Will I recognise Content Marketing when I come back from parental leave?

When working in content marketing, it sometimes feels like if you leave your desk for a loo break, by the time you're back there’s been some kind of seismic shift in the way we create video, or a new data tool, or (heaven forbid) a new name for the industry itself.

So, as I head into an extended period of parental leave (off to add to the population of Earth. You’re welcome), I’m considering what might change whilst I’m away from such a such a rapidly changing industry. Of course, I'll be reading the latest blogs, watching webinars, tweeting as I head to the hospital, and will naturally be scouring the millions of helpful emails which land in my inbox whilst I breastfeed – but you know, I may just miss something. It wouldn't be the first time ...

Looking back, here’s some of the major changes I’ve failed to predict, in my 15+ years in ‘content’.

Mobile everything

I still remember the day that I finally got that Blackberry. Woop! Never again would I be tied to a desk. I could read my emails anywhere in the world. I was free! I could work 24/7!

How many of us mere mortals understood that not only would we soon be liberated from our desktops and be able to do almost anything on our mobiles, but also that our mobiles would enable us to do so much more than a computer could ever hope to do?

It shows in our behaviour: 50% of web traffic is from mobile, up 30% on 2016 (Source: STATCOUNTER, JAN 2017).

We are now living in a mobile-first world people. Make it small, make it portrait, make it local, make it fast loading. This is not a drill.

The rise and rise of mobile video

When I feel like I just don’t believe that’s something going to be huge. I remind myself of the time I announced to a room full of colleagues, at Red Bull no less, that ‘no one was ever going to watch real video on their mobiles’. Good one Christie.

Looking down at my Nokia screen, watching a grainy, 20 second MMS video of someone backflipping a BMX bike or some such awesomeness, I just couldn’t fathom that technology would evolve so completely to not only enable something to happen easily, but to become an essential part of many people’s lives.

In fact now, video is about 74% of internet traffic. (Source: Cisco). And according to Google's Consumer Barometer 46% of under 34 year olds watch video on their phones every single day – and smart marketers are getting onboard.

Man I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong.


Following on from the above two points – from the point of view of a video specialist working in content marketing, perhaps the most significant, if not a little pedestrian, example of change is the now almost mandatory presence of subtitles in the video content we make for social channels (which is most of it).

In as little as 12 months, subtitles have gone from an advisable extra to give content in the feed a little boost, just in case your audience doesn't click for sound, to an absolutely necessary component of video made for social. If you're not publishing your videos with closed captioning or subtitles, you are probably not being 'heard'.

Going native. Advertorials are cool again.

When I joined King Content in 2015, the business had recently launched a new division. This team was focused on co-creating content with publishers, and amplifying content in their environments in native formats. This was called ‘native advertising’, and it was the latest thing.

When I started my career in PR way back in 1998, this was called ‘advertorial’, and it had been around for ages. It was not the latest thing.

It's nice when things get a sexy new name and people are excited, don't you think? In all seriousness, thanks to digital and the cool creative formats available to us, it really is a very different kettle of fish and we have seen some really clever, high value examples of content created in this way. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent my life yearning to see my face as a taco shell.

Now the fad has passed, and the 'native advertising' content opportunities remain, let's continue to focus on great content, regardless of the name, and deliver value to our audiences and clients.

These are just a few of the trends – now routine parts of our industry – that I failed to see coming. The lesson? That predictions are often better made in hindsight, and the real skill is to be alert, adaptable and ready to change along with the industry. It's exciting to imagine what might be next. At least it takes my mind off what's coming next for me.

VR, data, programmatic, 1 second videos, 'Flying Car Pool Karaoke'... What are your predictions for the next 12 months in Content Marketing? If you're accurate enough, maybe I don't have to read so many blogs....