The Evolution of Content: The Past 10 Years of Direct Marketing, Part 5

Marketing channels converge and diverge.

[Editor’s Note: This is the fifth article in an eight-part, weekly series.]
Marketers and content creators who are still standing after the Internet burst into their lives are probably glass-is-half-full types. They’re the ones who call the new channel an “opportunity” and maybe even “a challenge,” but say so with excitement in their voices. They’re the ones who were happy when blogging became mainstream, Craigslist emerged as the place to list classified ads, and smartphones took over every method of communication except audible conversations.

Here’s what I mean by “glass is half-full” advertisers and story creators: If you think of content pouring like water into the Internet, it’s easier to imagine how the landing liquid can be simultaneously disrupted and sustained in the channel. With all the sloshing around, some water is going to stay in the bucket—let’s call that traditional media—and some will splash out into different channels other than the Web. Chances are, a main stream will form, with runnels off to the side that move forward and a few still pools that eventually evaporate.

Where I’m going with this is simple: Disturbed water seeks its own level. When content pours into a new channel, it goes in several directions. Some content stays faithful to its original format—advertisers promote their brands, journalists write long-form articles and public relations professionals try to unite the two. Independent bloggers emerge, media companies begin blogging, companies start blogging. About 10 years ago, all three started blogging for each other or hosting content for each other. In the meantime, videos, emails, social networking sites, photo-hosting sites, aggregators, content farms and on and on were seemingly being treated equally by search engines.

Possibly the only relatively intact content channels for direct marketers were DRTV and direct-response radio. But even those felt the impact of the Internet.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Related Content
  • Craig Fitzgerald

    While videos, emails, social networking sites, photo-hosting sites, aggregators and content farms may be treated equally by search engines, they should not be by content marketers; but, according to the results of a July 2013 IMN cross-industry survey of marketers, they are.

    Only 22% of respondents stated that they have a separate content marketing strategy in place for each channel. This means that content is being developed that may be suited for one channel, such as a blog, and then is being utilized across multiple channels, including newsletters, on the corporate website, in online advertising campaigns, and on social channels. Identical content shouldn’t be blasted out across channels. Consideration isn’t being given for who is engaging with the content on each of these channels, and how they should be digesting it on that channel.

    Putting channel-specific content strategies in place is something marketers should work on as they fine-tune their content marketing programs.

    For more on the current state of content marketing and how programs can be fine tuned moving forward, download the full findings and takeaways from IMN’s second annual content marketing survey here: