Dirty tricks won’t win the content marketing race

This piece has been authored by Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer at Contently.

I’ve been using war metaphors a lot lately.

I don’t like war. Not at all. But for the past several months, it’s the analogy that has most frequently come to mind when discussing the brand publishing industry — the industry Contently is in the middle of, and which we cover in our magazine, Contently Quarterly.


Specifically, I’ve been talking a lot about the emerging content “arms race” among brands that are funneling resources into telling bigger and better stories. In contrast to the SEO content farm industry we saw thrive — then wither — a few years ago, we’re now witnessing a battle among commercial brands to publish editorial stories in order to build relationships with audiences — as media companies have been doing for decades. It’s been fascinating to see this revolution happen so quickly.

Companies are going to spend a lot of money with native advertising this year, and that means there will be temptation for both brands and traditional media to cheat. When we realized in 2011 that most of our clients were going to be brands, we created a code of ethics in order to hold us and our partners to a higher standard — one that focuses on keeping the reader’s trust at all costs. We decided that if brand publishing was going to happen, someone needed to make sure it was done the right way. We want to help lead that discussion.

Great content can help businesses grow and thrive, but content shouldn’t just be about business. We believe in high-quality original brand publishing that focuses on helping consumers, and we want to see the good guys win. In this issue of Contently Quarterly, you’ll find the four main battlefronts that we believe brands need to conquer in the coming year:

The Brand Publishing Arms Race to recruit better talent and tell better stories.

Truth in Advertising and the question of whether brands are going to proudly own their content, or revert to devious tricks.

Audience and the rise (and risks) of platforms that are trying to get more eyeballs in front of branded content.

The Numbers Game in which brands will need to completely rethink publishing metrics and how to tie them to business results.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Contently Quarterly, and use the ideas herein to tell stories that make a difference for your brand and customers.

Meanwhile, we’ll be putting on our war paint.

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