,” Hooper said. “Here is exactly how you can improve your game” Hooper said, showing a screen displaying the difference between the revenue an average game makes after seven days with the results for one particular games.

This ability to direct a developer’s attention to the exact part of the game that needs attention is a critical feature that Hooper believes will be of great value. More than that, though, their tool will recommend which demographic segments to advertise to, ones that are unlikely to monetize.

We should see a bright future for analytics as Unity brings that to hundreds of thousands of developers who aren’t currently using analytics to improve their games. This should help analytics firms generate more business, too, as more developers understand exactly what analytics can do for them and how specific capabilities offered by a vendor can benefit the developer.

One thing is clear: Unity won’t stop looking for ways to help developers make money from games. This will be an interesting space to keep an eye on in the future.

#MustReads: Everything We Learned At [a]list summit: Mobile Marketing

If you missed Dec. 3 [a]list summit, never fear. We had full coverage of the event with our favorite takeaways.

‘If It Doesn’t Work On Mobile, It Doesn’t Work’ Says BuzzFeed’s Terry City: What’s the publisher perspective on the mobile shift and how is BuzzFeed gearing up native content What content is working for them

The State Of Entertainment Marketing: Industry leaders Kristian Segerstrale, COO of Super Evil Megacorp; Peter Levin, President of Interactive Ventures and Games at Lionsgate; Andrew Stalbow, CEO of Seriously; Andy Hess of Epic Games and T.J. Marchetti, CMO of Awesomeness TV gather around for a panel moderated by Jim Louderback. Seriously good insights ensue.

‘If You Make A Movie And There Aren’t Brands In It, It Doesn’t Look Real’ To Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: The veteran producer talks about working with brands and the challenge of scaling content for mobile.

The Mobile Marketing Mix: Where is mobile headed and how rapid are these changes coming How do branded apps fit into the mobile mix

‘Native Advertising Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon’: Native advertising is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t evolving. SpinMedia CEO Stephen Blackwell and Anthem Ventures’ Jon Bauch talk user experience and the future of mobile tech.

2015 Is The Year Of Content Creation: There probably isn’t a social platform that deals with more media content types than Tumblr. David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy for the social blogging site talks about everything from video, to what brands are killing it on the platform, and how Tumblr will never adopt pay-to-reach monetization.

Monetizing Mobile: One of the biggest challenges around the mobile shift for marketers is of course monetization. Mike Vorhaus leads a panelists from Plantronics, mNectar, TextPlus and Ayzenberg.

The Future Of Mobile Marketing: If you haven’t heard, there’s a little change happening in the field of ad buying called programmatic.

Jack and Jack, Zach King and Brittani Louise Taylor Talk Creating Content for Brands: These seasoned content creators already have many campaigns under their belts but even for them, “that 6-second limit can be tough.”

Kristian Segerstrale on Targeting Core Gamers Through Mobile: Super Evil Megacorp’s marketing mastermind breaks the art of targeting core gamers through mobile down to a science.

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura on The Future of Hollywood: Transformers producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura gives his two cents on Hollywood’s future.

Rich Fineza on App Monetization: Veteran entertainment executive Rich Fineza wants Hollywood to get familiar with app monetization.

Jack and Jack on Content Creation: Vine superstars Jack and Jack share insight about putting your branded content game on lock.

2015 Is The Year Mobile Becomes The First Screen For Brands: Insight from [a]list summit on why mobile will occupy the mainstream for brands in the new year.

VIDEO: Lorenzo Di Bonaventura On The Future Of Hollywood

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura is a giant amongst Hollywood producers, with roles in bringing The Matrix, Transformers, and several other high-profile branded franchises to the big screen under his belt.

We caught up with Lorenzo after his keynote on Transforming Hollywood at [a]list summit: Mobile Marketing to hear his thoughts on the future of Hollywood.


The Game Awards Shine

The PlayStation Experience wasn’t the only big event to take place in Las Vegas this weekend, as the community of gamers also flocked to the first ever Game Awards event on Friday night.

The event, set to replace the yearly VGX awards usually hosted by Spike, was aired online across various channels, including YouTube and Twitch, along with game networks like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. The Game Awards were put together by Geoff Keighley, a co-host of the GameTrailers programs who also hosted the yearly Spike awards when they were happening.

Not only was the event a celebration of various game development accomplishments in 2014, but they were also a venue for new game announcements, including the return of Sierra’s King’s Quest franchise (complete with trailer, below) and the debut of other new projects, such as Before and a game based on the Godzilla franchise.


For a first year show, the Game Awards have proven to be a huge success, with Keighley raving about early viewership numbers. “Wow, just saw some initial viewer numbers for @thegameawards – blown away,” he tweeted. “Thank you for tuning in and supporting me.”

With big game companies like Nintendo on board – and a keen interest returning following last year’s lackluster VGX presentation – it appears that the Game Awards will be around for some time. Savvy game marketers will be eyeing next year’s event for more opportunities to make an impression on millions of gamers.