The explosion in content marketing continues, which is great for us here at The Economist because quality content is at the heart of what we do, with a mileage that reaches way beyond traditional syndication packages—and we’re not alone.
Profit margins are high, after all, when the product is already polished and packaged, and content can be used for a wide range of purposes, too. These might include populating a newly-launched platform which hasn’t yet enough material. Many companies have social media beasts with voracious appetites that need feeding, and sometimes content—particularly, the kind of "water cooler conversation" content some specialize in—can be used at events to start a debate, open dialogue or support an argument.
In other words, content marketing is constantly evolving in format and execution, opening up new opportunities for publishers who can think outside the box.
Mixmag, a dance music and club culture magazine, sealed a groundbreaking, seven-figure deal with alcoholic beverage company Diageo that demonstrates how content marketing is being redefined. What makes this deal interesting is the content that will be traded isn’t editorial, but access to the wealth of talent (primarily the DJs), with which the brand has a longstanding relationship. Mixmag Media will work with Diageo to help produce videos and host a series of live events in London, New York and Los Angeles. The unique selling points when it comes to their brand DNA were quoted as an "inclusivity" and "global reach." So, even the notion of what "content" is has changed. It may not just be the content of your publication that is valuable, but your smartphone contacts as well.
At The Economist, we have multiple arms to pull our content from: The Economist Films, Intelligent Life, The Economist Espresso and more. Our B2B Content Department focuses on creating bespoke, relevant and topical content solutions for organizations from this content portfolio—depending on their needs—and these partnerships are increasingly creative, and sometimes unconventional.
For example, audio recordings of features from The Economist are utilized on a new Japanese app, helping users learn English as a foreign language. This demonstrates that to maximize on content you must also identify its unique selling points, and then which partnerships are mutually beneficial without compromising on the company DNA. In this instance, high-quality grammar—and the formation of arguments—were both key, helped by actors who come in for four hours each Thursday to produce the work. We are also in discussions with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to syndicate audio content to their streams for those affected by sight loss.
Importantly, the relationship between news and analysis is also growing. Here, we have established a relationship with IBM, enabling Watson Analytics to use The Economist's digital archive back to 1997. This will help educate and train Watson to develop the research capabilities to produce truly balanced pro-con arguments on any issue or topic that a business, government or academic leader may need counsel around—or for that matter the average consumer, parent or student.
When everyone is panicking about robots stealing our jobs, it’s important to remember that, without content, these are empty vessels. How could your content and data be used to help make Augmented Intelligence even smarter?
Other emerging platforms for content are transport and the home. Car companies are opening their dialogue with content providers for bespoke in-vehicle audio and visual entertainment. Planes are all about converting from the tiny, back-of-seat screens to bringing you branded entertainment to your own devices, and in the future your content could find its way into the home, on your fridge front, kettle or espresso machine. And if you fancy some AI assistance in the home, let’s hope its content has been sourced cleverly or it's going to be a very tedious conversation over the dishes. The future promises a wealth of platforms—it’s time to make your content work hard, so you don’t have to.
5 tips for capitalizing on your content:
Use your highest quality content.
Work with partners who share your vision and ethos.
Keep the end user and their interests in mind.
Never compromise your brand to fit a brief.
Consider and communicate how you will technically deliver your content onto platforms or systems.