Content Conversations: Is There a Content Bubble?

|Juan Martinez


In case you missed it: Last night, in partnership with Contently, Outbrain launched our monthly Content Conversations meet-up at our global headquarters in New York City. The dialogue between Kyle Monson, founding partner and chief creative of Knock Twice (pictured center) and Brian Clark, CEO and Partner of GMD Studios (pictured right) — moderated by Gilad de Vries, Outbrain’s SVP of Strategy (pictured left) — focused on whether or not a content bubble exists and if the bubble is about to burst.

The conversation began with an attempt to nail down a definition of the term “content.” The speakers unanimously agreed that content must provide entertainment or informational value rather than a traditional sales push. However, each agreed that the lines between content and advertisement had been muddied so much that forming a clear delineation is not a simple task.

“I hate advertorials,” Brian said. “They look like content but have a sales agenda. I’ve met people who would call that content.”

Kyle echoed Brian’s sentiments, stating: “We have a terrible time defining what we do…What part of the ad campaign falls outside of content? Commercials? SEO? Content is everything.”

For Brian, content marketing is a psychological practice meant to create intimacy between brands and customers, he said. “Content marketing is about creating emotional closeness (or propinquity). If you live in an apartment building, you’re more likely to be friends with people who live on your floor. Unless you live by the stairs, then you’re likely to have friends on different floors.”

Delivering sales value from propinquity has become a major concern for CMOs, Brian and Kyle said, although both agreed that content should go beyond simple ROI metrics.

“I worry when CMOs tie [content marketing] campaigns [only] to [ROI] results,” Kyle said. “You can burn through CMOs that way.”

“Because we’re in that era, that must mean the bubble burst a long time ago, right?” Brian asked, rhetorically.

“Most of us will be fine if the bubble pops,” Kyle responded. “I get nervous when you see content everywhere.”


Later in the evening, Brian followed up on this theme by saying, “The more democratized content creation becomes the harder it is to make a living at it. Not everyone can play in a band.”

The conversation also touched on why SEO should not be top-of-mind when creating content.

“The people I know who make a ton of money understand Google arbitrage,” Brian said, explaining the reasons why good search results do not necessarily indicate successful content creation. “Mesothelioma: Lawyers pay a ton of money for that keyword. So people go back and write an article for that word so that it shows up at the top of search results.”

Gilad said brands should focus on driving traffic to their content, as opposed to sitting and waiting for customers to find it on search engines. “If you produce content and wait for traffic to come, that’s not content marketing, that’s content waiting,” he said.

“If you’re focused on SEO, you want to drive traffic back to great content,” Gilad added. “And then consumers will share it. Link-building becomes less important and humans become more important.”

Each of the speakers agreed that video and mobile content have become major components of the content creation industry, and that establishing valuable key-performance-indicators prior to a campaign’s launch is important to determining whether or not content marketing efforts are effective.

With regards to mobile specifically, Kyle suggested mobile content marketing campaigns be handled by marketers and technologists with mobile backgrounds. Brian agreed, but added that some content can and should be repurposed for mobile with little additional effort.


When asked by an audience member whether or not marketers were creating too much content, Brian referenced Steve Rosenbaum’s book, Curation Nation, in which Rosenbaum likens content marketing to film editing.

“An editor always films a bunch of stuff but only chooses to show the good stuff,” Brian said.

Join us on September 19th, when Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai moderates a discussion between Lewis D’Vorkin,  Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media and Annalisa Camarillo, Senior Manager of Executive Initiatives at NetApp. Click here to RSVP. 

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Juan Martinez

Juan is the Content Strategy Manager at Outbrain. He is responsible for determining the overall tone and editorial direction of... Read more

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  • Curtman40| March 14, 2013 at 12:00AM

    I agree and this is where those who understand the psychological aspect will succeed and those who don’t will not.


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