Tag Archives: Content Management

Curating Frustration

I realize yesterday might have seemed as if it was Foodie Friday since the topic was food related.

English: Steacie Science and Engineering Libra...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, Foodie Friday the 13th is today, and I’m going to focus on an unlucky site’s marketing today. While I’m not going to mention their name, I’ll say upfront that it’s a site I generally find incredibly helpful. They curate recipes and do so with beautiful photos. Their emails are just as pretty and generally quite useful. Which is why I’m calling them out today and hopefully making a business point in the process.

This morning’s email was about side dishes which will “compliment your holiday spread.”  Of the 21 photos they used to tease me to click through, four were latkes, one was a noodle kugel, and two involved challah.  Since Hanukah has been over for a couple of weeks, that “holiday spread” is long gone.  In fact, many of the other recipes in the collection were not really appropriate for a winter holiday at all.  Grilled potatoes?

My point is this.  If you’re curating content, you’re supposed to be picking the best content that applies to a particular subject.  Relevance is a big deal, as is how the content is organized and presented.  This site generally gets high marks for the latter two but when a third of what you’re presenting is appropriate for a holiday that’s long gone, you’ve failed.

You might be thinking “well, this isn’t an issue for me since we don’t curate content.”  I’d be surprised if that was true, dear reader.  Almost every business is in the content creation and/or distribution business these days, either of your own content or that of others which you think might be useful to your audience.  Email, social channels, and your own website (not to mention advertising!) are all places where you’re publishing.  Being relevant and useful are critical.  Organizing it in such a way that readers can slice and dice it as they like is important.  It’s all part of listening to your customers and continuing the conversation.

Giving someone a great recipe for grilled anything while the grill is covered in snow not only isn’t useful, it’s frustrating.  Hitting them up with the right content at the right time in the right channel with an easy way to take action should they so choose is magnificent.  Which will you choose to do?

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Content Worthy Of Your Brand

The biggest challenge I face producing the screed each and every weekday is not in the writing of it. Most of the time the words come pretty easily. The challenge is in finding topics that I think will both enlighten and entertain you guys. Some days it seems as if there’s plenty about which to write; other days I stare at the screen while sorting through hundreds of articles trying to think of something that meets my standard – hopefully yours as well.


(Photo credit: thinkmedialabs)

That challenge is shared by anyone who creates content: how to produce something that’s worthy of the audience‘s attention. How to produce something that satisfies the attention/value exchange on a fair basis. It’s a challenge that I think is met less and less often (and not just by me!) and let me explain how it might affect you on both ends of the equation.

I guess it’s obvious how it does on the consumer side.  None of us like to invest our time and attention and be served the content equivalent of one of the foams that have gone so out of style in the food world.  These foams are airy and sort of have a flavor but they fade quickly and are pretty unsatisfying.  My real concern is how it affects you on the other end – the business side.

Everyone had become a content-producer.  Companies that make remote controls or eyeglasses are suddenly making content as well.  Sometimes they hire people who once were copywriters but now are “branded content producers.”  Idiots who film their friends at parties are now “rich content generators”.  Kids who annoy their friends over social networks are hired as social media content specialists.  Everyone and every brand produces “content.”

The effect is that we’re all overwhelmed by a lot of crap that doesn’t serve the audience.  White papers that are just ads for a product.  PR releases disguised as microsites.  The answer to this is, I think, not to get caught up in it if you’re a brand.  If you are going to send something out into the world, make it as good as your product.  After all, you wouldn’t let something out of your door with your brand on it that was inferior.  Make it as smart as your audience and worthy not just of their attention but also of the audience with which you want them to share it.  Hire professionals to generate it on your behalf, not your nephew who can speak reasonably well.

Anyone can produce drivel (and no remarks about how this blog proves that point).  Great brands need to produce great content.  Right?

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RTB Means Really Tough Business

The always reliable Digiday did a piece yesterday on Real Time Bidding (some folks say Buying) and the effect it’s having on web publishers. Entitled “Publishers Face RTB Pressures,” it’s an excellent though depressing overview of what’s happening in the digital publishing business due to the steady growth of programmatic ad buying. I can’t sum it up any better than this:

The drive for more efficient buys in RTB is putting pricing pressure on the entire display ad market. According to Magna Global, display advertising globally rose just 1.5 percent in 2013. That’s not very good in a market that expanded 14.4 percent overall for the year. In fact, the reason Magna identified: price drops.

That’s the situation today, when 17 percent of buying is through exchanges. In five years, Magna director of global forecasting Vincent Letang expects 43 percent of display advertising to be bought and sold via exchanges.

In other words, there’s too much inventory and these formulae don’t give the quality of your content enough consideration.  Heaven forbid that humans actually enter the equation!  Before all of my friends who sell non-digital media get too smug, one can rest assured that when the efficiencies of this buying protocol become evident that someone will push it on TV and print just as sure as the sun shines.  So is this a bad thing?

If you’re buying audiences for your marketing messages, no, it’s not.  It is, however, if you’re a content creator who tries to make money off your content by selling the audiences it attracts.  I suppose that means that if I were in the content business I’d get the hell out by selling off my audience monetization to someone else – a publisher or distributor.  I’d give up some of the upside in return for protecting the downside push to the bottom RTB is forcing.  As the article says “Efficiency is a great thing unless what you do is what is being made more efficient.”  It’s not going to be long (and it may be here already) before the quality of the content is impacted as the resources to produce consistently great stuff just aren’t there.

If I were back being a publisher, I’d be spending a lot of time having someone think about our syndication strategy and fast.  Let  someone else ride the ad wave down to the bottom.  My content – and yours – is worth more than that.

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Making Snacks

Another thought-provoking report from the folks at eMarketer last week.  This one is called “The Smartphone Class: Connected Consumers Transform US Commerce and Culture.”  When you think about it, are you aware of anyone who has purchased a new phone in the last year that hasn’t bought a smartphone of some sort?  I don’t want to sound like a techno-snob and I’m well aware that the installed base of “feature phones” – those that some things such as text beyond just voice but aren’t really smart phones (Android, iPhones, etc.) is still pretty large (as in almost half), but giving them a ton of thought is akin to filming TV showsin black and white when color became the norm.

While Apple has not listened to my complaints ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In any event:

eMarketer estimates nearly 116 million Americans will use a smartphone at least monthly by the end of this year, up from 93.1 million in 2011. By 2013, they will represent over half of all mobile phone users, and by 2016, nearly three in five consumers will have a smartphone.

Turns out, eMarketer underestimated how quickly they’d be the majority:

50.4% of U.S. mobile subscribers owned smartphones in March 2012, up from 47.8% in December 2011, according to Q1 2012 data from Nielsen Mobile Insights. Broken down by operating system: Android was first with a 48.5% share, followed by Apple’s iOS (32%), RIM‘s BlackBerry (11.6%), Windows Mobile (4.1%), Windows Phone (1.7%), and other (2.1%).

What’s interesting is how this has changed user behavior.  People with these devices are “always on.”  They are constantly consuming content, generally in small increments.  A few minutes of news, a funny video, 10 minutes of a game while commuting.  The issue becomes how are the old guard of content producers adapting?  It’s great that TV shows are available across platforms, but the study tells us that a 20 minute TV episode is unlikely to hit the sweet spot of consumption.  Could it be that the nature of TV itself changes?  What made the 30 or 60 minute episode king other than an ability to tell people when to tune in?

So while “consuming content in frequent, small portions means more touch points for marketers,” it seems to me that users want to be touched differently from how they’ve been in the past.  If we’re producing content, we need to keep that in mind.  And I’ll just leave it there before we head into weirdness.

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More Access, Less Time

I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with all of the great content that’s out there.  I was reminded of that this morning as yet another podcast installed itself along side the other 15 hours of stuff I haven’t listened to yet.  Those go along with the backlog of magazines I love but haven’t read (oh look, the summer grilling issue is out!), the TV shows lingering on my DVR (don’t tell me if Nucky is in jail yet), and the books stacked up like planes over LaGuardia.  Which is why I find the data from eMarketer on tablets and smartphones disturbing. Continue reading

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Paperless Books

Today’s title might have been seen as an oxymoron just a few years ago.  I mean, the notion of a “book” without paper was as unrealistic as book publishers graciously declining to publish an author’s work and doing so promptly.

Then came e-readers which some said would hurt the book industry.  As with the music business, book publishers did whatever they could to prevent digital downloads of books by charging exorbitant prices (the same prices as if the book had to be printed on paper) and refusing to allow certain titles to go digital.  With the Kindle and other reading devices reaching scale (roughly 15% of American readers have one), the industry has come to recognize that porting content to another platform may be disruptive in the short-term but potentially a great thing over time.  Want more proof? Continue reading

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Kate the Desktop Computer

Image by Gino Carteciano via Flickr

I have seen the future and it’s disconnected! From what? From the wall, from the wire, and maybe from you if you’re a content creator who’s not thinking ahead. I used to write this on my desktop PC; today I’m writing it on my laptop; tomorrow, I could be writing it on a tablet or my phone (which I do sometimes now in a pinch). Fortunately for me, the CMS I use (WordPress) has versions optimized for each device. It’s not quite so easy, however, if you’re producing content rather than software, especially video content, and that’s going to be a critical fix on your “to do” list if it’s not already. Continue reading

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