Publishers have always known the foundational role content plays in engaging an audience. However, with content now playing a starring role for all digital strategies, as well as demand generation campaigns, clients and agencies are beginning to ask a lot more questions about content.

Marketing executives are looking to build their own content libraries and are turning to their publishing partners for guidance and support creating the right content, and distributing it successfully to support both their branding and revenue initiatives.

To better understand how emerging technologies and media options influence audience behavior, our DemandGen Report publication recently conducted a survey of more than 100 executives and found some interesting trends.

Here is a look at some of the study highlights:

1) Access Points: The majority of our DemandGen Report readers are business executives in sales and marketing roles, so our sample skews more towards b-to-b. Traditionally, business publishers have focused on reaching their audience in their place of work, but one of the realities of the mobile explosion is that “work” is no longer confined to a desk or the four walls of an office.

When asked what device they use to access business-related content, 84 percent indicated they use a laptop most frequently, 70 percent said they use a mobile phone, and 49 percent use a tablet. Conversely, only 36 percent cited a desktop computer as their regular device for consuming content.

In looking at how their content consumption habits have changed over the past year, 32 percent indicated they prefer mobile-optimized content for access on a tablet or mobile device.

2) Setting Preferences: Given DemandGen Report’s focus on engagement trends, our survey focused primarily on content used for lead generation, lead nurturing and sales enablement.

When we asked executives which content formats they had used to research a business topic or solution, the white paper was the dominant response (88 percent), followed by webinars (73 percent), case studies (67 percent) and blog posts (63 percent).

While those content formats have been established as “tried and true” for publishers and brands alike, the survey also show rapid adoption of newer formats that wouldn’t have made the list two years ago. For example, 51 percent of respondents cited E-books as a top resource, 44 percent referenced videos, 38 percent selected infographics and 28 percent named interactive presentations.

3) Content As Currency: The other major trend underscored by the survey was the growing influence content now has on how customers perceive the publishers and brands that supply it.

When asked how their content consumption habits have changed over the last year, 57 percent of respondents said they place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source creating content.

There is also more openness to receiving content directly from brands, as 25 percent said they are willing to consider vendor-created content as trustworthy, and 35 percent saying they start their search for content addressing business topics directly on vendor websites.

The growing influence of peers also came through loud and clear in the study. When asked which content they give more credence to in the research process, 52 percent cited peer reviews/user generated feedback, followed by 33 percent who selected content authored by a third-party publication or analyst.

4) Share And Share Alike: Despite their busy schedules, business executives take time to share content they find valuable. While email is a primary sharing mechanism (88 percent), the survey found that more than half (53 percent) of executives share content using LinkedIn and 39 percent share via Twitter.

In addition, 25 percent indicated they are getting more content through social networks or recommendations, and 23 percent said they now start their search for content on social media.

In addition to these four key trends, the survey looked at other shifts in behaviors, such as willingness to share contact and business information in exchange for access to content, as well as asking how long an executive is willing to commit to reviewing different content formats.

Andrew Gaffney is the President of G3 Communications, Inc., a Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. firm specializing in digital media and custom contnent. G3 Communications publishes DemandGen Report, Retail TouchPoints and Channel Marketer Report. In addition to its digital publications, G3’s Content4Demand marketing services division creates custom content optimized for lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns for more than 100 different clients ranging from Fortune 100 firms to venture-backed startups.

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