2017 Content Marketing Predictions from the Outbrain Partner Network

Will Fleiss
Will Fleiss

content marketing predictions

The Outbrain Partner Network is an exclusive group of companies that complement our own content discovery services in ways that can take your content marketing to the next level. We’re very excited to be able to showcase some of the brains behind these great companies with these 2017 content marketing predictions.

We asked the following experts what they think will be the biggest changes to how brands succeed with content marketing in the year ahead.

1. Todd Sawicki – CEO of Zemanta

What will be the biggest change to how brands succeed with content marketing in 2017?

Brands are slowly starting to overcome the tyranny of the last click when it comes to online marketing — that is the overemphasis on the last trackable event prior to a conversion. No marketer I know really believes that 100% of the credit should go to the last click and therefore is starting to realize they need to better understand the entire customer journey online. That journey often begins with content and brands realizing they have to consider content as a strategic part of the marketing funnel. Top of the funnel marketing, which content marketing is probably one of the biggest & most important tactics for, will become an area of much greater investment as a result. Digital allows you to map and market at each touch point of the buyer journey and just relying on last click tactics won’t get you as far as those who really focus on creating and investing in content that can start the buyer’s journey.

What will be considered the most effective content format in 2017?

Text-based content will still be the dominant format in 2017, whether that’s a listicle, blog post, article, or more. Text is the most adaptable format to be molded into different environments — desktop vs mobile, different editorial environments, etc. Video is expensive and much more difficult to do well, so while video can drive great engagement it is hard to produce at scale and as easily as text. Images work better with text so without a good underlying story — images struggle to tell enough of a story.

What metrics will be the most important for measuring content marketing in 2017?

In the last year, we have really seen the rise of traditional publishing engagement metrics take root with content marketing. Bounce rates, time on site, page views per visit, % new visitors — classic web analytics metrics. And what’s great is those metrics work whether for inbound or paid traffic. As brands publish content (yes brands as publishers is real) using traditional publishing metrics makes a ton of sense. This also aligns with traditional brand lift measurement which found almost any reasonable brand touchpoint/engagement would drive brand lift. So driving content engagement is becoming what is important.

What are your predictions for content marketing in 2017?

The rise of paid. More and more brands are realizing that content only generates so much traffic on its own. As a result, the ability to drive quality, measurable engagement thru paid content promotion and distribution makes complete sense. Brands realize that getting in front of the their total potential audience is key and paying to do so can be the most effective strategy.

Learn more about Zemanta

2. Mark Simon – Co-Founder and CEO of Brax

What will be the biggest change to how brands succeed with content marketing in 2017?

Embracing the content forms that are taking off: VR/AR, Live video streaming, chatbots. Expect the usual viral hits and total blunders; brands that persevere will benefit.

What will be considered the most effective content format in 2017?

Augmented and Virtual reality (VR/AR) experiences will become the most effective at engagement and brand recall. Since the cost is still high for consumers, pop up and in-store experiences are really amazing opportunities. When you look at Pokemon Go, Google Earth on Vive at the Microsoft store, or the craze around Snapbot & Spectacles; the creative possibilities are fantastic.

What metrics will be the most important for measuring content marketing  in 2017?

Revenue attribution metrics, brand perception, and recall will become more important especially for emerging experiences such as content that draws people to retail locations, special events, etc. What are the best ways to measure a chatbot or VR experience outcome? That is important and will get figured out because revenue and engagement don’t reflect positive or negative experience perception.

What are you predictions for content marketing in 2017?

Two predictions, someone will build a holodeck style proof of concept out of VR tech, a mini VR room instead of wearing a headset. Watch for convergence of Live video streaming and AR.

Learn more about Brax

3. Sameet Durg – Co-Founder, SVP Strategy and Operations of GeistM

What will be the biggest change to how brands succeed with content marketing in 2017?

Long gone are the days of a PR boost to reach all customers with the same messaging that frankly lacks substance. To connect with your customers, Brands must get personal – they have to align the messaging of their campaigns with the entire customer journey. Brands must pull the right levers to find the optimal combination of creative, content, publisher, messaging, and customer targeting when embarking on any paid content promotion.

What will be considered the most effective content format in 2017?

I do believe that articles on third party media sites will still be the most effective content format. Having a layer of authenticity behind any article you are promoting, invokes confidence in customers. They do not feel as if they are being jammed into a credit card transaction or being tricked by the company that is hosting content on its own site. This added layer of authenticity provides credibility to the product or service a company is promoting.

It is important to note that when focusing specifically on content marketing, the articles must be appropriate in length; especially as mobile adoption is increasing rapidly. Companies cannot expect to have a long form article convert at a high rate on mobile devices. Mobile readers are too fickle — we are in a generation where readers need to comprehend information as fast as possible in order to make a decision, especially when considering a product purchase. Additionally, there must be an appropriate signal to noise ratio on any form of content marketing. Keep it focused to the point and make sure you can define what success should look like as a result of any multimedia you push. You don’t want to crowd your content with multiple display ads, for example, that will deter readers and provide a terrible experience.

What metrics will be the most important for measuring content marketing in 2017?

The truth is that it depends. However, no matter what your ultimate KPI is CPA, CPL, CTR, Clicks, etc. Knowing how your users engage with the content is the most important.  At GeistM we track average time on page/scroll behavior and correlate that with our clients ultimate goals. Therefore, with a level of accuracy, we know which content is resonating better with users and use that data to our advantage. For example, if a reader spends 2.5 minutes on an article, but does not complete a sale, we can re-target that user with a more direct experience. On the contrary, if a user spends only 30 seconds on an article, we can re-target that user with another article, trying to garner their interest through a different angle. Understanding how users engage with content is extremely important in determining buyer behavior and how a company should interpret their data.

Lastly, I have to weave in attribution in here somewhere. Last Click Attribution does not make sense as a measure for content marketing. The mindset shift is happening slowly, but marketers have a difficult time explaining that methodology to their organization. Being comfortable with how customers engage with content and tying that into sales data is a step in that direction. We want the attribution data to be accessible for all of our clients here at GeistM because it is extremely crucial to have when assessing the performance of the channel.

What are you predictions for content marketing in 2017?

I predict substantial investment with substantial failure. Most companies hear the buzzword “content marketing” and are quick to scramble resources in fear of falling behind. The problem is many companies don’t realize how or what to execute on.You cannot dip your toes in the water and expect to see results. It is very easy to be turned off by content marketing if done wrong. However, if done right, it could be the strongest source of sustainable customers for any business. I recommend all companies speak to an Outbrain partner to gain more insights prior to any investment, whether they choose to go with our solutions or not.  

Learn more about GeistM


4. Miko Levy – Vice President, Customer Acquisitions of Outbrain

What will be the biggest change to how brands succeed with content marketing in 2017?

More sophistication in the way brands are measuring content will lead into seeing more success with content marketing efforts in 2017. So far measuring success through content has been the #1 challenge for most brands out there. However, the industry is getting more sophisticated, understanding how to measure the true value of content marketing with more complex multi-channel attribution models and lead flows while looking at the entire funnel and not only on the last click.

What will be considered the most effective content format in 2017?

Video, no doubt. And to be more specific a short, digestible video formats. Consumers are being bombarded with so much content these days it’s overwhelming for them to digest it all. The brands that will learn to make the content short and sweet will get more attention from their audience.

What metrics will be the most important for measuring content marketing in 2017?

That really depends on the brand’s KPIs for their content activity. There will be different measurements to put in place for brand awareness content (time on page, shareability, scroll depth, viewability) versus conversion oriented content (form completion, funnel completion, revenue attribution)

What are your predictions for content marketing in 2017?

More players in the market. What we saw in 2016 is that most of the big brands out there have shifted to create a lot of content and I predict we’ll see much more players in the market in 2017, from small to medium businesses to larger e-commerce players. I also believe 2017 will be the rise of marketing tech companies around the content world, supporting brands on their content marketing efforts.

Try Outbrain Amplify

5. David Wolpert – Director of Marketing at SimpleReach

What will be the biggest change to how brands succeed with content marketing in 2017?

Brands have already started embracing content as a sustainable, replicable, and growing advertising model. In 2017, this work will accelerate. Instead of siloing content creation and distribution, content will become an integral part of a savvy brand marketing business. It will supplement sales and support the backbone of a company’s messaging.  

What will be considered the most effective content format in 2017?

The data is clear that video will continue to grow and will be the dominant content form in 2017. Leading brands create an immersive experience that delights and engages an audience. The best of the best include high quality video made stronger when coupled with a mixed media approach. Publishing an article with an embedded video and a shareable graphic optimized for social media gets brands above the noise in 2017.

What metrics will be the most important for measuring content marketing in 2017?

2017 is the year when brand marketers realize that engagement is not as simple as scroll depth, or visits, or clicks. Those metrics don’t take into account what the content format is, what the topic of the content is, who the audience for that content is, what industry the content aims to target, and if the content is sponsored versus owned.

The brands that will excel are those that use engagement scoring to know which content is actually resonating for their target audiences with the right publisher partners. Engagement scoring is not page views multiplied by social shares. It is an algorithmic approach to measurement that accounts for all factors that affect content performance, which gives the true representation of whether or not your content resonates with your audience.

Learn more about SimpleReach

6. Ryan Buckley – CEO of Scripted

I believe long form content will continue to dominate. It’s still what our customers order most frequently, so much so, in fact, that we added 200 words to our “standard blog post” format. So quite literally, what was considered a long blog post has now become the standard length.

There has been a lot of talk about about mobile apps, but what I’m seeing and have read similar opinions on in the tech media, is a trend away from adding more apps to your phone, and instead relying on mobile-friendly websites. Consider your own smartphone — when’s the last time you downloaded a new app? I can tell you that for me it’s been several months. However, I access new mobile websites and web apps all the time.

What does this mean for content? Bite-sized app content is not going to dominate content production. People are reading longer form content on Facebook on their train commutes. That’s what’s getting shared and liked the most. For people driving, podcasts continue to thrive, and I think this recorded written content format will do very well again in 2017.

Finally, the “fake news” phenomenon that sprang up during the presidential election of 2016 will be a recurring issue in 2017. As the major internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter crackdown, the beneficiaries will be well-written, authentic, long-form content. This is a big reason why content marketing will see more growth in 2017.

Learn more about Scripted


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Will Fleiss

Will Fleiss

Will has been doing online marketing for 10+ years, spending time on the agency-side at BKV, Ogilvy, and Converseon and then moving on to startups Knewton and Startup Institute. He lives in NYC with his wife and their cavalier, Luna.

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  • Kourtland| December 21, 2016 at 3:15PM

    Not one mention of social influencers? Social influencers are the best thing since sliced bread in my experience. I’m not talking about celebrities or actors. I’m talking about real influencers in smaller niches.

  • jimm| March 9, 2017 at 5:05AM

    Great stuff,