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Original articles from Contently.
What the Internet’s Best ‘About Us’ Pages Can Teach Brands
I’ve been writing website copy since I started out at FCB in 1994. One of my earliest assignments was for Nabisco, which became one of the first brands to launch a corporate web site. For the creative concept, we decided to turn the digital experience into a virtual town you could explore.

Wells Fargo’s CMO on Lifetime Customers, Mountains of Data, and Coming Back From a Scandal
Near the top of the homepage on Wells Fargo’s website, there’s a box that reads: “Working hard to earn your trust.” That trust has been put to the test over the last year, after news broke that thousands of employees had opened millions of unauthorized account, forcing customers to pay illegitimate fees.

How the World’s Top CEOs Use Social Media
Thought leadership gets a lot of flak in marketing circles. Some of it is fair. “Thought leadership” is jargon for something companies have done forever: trying to position their executives as influential leaders. But just because it’s a new way to refer to an old technique doesn’t mean it’s not effective. New technology has just changed how it’s done.

The 3 Most Effective Ways to Grow Your Email List
As a content strategist, I ask people about their content marketing goals every day. Sometimes I almost feel like a fast food worker. “Would you like some lead gen with that?” These goals vary greatly since content can impact everything from sales to customer experience, but there’s one goal that’s pretty universal: growing your email list. The email newsletter remains the most impactful channel for reaching your audience...

Why Visibility Is Key for Content Marketing Success
It’s 12 p.m., do you know what your content team is doing? If you’re a senior manager, it can be difficult—okay, impossible—to know what your team is up to on a day-to-day basis. Is Jim actually “just finishing up” that new product announcement? Did Mary really submit the latest draft of her blog post to Fred yesterday?

3 Hard Content Marketing Truths
This week, I’m on a pilgrimage in the desert. No, not the one my Jewish nana really wants me to take; it’s the one my CMO (very easily) talked me into—the SiriusDecisions Summit in Las Vegas, which secretly has the reputation as one of the most insightful marketing events on Earth. Each day, I’ll share what I learn on the ground from foundational courses, dozens of case studies, and keynote presentations introduced by 2013 EDM jams.

Why Content Strategists Take Social Shares Seriously (And You Should Too)
I rarely get nervous presenting content plans to Contently clients, but there’s one comment I hear every so often that makes me uneasy: “We don’t care if people share our content. We only care about generating leads and conversions.” This declaration usually comes from B2B marketers who dismiss social shares...

‘You Can’t Hit What Your Eyes Don’t See’: How Time Inc. Became a Media Company Built on Data
Time Inc., the publisher of the most iconic magazine covers of the 20th Century, is in the business of sending shockwaves throughout the media. From Ellen Degeneres coming out to detailed images of the 9/11 attack to the 2017 anointment of President Trump as “Person of the Year,” Time has slapped some of history’s most controversial issues on its cover. As a media company, Time Inc. remains committed to backing those covers with hard-hitting stories. In the last decade, it has also developed a substantial...

Can Tesla Ride Earned Media Forever?
In the summer of 2014, an unassuming patch of Nevada desert became home to a building that could reshape the way we think about transportation. That swath of dry land, now known as the Gigafactory, is the lithium ion battery factory where Elon Musk and his team at Tesla are building the material that will power...

How Finance Brands Like Goldman Sachs Use Content to Build Trust and Win Customers
It’s no secret that trust in the financial sector took a hit after the 2008 financial crisis. This is particularly true among millennials, who, in 2016, overtook baby boomers as the largest generation. More than any previous generation, millennials have shown reluctance to engage with the finance industry...

The 6 Most Important Social Media Trends of 2017
Social media—once a competitive, dynamic space—has gotten predictable. Facebook added a hundred million users in a quarter? What else is new? Facebook is in trouble for failing to stop fake news, extremist messages, and child pornography? Par for the course. Facebook shamelessly copied another Snapchat...

Why Performance Data Isn’t Enough
Readers of a certain age may remember a ’90s commercial for a product called Hair Club for Men, featuring a gentleman who proclaimed “I’m not only the president, I’m also a client.” For lack of a better metaphor, that’s basically how I’d sum up my role at Contently. Not only am I tasked with convincing marketers that our software will solve their content marketing problems, I also use our product to solve our own problems.

How Lenny Letter Turned an Unorthodox Media Model Into a Safe Place for Women
The origin story for Lenny Letter, the feminist newsletter launched by Girls co-creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, starts back in 2014. Dunham was on a book tour to promote her essay collection Not That Kind of Girl, and at each event, she spoke with communities of women interested in their rights, bodies...

3 Rules for Content Marketing in the Fake News Era
I spend most of my life doing five things: sleeping, scheming, reading, writing, and answering questions about content marketing. Lately—as I’ve traveled from Toronto to London to Austin to speak at conferences and lead strategy workshops—it’s mostly been the latter. Here’s one question that keeps coming up: How does Facebook’s fake news problem impact content marketing?

Virtual vs. Physical: The Two Brand Newsroom Models Taking Over Content Marketing
It’s 9 a.m. on a July morning in Reebok’s newsroom, and “binge think,” the corporation’s brainstorming session, is heating up. When I walk in, Dan Mazei, the senior director of Reebok’s Global Newsroom, is standing on a chair, scribbling story ideas on a whiteboard. A dozen staffers surround him, gathered on couches and colorful footrests. Everyone is young and fit, and I feel like I’ve walked on the set of an office comedy.

Storytelling Is Not a Strategy
At the start of 2017, I made the shift from ad tech to martech. In the last decade, I had helped build and steward the brands of two successful ad tech firms recognized for their innovation and amazing cultures, but it was increasingly difficult to ignore the headwinds facing the old media model. The consumers had spoken, and they didn’t want interruptive advertising experiences anymore.

The Biggest Roadblock to Data-Driven Marketing
I may work in marketing, but as someone who appreciates privacy, I’m a marketer’s worst nightmare. When it comes to data collection, I want my information hidden from companies as much as possible. Fortunately (for me, at least), various search settings...

Why You Need a Cross-Functional Content Marketing Calendar
I lead a double life, but there’s a secret weapon that lets me get away with it. At Contently, I’m both our director of content strategy—which means I oversee strategy work we do for hundreds of clients—and also the editor-in-chief of our internal publications, The Content Strategist, The Freelancer, and Contently Quarterly.

Why Martech Companies Should Be Terrified of Facebook, Google, and Amazon
In ad tech, there’s Facebook and Google, and then there’s everyone else. In the first quarter of 2016, revenue rose 21 percent year over year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau—but 90 percent of that growth went to Facebook and Google. It’s no wonder that industry experts like Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, refer to the pair as a duopoly.

Weekend Update: Should You Publish Every Day?
In 2006, Time magazine realized its readers were too busy during the week to flip through each issue. When they finally could devote enough time to read the articles, the news was already old. So Richard Stengel, the magazine’s former editor-in-chief, made a drastic move. The publication would hit newsstands on Friday instead of Monday morning. “I think that really saved the magazine,” said Tracy Schmidt, director of social media at Crain Communications and an independent social media consultant...

People Trust Facebook Less Than Congress
Facebook is a social network. Despite its booming ad business, it is still, at its core, a place for “friends” to speak with other “friends.” During the past election, many “friends” turned it into a political forum for not-so-friendly debates. Even worse, Facebook fanned the flames by allowing the spread of fake news. Those controversies came with consequences.

Why Pitches Are the Key to Great Content Marketing
Go find a six-year-old—preferably a nephew or niece, not some random kid at Whole Foods—and ask them to make up a story. Watch as their eyes light up, how their words jumble together with excitement and wonder. Observe how their arms wave and their fingers spread, as if they’re conjuring a tornado of imagination.

Why Do Insurance Companies Advertise So Much?
How many insurance ad campaigns can you name off the top of your head? Probably a lot. There’s Mayhem from Allstate, Flo from Progressive, Good Hands, Good Neighbors, Jake and his khakis, Peyton and his parm, Discount Double Checks, Cliff Paul, Generals, Farmers, the Geico Gecko, the Geico Cavemen...

Why Comedy Central Is Replacing Commercials With Branded Content
Your eyes are glued to the screen as you watch your favorite TV show. The writers are about to reveal a huge secret about your favorite character. Then, just as you’re about to find out the details, commercials come on. You immediately mute the screen and start scrolling through Instagram. Even photos of your friend’s latte...

3 Ways Google Can Have More Credible Search Rankings
“Did the Holocaust happen?” is not a question up for debate. You don’t have to search very hard to find irrefutable evidence. Ask the thousands of Holocaust survivors still alive today for confirmation. Ask Google, however, and the answer is not so clear. We search Google for everything from cheap concert tickets to long-lost...

Why We Stopped Using the Word ‘Authentic’
Every night, when I come home from work, I walk by a little billboard in the Hoboken PATH station that makes me gnash my teeth. It’s an ad for a yoga studio. I’ve seen two variations, one for men and one for women. The billboard meant for women contains 15 words of copy: “I am a sister. I am a runner. I am authentic. I do hot yoga.” The sign reads like a parody of the worst kind...

The Evolution of Data Journalism
In the 19th century, the streets of New York City proved to be the perfect incubator for cholera. The disease made its debut during the summer of 1832, when 3,000 New Yorkers died within a few weeks. By 1849, more than 5,000 deaths could be traced back to cholera, becoming a full-blown epidemic.

Facebook May Have Just Ushered in a New Era for Mobile Video
Sheryl Sandberg, COO; Chris Cox, CPO; and Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder and CEO, have all flatly said that Facebook is a tech company. But over the last few years, that position has become less tenable. Now, it seems that Facebook has finally accepted the premise that it is, at the very least, inextricably linked with the media industry.

Print Is Still the Most Trusted Type of Ad
Some people claim print is dying. As a journalist, I don’t really like these people, even if they may be right. So it was comforting to find out that consumers still value print, at least when it comes to one crucial metric. According to an October 2016 survey by MarketingSherpa, 82 percent of U.S. internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision, more than any other medium. The highest ranking online format, search ads, clocks in at 61 percent, while only 25 percent of Americans trust pop-ups. Given the digital media boom of the past decade, the results are surprising. TV and print continue to lose ad share at the expense of digital, yet both traditional platforms maintain higher levels of trust compared to their online counterparts.

How I Fell in Love With Content Marketing Software
I’m about to confess something that’ll probably come back to bite me in the butt during my next job interview: I’m a disorganized person. I’ve heard this since kindergarten. “You’re going to have to learn to organize your stuff better if you’re going to make it in the first grade,” my teacher, Miss Jessica, told me. Her eyes lingered on my half-open backpack, stuffed with color-by-number worksheets...

The Talent War, and Other Big Content Marketing Trends for 2017
Six years ago, I started working in content marketing. At 23, I helped start an online newspaper out of a Park Slope, Brooklyn coffee shop, and by some stroke of luck, we connected with an upstart digital agency that offered us office space and a small retainer.

23 Content Marketing Predictions for 2017
Last month, before people went away on vacation and struggled to explain their jobs to their extended families, the editorial team asked everyone at Contently to think about the future of content marketing. Will video rule 2017? Will fake news change the way publishers pursue marketing? Will artificial intelligence go too far?

5 Factors That Could Impact Your Content Strategy in 2017
Nobody wishes you luck unless you’re an underdog. In Hollywood, our favorite protagonists like Rocky, Luke Skywalker, and Elle Woods all hear the words of encouragement from friends and mentors before they take on a crucial challenge. But wishing someone luck also comes with the understanding that these protagonists may fail.

9 Standout Stories Our Clients Created in 2016
Two entrepreneurs meet at a cafe to discuss music and books in six languages. A young mother examines the sonogram of her son, relieved she will give birth to a healthy child. Doctors examine patient data to understand how prescription patterns play a role in the heroin epidemic. While these subjects sound like Netflix documentary recommendations, they are, in fact, the focus of some of our top stories from Contently clients in 2016. This year, we worked with brands that reached new levels of sophistication by hiring journalists, building video newsrooms, and telling ambitious stories on a global scale. Here’s some of their best work.

4 Hard Truths I Learned Covering Marketing This Year
When you spend most of your life thinking about marketing, you start to see the world differently. Suddenly you think of everything in terms of positioning, strategy, persuasion, and accountability. You look at ads and say, “What the hell were they thinking?” to your friend who couldn’t care less. You see a post from a brand you’ve never even heard of and think, “Wow, that’s genius.”

State of Content Marketing 2017: The 3 Traits That Will Make Brands Truly Successful
In 1956, a dust of mysterious plant spores blew into the town of Santa Mira, California. That’s when things started getting weird. Big green pods started growing around town. Even stranger, local psychiatrists suddenly had an influx of visits from people...

When Facts Fall Short: Why Brands Need a Point of View
Almost four years ago, The Atlantic published a native ad, sponsored by the Church of Scientology, titled “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year.” Twelve hours later, the post was removed from the site. Since 2013, the incident has served as an interesting learning experience for content marketers.

Facebook’s Algorithm Has Unprecedented Power. Here’s How We Need to Respond
As I write this, a single algorithm controls the flow of 40 percent of all web traffic to publisher sites. It’s the main source of news delivery to 62 percent of all American adults. And chances are that it played a big role in whether you read this article at all. I’m talking, of course, about the Facebook algorithm—the most...

Why Publishers Are a Huge Threat to Ad Agencies
Back in the days of Mad Men, agencies were bulletproof institutions. Nobody had to question how things worked. Account managers dealt with clients, creatives created, and everybody smoked. But once the digital revolution hit a few decades ago, the traditional agency model splintered into an array of concentrated niches. In this age of specialization, you can find agencies that focus solely on placements...

Here’s Why Infographics Outperform Blog Posts
For months, my health-nut brother has encouraged me to develop a meal plan. (“Dumplings are not a food group, Erin.”) To humor him, I decided to map out what I would eat. Suddenly, my menu was no longer determined by drunken noodle cravings. I started to classify food by value. I organized components into categories—protein, fats, grains, and vitamins—that would provide enough nutrition...

Is Facebook in Danger of Becoming the Next Taboola?
For months leading up to the election, a slow trickle of angst surrounded Facebook’s fake news problem. After the stunning election of Donald Trump last week, that trickle turned into a deluge of anger. “Facebook, in Cross Hairs After Election, Is Said to Question Its Influence,” wrote The New York Times. “Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook,” preached Max Read...

How Brands Can Build Online Communities That Aren’t Lame
“We just really need to build a community around ____.” This is the fill-in-the-blank cliché that marketers and entrepreneurs bandy around at every tech and marketing conference. That includes Web Summit, which brought 70,000 tech folks around the globe to Lisbon to pitch, drink, and wonder just what the hell happened in America on Tuesday night.

The Science Behind the Power of Storytelling
Last August, Interpol arrested a 40-year-old Nigerian con artist, known only as “Mike,” who was the alleged mastermind of an email scam cartel that swindled over $60 million from victims around the world. Mike operated various email schemes including the infamous “Nigerian Prince” ruse, which elaborately establishes a heartbreaking and potentially profitable tale...

Why WordPress Isn’t Scared of Facebook, Snapchat, or the Future of Publishing
I reached out to five tech companies for this story: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Medium, and WordPress. All five have vested interests in the publishing world. Medium and WordPress are the obvious ones: They’re both well-known content management systems.

Alexis Ohanian Reveals How Brands and Publishers Can Thrive on Reddit
Reddit can be a dangerous place for brands. Everyone from Nissan to Google to REI has seen attempts to engage users on the platform go horribly wrong. But as Fortune explained in a big profile of Reddit earlier this year, that danger has dissipated as the platform has focused its latest ad efforts on native content.

How Content Marketing Helped Make Google the Most Attractive Employer in the World
For three years in a row, Google has been the most attractive employer in the world for business and computer science graduates, according to research from advisory firm Universum. In the U.S., Google is second only to NASA for engineering graduates, and in 2015, it snuck into the top three for humanities...

Platform Push: How Big Changes From Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest Will Affect Marketers
One of the biggest trends in content marketing over the past couple years has been a move away from the open web to the closed walls of platforms. That’s a lot of jargon packed into one sentence, so let me break down what that means. Previously, publishers would post content on a website and then push out a link to distribution platforms...

5 Journalistic Standards That Don’t Always Apply to Content Marketing
At the end of a long interview for a story about people looking to change careers, my source said the dreaded words: “Please don’t use my real name.” He didn’t want people to know he was getting out of the field, so I panicked at first. There’s no way I could use an anonymous source. Then I remembered I wasn’t writing for a news outlet. This was branded content. I breathed a sigh of relief.

How to Manage a Global Newsroom
Any successful content program requires transparency and visibility. But one that connects teams around the world needs to max out those traits. Teams across the globe need an easy way to see which content is available and which initiatives are under development in different markets.

Can AI Really Help You Write Better Emails?
Having pitches ignored by busy editors is nothing new to freelancers. Editors receive so many emails every day, and the increasing demands on everyone’s time at publications fighting to stay alive means getting someone’s attention is a real challenge. So on August 23, when the makers of Boomerang (a Gmail tool that lets you schedule messages to be sent later) launched a new tool called Respondable (which is supposed to help you improve email response rates), I started using it immediately.

Millennials Surprisingly Prefer News Articles Over Videos
If you’ve just fired every writer at your company and replaced them with vloggers and cinematographers, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce you’re not going to reach as many millennials as you think. According to a study by the Pew Research Center...

Thanks to Twitter, Writers Are More Influential Than Publishers
A few years back, my path to pop culture enlightenment was blissfully simple. I would open up Grantland and read whichever stories piqued my interest. The same way my daily routine relied on a cereal of choice (Honey Bunches of Oats) and a toothpaste of choice (Crest Pro-Health), I had developed a relationship with a publisher of choice.

The One Email Tactic That Publishers Shouldn’t Ignore
The first email newsletter I subscribed to was Warren Ellis’s Orbital Operations. Ellis, a writer and comic book author, has been sending these emails since the ’90s, and they haven’t evolved all that much since. His newsletter is mostly text, with a couple links to books he recommends or a talk he gave at a conference, and perhaps a preview of a comic he’s working on.

What Journalists Can Learn From Marketers
After returning from Content Marketing World, Contently Editor-in-Chief Joe Lazauskas wrote a piece addressing the tension between the two ideological camps in branded content: journalists vs. marketers. Immigrants to content marketing from the journalism world push for more editorial content, emphasizing quality and creative, while those with backgrounds in marketing...

How Content Marketing Teams Are Evolving in 2016
Late last year, Cisco laid off over 100 marketing staffers. “Now we’re restructuring and hiring two hundred content marketing people globally,” said Katrina Neal, the head of content marketing for Cisco’s service provider segment. The move signifies not only a change in marketing tactics, but also an effort to refocus the company around storytelling. Cisco isn’t the only one...

Will Podcasters Abandon Apple?
When Apple released iOS 6 in 2012, the tech world flipped out over Apple Maps, the company’s late-to-the-game GPS directions app. Much of the press about the release criticized the software, especially in comparison to Google Maps. But the coverage overshadowed the introduction of something...

Why the Publishing World Needs Humane Design
How many times do you check your phone a day? Fifty? A hundred? A thousand? You’re still probably underestimating. If we’re anything alike, you check your phone even when you know there’s nothing new to see. You unlock it just to swipe through pages of apps or scroll through texts without tapping into any conversations.

What You Gain (and Lose) With Ungated Content
For a brief time in college, I spent my days working at Gap. As far as summer jobs go, it was pretty agreeable. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than getting paid to fold giant stacks of faux-vintage t-shirts. I also found out that you can learn a lot about marketing while working on the front lines for a big retailer. We were instructed to ask shoppers for email addresses or zip codes...

4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Create a Content Plan
One of the most important and innovative mechanical advances is the flywheel, a device used to store and conserve energy, and a critical component of everything from the steam locomotives of the early 1800s to NASA spacecrafts today. Remarkably powerful and efficient, the flywheel needs an initial torque to push it forward.

Facebook Live Almost Died. Now It Could Rule the Media World
On Monday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head to head to make their case for why they should be America’s next leader. The stage also doubled as Facebook Live’s coronation. The social giant partnered with ABC to live stream the debates via Facebook Live, putting the much-hyped feature on the national...

5 Reasons GE’s Content Goes Viral on Reddit (and Everywhere Else)
Flying 2,500 feet over Lake Michigan in a two-seater airplane, GE Reports Editor-in-Chief Tomas Kellner had some tough choices to make. Should he keep his Periscope live stream going for his captivated audience, or use his phone to switch over to GE’s Snapchat? Would his signal hold? Should he switch over to his DSLR camera to snap photos for the GE Reports blog?

How Gimlet Hacked Slack to Reinvent Its Comments Section
The internet may seem noble and libertarian on the outside, but the deeper you go, the uglier and more repressive it gets. Everyone can have a voice online, but that democratization has also prompted rampant cyberbullying, trolling, and other kinds of abuse. According to a 2014 Pew study, 40 percent of internet users have been...

The Truth About the ROI of Online Video Ads, in 5 Charts
Your video ad metrics are likely failing you—at least when it comes to helping you understand ROI. A new study from the Nielsen Media Lab and HIRO Media suggests that there’s hardly any correlation between engagement-based metrics (like click-through rates and views) and ROI (intent to purchase).

3 Gaming Trends About to Take Over the Media World
Some people tend to think of gaming as a niche hobby. But I always felt otherwise. Video games have consistently out-earned Hollywood. Most people probably have at least one gaming app on their phone. And “gamification” is a term that’s been used so much in reference to UX design that it’s become blasé.

Why Snapchat Is Already Giving Up on Not Being ‘Creepy’
When Snapchat released 3V advertising, its core ad product, last June, founder and CEO Evan Spiegel was pretty clear about the philosophy behind it. “In the early days of internet advertising, marketers relied on things like targeting to help differentiate ad products that weren’t very engaging,” he said in a video promoting the release.

7 Social Media Stats All Marketers Should Know
Keeping track of all the most effective social media techniques can be dizzying. There’s no golden rule or master trick that works across all platforms. Even if there were, it would probably be outdated in a month. Why? Because effectively using social media requires Rubik’s Cube-like logic. There are so many different platforms to keep track of, and a shift on one network could impact how you approach others.

The Art of Content: How Artsy Brought a $64 Billion Industry Into the Digital Age
Last October, Artsy teamed up with auction house Sotheby’s for a digital art sale. To bid on a Richard Prince piece replicating an Instagram selfie, estimated to be worth between $100,000 and $150,000, you didn’t have to turn up in a blazer or heels, champagne flute in hand, discretely raising an auction paddle. All you had to do was open the Artsy app from your couch, as if searching Amazon for a new tennis racket. Artsy has become the world’s largest online database of contemporary art...

Facebook Can’t Escape Bias, No Matter What It Says
I took my first journalism class freshman year of high school, back in 2004. Before students could write for the school paper, which came out in print once a month and didn’t exist online, they had to learn about the principles of reporting, then pass a test on the information. I passed on the first try, but more than a decade later, I’ve forgotten most of what we had to study.

The 11 Weirdest Branded Video Games
A couple weeks ago, Warby Parker, the trendy glasses startup, announced its first video game: Worbs. Made in collaboration with gaming magazine Kill Screen, Worbs is a simple in-browser matching game good for helping you kill five minutes.

The Netflix Problem: TV’s Difficult Balance of Original vs. Syndication
In 1997, Netflix began building itself as a content distributor. It started with DVDs but really made a name for itself in 2007 by pioneering and popularizing video streaming. By 2013, the company was clearly established as the biggest player in the cord-cutting movement, but at that point, legitimate competitors...

Facebook Traffic Is Plummeting, and 5 Other Takeaways From SimilarWeb’s Publisher Rankings
What’s the biggest digital news outlet you can think of? The New York Times? BuzzFeed? Fox? Nope. It’s MSN. According to SimilarWeb’s rankings of July’s most popular U.S. publishers, MSN came out on top, with nearly 2 trillion combined pageviews. What’s striking is that only 4.5 million of those pageviews came from Facebook. Well, until you remember that MSN.com is the default homepage for Internet Explorer. Whenever someone opens a new window or tab on Internet Explorer, which still has surprisingly...

5 Keys to Building a Culture of Content
Most companies are thinking about content all wrong—or at the very least, in a very limited way. Content is primarily thought of as a marketing tool—a way to boost brand perception, reach potential customers, and drive leads. But in truth, content can wield a powerful influence on divisions across the enterprise...

No Filter: DJ Khaled and the FTC’s Snapchat Problem
No one has been more influential to Snapchat culture than DJ Khaled. An Adweek cover story on the famous rapper deemed him the “King of Snapchat” in February. One month later, Emmanuel Seuge, senior vice president for content at Coca-Cola, called him the same in a cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek.

5 Lessons Brands Can Learn From Gawker
On Monday, Gawker published its last story. It was the media world’s favorite blog, and its shutdown inspired hundreds of thinkpieces. I wrote my own brief memoriam here. But since I cover content marketing for a living, I couldn’t help but contemplate what lessons brands can learn from the site that we loved to hate...

Truth in Advertising Takes on the Kardashians
America’s first family is officially on notice. Yesterday, Truth in Advertising (TINA)—a consumer advocacy nonprofit—announced in a blog post that it had sent a letter to the Kardashian clan that went something like this: Either stop your deceptive marketing practices or we’ll file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

How Coca-Cola Turned Its Digital Publication Into a Global Phenomenon
Coca-Cola is often hailed for its ability to tell stories that celebrate diversity and inclusion. It’s hard not to be touched by the ad that shows a Coke machine uniting people who live near the hostile Pakistan–India border. And most people probably remember the “America the Beautiful” Super Bowl commercial from 2014...

5 Ridiculously Weird Brand Name Origin Stories
From a place of inner humility, the wise and high rapper Wiz Khalifa once proclaimed, “Brand names aren’t important to me at all.” Such asceticism is commendable and even coveted by some in today’s brand-inundated world. But pretending we don’t care what beer we drink or where we read the news is dishonest and infeasible. Even Wiz has his own brand of rolling papers.

Why Top Publishers and Brands Are Creating Dozens of New Facebook Pages
As Facebook has evolved, so have the publishers that rely on it for traffic. Instead of building one company page and amassing millions of likes, views, and shares, major publishers have increasingly sliced their audience into separate Facebook pages to boost engagement. In addition to dividing its readership into verticals on the BuzzFeed website (BuzzFeed Video, BuzzFeed Food)...

Why Ad Blockers Make Facebook Even More Powerful
One of the most common criticisms leveled at ad-blocking companies is that they are little more than extortionists. Eyeo GmbH—the company that owns Adblock Plus, the most-used ad blocker—takes money to whitelist websites from its ad blockers, despite purporting to fight for an ad-free web. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and other internet companies have all paid the fee.

Elizabeth Spiers Reveals Why You’re Thinking About VR and Branded Content All Wrong
For tech luminary Elon Musk, there’s little doubt that we are living a simulated reality. In fact, at this year’s Code Conference, he said there’s about a “one in a billion” chance of us not living in a simulation. He’s not alone in thinking so. Elizabeth Spiers, a veteran of the publishing world and the founding editor of Gawker...

The Future of the Internet Isn’t the Web
Tech products are known for lionizing, buzzword-ridden launches, and the iPhone’s introduction in 2007 was no exception. “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” said Steve Jobs. “This is a revolution of the first order.” We’d heard this before. But this time, Jobs was right, and he nailed the reason why in four words: “Internet in your pocket.”

5 Instagram Tricks The Knot Used to Get 1 Million Followers Without a Single Ad
They say a snowy wedding day can bring prosperity to the bride and groom. It certainly did for The Knot, a wedding-planning resource site. In January, a photograph of a couple who got married during the Northeast’s “Snowzilla” blizzard became the brand’s most popular Instagram post ever, receiving 44,000 likes and 1,600 comments. Six months later, The Knot has surpassed 1 million Instagram followers.

How Microsoft Could Turn LinkedIn Into a Legitimate Facebook Rival
Every social network has a personality. Twitter is for the clever individual trying to turn current events into a punchline. Facebook is for the opinionated person who overshares details about private life. Instagram is for those who want to filter their lives through indulgence. But LinkedIn? That’s where users go to be boring. As the internet’s corporate rolodex, LinkedIn gets the job done.

Brands Are Kind of Like Teenagers, So Instagram Copied Snapchat
Today, we woke up to a surprise announcement. Instagram launched Instagram Stories, a new feature that allows people to post collections of photos and videos that last 24 hours. If that sounds exactly like Snapchat Stories, well, that’s because it is. Instagram isn’t pretending it’s being original.

When Will the VR Revolution Come for Marketers?
Have you tried virtual reality yet? It’s a pretty common question among marketing and media types, who are excited by the new technology as much as anyone. If you have tried it, in all likelihood you’ve used Google Cardboard, Facebook’s Oculus, or Samsung’s Gear.

5 Charts That’ll Make You Realize How Much Social Media Has Changed Since 2014
If you work in media, you know a lot can change in two years. Think back to 2014. Tons of marketers still thought of Snapchat as a sexting platform. People were writing things like “Why Pinterest Ads Will Beat Facebook Ads.” Auto-play video, live streaming, and the ability to face-swap with your significant other were all on the horizon. Recently, Fractl and BuzzSumo teamed up...

How Luxury Brands Should Tackle Content Marketing Attribution
Attribution is a chief challenge for digital marketers, and that’s especially true for luxury brands. While 40 percent of luxury purchases are influenced by a digital experience, e-commerce purchases account for only four percent of luxury sales. Research predicts that online luxury sales will triple by 2020, indicating a heightened need for luxury brands...

The Psychology of Viral Content
Considering that two of the most recent internet sensations involved a pair of white sneakers and a Wookie mask, it’s easy to write off viral content as pure luck. Some marketers might argue that no one can predict content’s viral potential. However, these individuals are the same people repeatedly asking their marketing teams to “break the internet,” and with more than 75 percent...

How Google Designs Great Content, in 5 Steps
As brands put more focus and resources towards creating content, one of the biggest challenges they face is making sure their content isn’t just on brand, but that it breaks through and reaches people. To create this type of content for its global audience, Google, a company whose corporate motto used to be “Don’t be evil,”...

One Metaphor That’ll Help Your Content Marketing Hiring
Imagine that you own an American-style family restaurant—burgers, triple deckers, chef salads, meatloaf, that sort of thing. You hire an awesome restaurant manager, Kate, who kills it. She keeps the restaurant running smoothly, the customers happy...

Can Pokémon Go Survive Until August?
Since Pokémon Go came out last week, I’ve been obsessed. I’ve been getting off the subway one stop early to hatch my eggs in new places and look for Pokémon. Last weekend, I went to Central Park to look for rare Pokémon with my friends, only to find hundreds of other people doing the same. Even while writing this article...

Why Can’t YouTube Do Drama?
Given YouTube’s popularity, it’s surprising that the video platform doesn’t have its own Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or Game of Thrones—a singular story that creates shockwaves of influence across culture—especially considering YouTube’s recent push into scripted original series with YouTube Red. With billions of daily viewers and millions of creators, there should probably be at least one...

How to Overcome the ‘Three-Month Slump’ of Branded Content
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty,” Teddy Roosevelt famously said, when a young journalist transitioning to a role at a branded content studio asked for advice. Jokes aside, I’ve been lucky enough to experience the upside of the native ad industry’s explosive growth.

What CJR’s Study on Trust Tells Us About Content in 2016
Thanks to the internet, conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and all manner of half-truths and deceiving cons have exploded at an incredible rate. InfoWars, home of “the #1 Internet News Show in the World” and distributer of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s unique brand of paranoia, receives 5.2 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S., according to Quantcast. That’s more than vaunted news sites such as The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, NPR...

Can Longform Close the Gap Between What People Share and What They Actually Read?
Over the past six years, Longform has become a low-key oasis for readers and writers, a place to escape the daily grind for a quality read handpicked from around the web. Co-founders and Wesleyan grads Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky thought up the site after running out of good articles to read on their iPhones while on vacation. Since then, they’ve established a loyal community of readers, built a mobile app, and complemented the rich archive by interviewing writers of all backgrounds for a weekly podcast.

3 Keys to Great Content Marketing Design, According to The New York Times
Rachel Gogel is not a fan of the term “visual storytelling.” To her, it doesn’t capture the unique challenges designers face when telling a brand’s story. Gogel, the creative director for The New York Times’s T Brand Studio, is, of course, an expert visual storyteller herself, helping companies tell their stories through native advertisements.

7 Ways Facebook’s Big Algorithm Change Will Affect Marketers and Publishers
The day many marketers and publishers have dreaded has arrived: Facebook is changing its algorithm to send less traffic to content sites. In a blog post this morning, the social giant announced it will increasingly prioritize posts shared by friends and family...

Is Video the Future of Small Business Marketing?
A unicorn sits on a toilet and poops out rainbow ice cream while a Shakespearean man makes too many innuendos to count. That might not seem like the best way to market your company, but it’s actually the premise of one of last year’s most successful...

Will Facebook’s $50 Million Gamble Pay Off?
In 2011, YouTube paid more than $100 million to celebrities, social influencers, and media companies to create 100 exclusive channels on the video platform. Sound familiar? On June 21, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook, which for the past two years has been waging war to break into digital video...

What the Avengers Can Teach Us About Divisible Content
That’s not just an excuse to avoid the daunting task of building a strategy from scratch. In the past decade, films from the Marvel universe have not only raked in over $10 billion worldwide, but have also become an incredibly effective blueprint that can help anyone who works in media. Part of Marvel’s success...

The State of Digital Media, in 5 Charts
‘Tis the season of reports in the digital content industry. With Mary Meeker’s “2016 Internet Trends” report, PageFair’s annual ad-blocking report, IAB’s quarterly revenue update, and Pew Research’s “State of the News Media” all coming out within the span of a few weeks, there has been a flood of information about the current state of the media, advertising, and marketing industries.

How Equinox Makes Money From Luxury Content
There’s a difference between wanting to produce high-quality luxury content and actually doing it. While 73 percent of marketers say developing more engaging content is their top priority, only a handful of brands actually run successful content programs. One such brand is Equinox, the luxury fitness chain that sets itself apart from other high-end gyms with content...

The Best Brands on Twitter Don’t Tweet Like Brands
Does anyone care what SpahgettiOs thinks about Pearl Harbor? Or how Totino’s feels about the newest X-Men movie? What about when Kenneth Cole joked that violent protests in Egypt were a result of the clothing line’s new spring collection? No matter how many cringe-worthy tweets we’ve seen in the past, branded Twitter accounts seem fixated on capitalizing on the latest trend...

Chewbacca Mom Is Just the Beginning
On May 19, Candace Payne, now better known as “Chewbacca Mom,” live-streamed herself on Facebook as she tried on a Kohl’s brand Chewbacca mask. Three weeks later, she’s received a free trip Disney World, driven around with J.J. Abrams and James Corden, and collected what could amount to $400,000 in scholarships for her kids.

Medium Is Becoming a Major Platform, for Better or Worse
On June 1, Grantland came back—sort of. Seven months after ESPN shut Grantland down for good, The Ringer, Bill Simmons’s new publication, went live. The stories were the same creative, indulgent fare you’d find on Grantland, but the look was very different. It was more of a blog than a website.

3 Beer Brands Brewing Great Social Media Campaigns
Every Tuesday, the two-person social media team at Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company sits down to review last week’s social media analytics and determine what to put on the calendar for the week to come. They cover a lot of ground. New content might take the form of a beer cocktail recipe on the blog, a Twitter poll, an animated GIF, or a video highlighting its 25th anniversary “Collabeeration pack.” Everything is created in-house, and the duo has begun creating exclusive “beer geek"...

Why Is It So Hard for Millennials to Become Content Strategists?
People may throw eggs at me for this—or applaud me, depending on their age—but it’s hard out there for millennials. They were raised with all the can-do-it-iveness and ambition that their parents could pack in, but when they finally graduated and entered the job market, the financial crisis walloped them with high unemployment, low wages, and rising housing costs.

‘Don’t Make a Commercial’: The Onion’s CCO Explains Why So Much Content Marketing Sucks
The realest joke in all of marketing came three years ago in the form of an Onion article. As the entire media industry salivated over sponsored content as the new savior of publishing business models everywhere, The Onion released its Michelangelo: “Sponsored Content Pretty F*cking Awesome.” It revealed the naked absurdity of native advertising in a way that a blog post from Jeff Jarvis...

Does Censorship Kill the Appeal of User-Generated Content?
Coffin. Bill Cosby. Perky. Tacos. According to The Atlantic, these are four of the 3,415 words banned from Coca-Cola’s user-generated content campaign “GIF the Feeling.” Developed by the agency Oglivy & Mather, “GIF the Feeling” is user-generated content with a twist.

Rap Beef: The Story Behind Hamburger Helper’s Viral Trap Mixtape
Niles Stewart was up late the night before the mixtape dropped, so he woke up a little groggy on April 1. He checked his phone. Nothing. The 18-year-old rapper, comedian, and social media star from Maryland started to go about his day, like any normal Friday. A little later, he checked Twitter again.

LinkedIn ‘Instant Articles’: Good News or Time for Platform Panic?
This past week brought a piece of news that felt totally inevitable. No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump being crowned the presumptive Republican nominee. I’m talking about LinkedIn launching its own version of Instant Articles. According to BuzzFeed News, LinkedIn is exploring its own version...

Guess What? Nobody Uses Facebook Reactions
If any emoji could represent Facebook right now, it would be 😓. Why? According to a new study by quintly, a social analytics platform, Facebook’s hullabalooed Reactions buttons account for only three percent of all interactions on the social network. When Facebook officially launched six Reactions in February, it was a big deal. As writer Sarah Frier put it...

The Quest for the Perfect Headline
The best headline ever written is “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” It appeared on the front page of the New York Post in 1983—simple, symmetrical, and intriguing. Five words that tell a story but still compel you to find out more. Today, you’d probably never see that headline, at least not online. Most publishers now favor either conversational titles or listicles, ideally with some sort of...

The Customer Service Arms Race
The other day I had several questions about Olark, a San Francisco-based software company. So I went to the company’s website to find answers. But before I could even begin to look for a link to an FAQ page or help center, a pop-up featuring three smiling faces beckoned from the home page: “We’re Olark. Chat with us. Have a question about Olark?” I wrote back: “Is anyone there?..."

How Facebook Plans to Dominate Digital Communication Over the Next 10 Years
“We’ve gone from a world of isolated communities to a global community, and we are all the better off for it.” “I’m starting to see nations turning inwards… I hear fearful voices calling for building walls.” “I hope that we have the courage to see that the path forward is to bring people together, not tearing them apart.”

How Facebook’s ‘App for Everything’ Could Revolutionize Media and Marketing
Here’s a just a short list of things you can do, or soon will be able to do, through Facebook Messenger: hail an Uber, chat with customer service, send money to your friends, buy a nice pair of red heels, and share Spotify playlists. Yesterday, MarketingLand reported that Messenger will soon allow publishers to distribute content...

6 Emotions That Will Make or Break Your Content Strategy
For decades, marketers have had it drummed into them that triggering an emotional response from the audience is a vital component of any successful marketing campaign. This is still true, and nowhere more so than with content marketing. However, the art of marketing has evolved so much that this truism...

Apple Takes on the Government With Content
Forget revenue generation, brand awareness, or customer experience. Apple just released a piece of content with a far greater goal: to battle an unprecedented order by the U.S. government, and safeguard the 75 million iPhone users in America from a breach of privacy.

Inside Shopify’s Next-Level Newsroom
Tommy Walker and his editorial team at Shopify have every intention of getting you hooked. More benign than Walter White, Walker’s drug of choice is content, cooked with the same formula as your favorite TV show.


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