Authenticity and the Origins of Content Marketing
Content marketing is an industry that demands you pay close attention to emerging trends if you’re a marketer. When mobile devices started becoming more popular, content creators had to adapt to ensure their content was easily viewable on mobile devices. Now that video content is more accessible and more in-demand, written content specialists have had to adapt to create more visual assets for their brands.
We’re on the cusp of a new revolution in content marketing, and one that has the power to shift the balance in the industry. Consumers may soon judge your brand based heavily on the authenticity of your content.
Why Authenticity Is Driving A Content Marketing Revolution
Content marketing has a long history, even though we think of it as a recent idea. The explosion we know as the modern era of content marketing is attributable to two main factors, which are important to our understanding of content marketing’s future.
First, the availability of the internet made it possible for brands to create and distribute content, for free, to millions of people worldwide. This made content marketing extremely cost-effective.
Second, the abundance of traditional advertising, which often seeks to pitch a product and/or directly persuade consumers to buy it, left customers feeling burned out. They began to distrust advertising and seeing most traditional ads as an indistinguishable blur of white noise.
Content marketing stepped in as a lucrative alternative; it gave consumers real value, instead of trying to convince them to buy something, and seemed to be a more authentic message—if for no other reason than it didn’t seem to have an ulterior motive.
The New Threats
With roots in authenticity, it’s hard to imagine that content marketing would come under fire for being not authentic, but that’s the reality we face. Content marketing is currently staring down three main threats to its perceived authenticity:
Native advertising. Native ads exist to trick users into believing that paid (sponsored) content is legitimate, publisher-backed content on a publisher’s site. All it takes is a handful of disappointing clicks to lose a customer’s trust—both in the brand that’s paying for the ad and the brand that’s hosting it. In fact, this distrust might spread to other content publishers.
Market saturation. Market saturation is another problem. Content marketing has become ridiculously popular, to the point where almost every major brand is pushing their own strategy. This overabundance of content is starting to have the same effect that it had when traditional ads became overabundant.
Content marketing knowledge. Consumers are also becoming more aware that content marketing exists, and are becoming warrier about the articles they click on. Because the average amount of distrust and/or suspicion for any given article has risen in an era where the term “fake news” has been rebranded to apply to anything that the user of the phrase disagrees with, brands need to be careful to ensure their messages are authentic (or at least, perceived as authentic).
These trends won’t forcibly change the content marketing industry overnight, but they’re already beginning to settle in—and the proactive brands working to fix their authenticity problem are soon going to benefit from their efforts.