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20
Brand
Publishing
Predictions
for 2014
At Contently, we’re always thinking about the present and future
of brand publishing. Here are 20 predictions for brand publishing
in 2014 from around our Soho office.

1
⊳ 2013

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12
2015 ⊲
3. Transparency will become a major buzzword as

deceptive content strategies get brands in trouble.
There are way too many lightly-branded sites out
there that dubiously push a brands’ products, and
those brands will start getting called out for it this
year. On the flip side, brands that create great content
and put their name on it will win consumers’ trust.
— Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief
	@joelazauskas

1. The brand publishing arms race

will escalate.
As brands invest in creating better and
better content, they’ll battle to one-up
each other. It should be fun to watch.
— Shane Snow, Co-founder and CCO
	@shanesnow

4. BS metrics will die.

So far, brand publishers still have not figured out how to correctly measure
the return they are getting from their content marketing efforts. There’s no
proper methodology to help them with day-to-day optimization. In desperation,

2. “Native advertising” will cease to be a

buzzword or a bugaboo, instead both
brands and publishers will talk about
creating great stories.

they fall back to vanity metrics like shares and likes, but these are completely
useless when it comes to measuring the impact a company’s content
marketing efforts have on its brand. Existing analytics products are designed
for publishers that monetize by selling ads and are inappropriate

— Sam Slaughter, VP of Content
	@samslaughter215

for brand publishers. It’s the blind leading the blind.
In 2014, we’ll see new methodologies, tools and processes being developed
that will enable brand publishers to measure the return they’re getting from
their content marketing efforts and how to optimize their efforts on a day
to day basis.
— Paul Fredrich, Director of Product
	@pfredrich

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12
5. User experience will count.

Okay so, yes, as Contently’s UX designer, I have to say this one.
But it’s true! Mediocre storytelling and marketing just doesn’t cut
it anymore. A basic website is expected; design is no longer an
afterthought. Marketers need to blow their consumers away with
well thought-out experiences that are easy and enjoyable to use.
These types of well-designed experiences will be memorable and
more effective.
— Kelsey Rahn, UX Designer
	@KelseyRahn

7. We’ll see a trend towards “slow content.”

Not that the Buzzfeeds, Upworthys and HuffPos are
going away, but a parallel universe where longer reads,
weekly publication and heavily curated experiences are
preferred over listicle-happy, 10-second skimmers. And
while Marissa Mayer may have computers curating your

6. Agencies will

announce minicontent shops
/garages with
silly names.

reads through Aviate, human beings are at the helm of
these carefully-crafted sites.
— Margit Detweiler, Strategist
	@Margit

8. Branded content will continue to advance in volume

and quality.
Companies not traditionally in the media business are becoming
more sophisticated about content marketing, and a cornerstone

— Elisa Cool, Director Business Development
	@ElisaAnnCool

1

2

3

4

5

of that discipline is the ability to tell a story.
— Matthew Rothenberg, Strategist
	@mmrothenberg
6

7

8

9

10

11

12
11. Expect the return of the Esso Newsreel and the Camel News Caravan.

The next logical step for native advertising will see brands come to the fore of content
production, becoming sole owners of newspaper sponsors, magazine packages and

9. Instagram will develop feeds (god willing)

allowing individuals to filter content to
different audiences/followings for different
themes of work.

television programming. I think 2014 is the year that you will begin to see major news
organizations allow brands to directly sponsor stories and programming.
It will require bravery on the part of both sides — the sponsor to surrender some control

— Elisa Cool, Director Business Development
	@ElisaAnnCool

of the subject matter and to refrain from promotion; the news org to surrender the
appearance of objectivity on a subject. This is not great leap but a matter of semantics.
News and content have always been sponsored, this is just a matter of a single sponsor
taking a larger stake in the production and owning a greater share of the audience
benefits. This could even open some new doors to news orgs in terms of distribution and

10. 2014 will be for Content like 2010

was for Social — everyone is
going to jump on the bandwagon,
but not everyone is going to be
doing it equally well (naturally).

reporting access. Don’t look for anything radical here. I don’t expect to see 60 Minutes
and Kraft partner on an “Obesity in America” piece, but expect some cool stories to be
told in a cool new way.
— John Hazard, Director of Accounts
	 @jhazard

Smart CMOs will start asking
questions like, “What’s the bottomline ROI,” and companies like
Contently will need to have

12. More companies invest in the long view

of brand publishing and hire in-house
Chief Content Officers.

a better answer than Social
was able to provide.
— Rob Haber, Senior Account Director
	@robbyhaber

— Dori Fern, Strategist
	@DoriFern
1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12
13. By the end of 2014, every major publisher

will have a sponsored content offering.
— Shane Snow, Co-founder and CCO
	@shanesnow

14. Infographic overload will hit us,

and we’ll finally start seeing fewer
of them by next fall.
— Jonah Bliss, Director of Marketing
	@JonahBliss

15. Photography!
Data visualization!
Video!
These things enrich storytelling and we’ll see a lot more of them this year.

16. The Red Bull Effect will inspire

more companies will take a page
from the soft drink/extreme
sports/music brand’s uber-cool
style guide.

Sites like Instagram and Vine are taking over and leading us down a more
visual path. Written content is now just part of the storytelling equation. Things
like maps, charts and timelines allow users to interact with online experiences
which leads to higher engagement. Brands will use them to tell much better
stories in 2014.

They’ll find ways to connect with

— Kelsey Rahn, UX Designer
	@KelseyRahn

audiences more organically through
innovative soft-or-non-branded
content programming.
— Dori Fern, Strategist
	@DoriFern

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12
17. At least three brands will recruit a big-name journalist to

helm their media division.
Money talks. So does a budget and the promise of creative
control (save for the battles with legal). Those are things that
brands can offer, and they will.

20.  rands will take
B
the issue of
business results
seriously and start
tying publishing
results to business
results.

— Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief
	@joelazauskas

18. The agency game will change.

Expect to see a lot more standalone “custom
publishing” houses emerge, essentially new
agencies that eschew traditional media plan
building and sell services as content creators
and content marketing strategists.
— Rob Haber, Senior Account Director
	@robbyhaber

— Shane Snow, Co-founder and CCO
	@shanesnow
19. At least one writer will win a journalism

award for a story produced on behalf
of a brand.
— Sam Slaughter, VP of Content
	@samslaughter215

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12
Get ahead of these
brand publishing trends in 2014
with Contently
contently.com/strategist

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2014 Brand Publishing Predictions

  • 1. 20 Brand Publishing Predictions for 2014 At Contently, we’re always thinking about the present and future of brand publishing. Here are 20 predictions for brand publishing in 2014 from around our Soho office. 1 ⊳ 2013 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 2015 ⊲
  • 2. 3. Transparency will become a major buzzword as deceptive content strategies get brands in trouble. There are way too many lightly-branded sites out there that dubiously push a brands’ products, and those brands will start getting called out for it this year. On the flip side, brands that create great content and put their name on it will win consumers’ trust. — Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief @joelazauskas 1. The brand publishing arms race will escalate. As brands invest in creating better and better content, they’ll battle to one-up each other. It should be fun to watch. — Shane Snow, Co-founder and CCO @shanesnow 4. BS metrics will die. So far, brand publishers still have not figured out how to correctly measure the return they are getting from their content marketing efforts. There’s no proper methodology to help them with day-to-day optimization. In desperation, 2. “Native advertising” will cease to be a buzzword or a bugaboo, instead both brands and publishers will talk about creating great stories. they fall back to vanity metrics like shares and likes, but these are completely useless when it comes to measuring the impact a company’s content marketing efforts have on its brand. Existing analytics products are designed for publishers that monetize by selling ads and are inappropriate — Sam Slaughter, VP of Content @samslaughter215 for brand publishers. It’s the blind leading the blind. In 2014, we’ll see new methodologies, tools and processes being developed that will enable brand publishers to measure the return they’re getting from their content marketing efforts and how to optimize their efforts on a day to day basis. — Paul Fredrich, Director of Product @pfredrich 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
  • 3. 5. User experience will count. Okay so, yes, as Contently’s UX designer, I have to say this one. But it’s true! Mediocre storytelling and marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore. A basic website is expected; design is no longer an afterthought. Marketers need to blow their consumers away with well thought-out experiences that are easy and enjoyable to use. These types of well-designed experiences will be memorable and more effective. — Kelsey Rahn, UX Designer @KelseyRahn 7. We’ll see a trend towards “slow content.” Not that the Buzzfeeds, Upworthys and HuffPos are going away, but a parallel universe where longer reads, weekly publication and heavily curated experiences are preferred over listicle-happy, 10-second skimmers. And while Marissa Mayer may have computers curating your 6. Agencies will announce minicontent shops /garages with silly names. reads through Aviate, human beings are at the helm of these carefully-crafted sites. — Margit Detweiler, Strategist @Margit 8. Branded content will continue to advance in volume and quality. Companies not traditionally in the media business are becoming more sophisticated about content marketing, and a cornerstone — Elisa Cool, Director Business Development @ElisaAnnCool 1 2 3 4 5 of that discipline is the ability to tell a story. — Matthew Rothenberg, Strategist @mmrothenberg 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
  • 4. 11. Expect the return of the Esso Newsreel and the Camel News Caravan. The next logical step for native advertising will see brands come to the fore of content production, becoming sole owners of newspaper sponsors, magazine packages and 9. Instagram will develop feeds (god willing) allowing individuals to filter content to different audiences/followings for different themes of work. television programming. I think 2014 is the year that you will begin to see major news organizations allow brands to directly sponsor stories and programming. It will require bravery on the part of both sides — the sponsor to surrender some control — Elisa Cool, Director Business Development @ElisaAnnCool of the subject matter and to refrain from promotion; the news org to surrender the appearance of objectivity on a subject. This is not great leap but a matter of semantics. News and content have always been sponsored, this is just a matter of a single sponsor taking a larger stake in the production and owning a greater share of the audience benefits. This could even open some new doors to news orgs in terms of distribution and 10. 2014 will be for Content like 2010 was for Social — everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon, but not everyone is going to be doing it equally well (naturally). reporting access. Don’t look for anything radical here. I don’t expect to see 60 Minutes and Kraft partner on an “Obesity in America” piece, but expect some cool stories to be told in a cool new way. — John Hazard, Director of Accounts @jhazard Smart CMOs will start asking questions like, “What’s the bottomline ROI,” and companies like Contently will need to have 12. More companies invest in the long view of brand publishing and hire in-house Chief Content Officers. a better answer than Social was able to provide. — Rob Haber, Senior Account Director @robbyhaber — Dori Fern, Strategist @DoriFern 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
  • 5. 13. By the end of 2014, every major publisher will have a sponsored content offering. — Shane Snow, Co-founder and CCO @shanesnow 14. Infographic overload will hit us, and we’ll finally start seeing fewer of them by next fall. — Jonah Bliss, Director of Marketing @JonahBliss 15. Photography! Data visualization! Video! These things enrich storytelling and we’ll see a lot more of them this year. 16. The Red Bull Effect will inspire more companies will take a page from the soft drink/extreme sports/music brand’s uber-cool style guide. Sites like Instagram and Vine are taking over and leading us down a more visual path. Written content is now just part of the storytelling equation. Things like maps, charts and timelines allow users to interact with online experiences which leads to higher engagement. Brands will use them to tell much better stories in 2014. They’ll find ways to connect with — Kelsey Rahn, UX Designer @KelseyRahn audiences more organically through innovative soft-or-non-branded content programming. — Dori Fern, Strategist @DoriFern 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
  • 6. 17. At least three brands will recruit a big-name journalist to helm their media division. Money talks. So does a budget and the promise of creative control (save for the battles with legal). Those are things that brands can offer, and they will. 20. rands will take B the issue of business results seriously and start tying publishing results to business results. — Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief @joelazauskas 18. The agency game will change. Expect to see a lot more standalone “custom publishing” houses emerge, essentially new agencies that eschew traditional media plan building and sell services as content creators and content marketing strategists. — Rob Haber, Senior Account Director @robbyhaber — Shane Snow, Co-founder and CCO @shanesnow 19. At least one writer will win a journalism award for a story produced on behalf of a brand. — Sam Slaughter, VP of Content @samslaughter215 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
  • 7. Get ahead of these brand publishing trends in 2014 with Contently contently.com/strategist