There’s been a lot of announcements recently about television advertising changing in various ways. I’m not necessarily talking about the kind of targeted, addressable ads that technology will enable, more the actual ad load and the way ad breaks on TV – and on streaming services – are being rethought.
The latest story on how Hulu is trying to reduce its dependence on traditional ad breaks and embrace more sponsorships is just the most recent example. It also got me thinking about how much of the media is formatted the way it is because it has to accommodate the desires and expectations of advertisers. Removing that or restructuring that will, then, necessitate a rethinking of how media is formatted, which means big changes for the creators and producers behind all of it.
It also means big changes will have to be made by those who create and produce material for content marketing programs.
We Live In An Ad World
The harsh reality is that all content, at least in the current media environment, needs to live in the spaces provided by advertisements. There are countless examples shared online where a news story – ostensibly the point of the page being published – that’s been crowded out and covered up by a plethora of ads. Some come down from the top, some expand from the side, some remain persistent in the corner of the page and autoplay video and audio, distracting you from the reading you came there to do.
Content marketing doesn’t suffer, at least in most cases, from the need to be ad-supported but it’s still required to be revenue generating in some manner.
Despite that, the material that’s published and posted often winds up being surrounded by ads when it’s sent out into the world. So content marketers still need to take into account what kind of ad environment what they create will go out and live in and how those ads impact how it’s received and interpreted by the audience.
Media Innovates, Marketing Follows
All due respect to those marketers who have done truly original things, but in most cases content marketing form factors have followed the innovations developed and implemented by media companies. Whether it’s listicles, video how-tos, explainer essays or something else, the formats tested and used by media companies will trickle over to what’s used by marketers in their content programs.
That’s why it’s so essential marketing professionals not only keep up to date on what’s happening in the media world in terms of what they’re playing around with and why. You can’t just say you’re hip to the latest influencer marketing or the latest audience targeting. You have to know what kind of formats are being used and what is or isn’t working and why.
New Ways to Make Money
As I mentioned, most content marketing programs aren’t specifically ad dependent like media companies are, but that doesn’t mean they’re not expected to bring in some money. In fact, revenue generation may be the specific goal of the content program.
There have been endless discussions about how media companies are or aren’t making money, discussions that have shifted dramatically over time. It’s been ad revenue, it’s been paywalls, it’s been sponsored content, it’s been conferences and events, it’s been a half dozen other things.
Not only are there direct implications for how content marketing programs are managed – and how revenue generation should be evolving – but there are indirect implications in how the press could and will react to what’s published. If no one is linking out anymore, it’s less likely they’ll link to your stuff. If everyone is looking for sponsored content, figure out how to provide it.
As the media world evolves it will be increasingly important for content marketing professionals to exercise their creativity and stay informed on what’s happening and what the conversations are. Unfortunately, in my experience, that’s something not many people stay up on. They’re too busy discussing the latest tweaks to social media, letting more substantive media pass them by because it’s not flashy enough.