And in 2015, the industry is set to build on the 30% growth it witnessed this year. So what are the key trends we can expect to see next year?
Firstly is the likely growth of video content beyond its status as a pure-play marketing tool into a direct driver of commerce and lead-generation tool. Marks & Spencer and Waitrose TV have tread this course to some degree but expect more to follow suit in 2015, particularly as marketing budgets gets more squeezed.
Video’s value as a marketing tool, however, will not be diminished in 2015, but expect YouTube and other video content channels to be dominated like never before by ‘real people with a passion’ next year. Also, a dropping off in brands working with established stars. Quite simply, consumers are more demanding of their time and they will not tolerate fakery.
Not to be outdone, TV content will still cut though in 2015, though interestingly brands are making inroads into funding TV content by selling related memorabilia. Pioneering this has been price comparison site comparethemarket.com which achieved sky-high sales of replica toys and other related products of the Meerkats which starred in its famed TV ads.
Likewise, John Lewis is hoping for a similar halo effect with healthy sales of products relating to Monty The Penguin, the star of its Christmas advert. Such a new funding stream is bound to be imitated in 2015 to some degree.
With little sign of consumer appetite for content slowing down, expect to see an increasing number of brands repackaging successful existing content, so that it has a longer shelf-life. As more brands are finding out, it is not necessarily the newest content which is the most viewed or engineers the most traffic, so if a particular piece of content is a hit, brands will be increasingly squeezing it to the nth degree.
What these trends show is that content marketing is growing fast and with that becoming increasingly broader in its definition. Is it editorial? Is it entertainment? Is it thought leadership? Well, it is all of these things and more for brands looking to engage with audiences.
Clare Hill, managing director, Content Marketing Association
Images by Noah Da Costa