2013 was a very interesting year for internet marketing. Google pushed many algorithm updates, testing SEO experts on how well they could work through Google's special formula, quality of content was realized as sharing became a major player in content discovery. But with marketing in the new age, nothing can stay the same for a very long time before you have to find another way to stand out and get noticed. New trends are always sought after, but the start of the new year prompts this more than any other time. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to hear about our reflections on 2013 and what interesting trends we have become privy to, as well as our predictions as to what will reign supreme in 2014.


Hello, and welcome to The Daily Brown Bag. Today, we’re going to be talking about our predictions for 2014. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. 2013 sure was an interesting year--a lot of interesting trends. Content marketing really came into its own, of course we saw major algorithmic updates from Google, Panda and Penguin, and everyone is looking at 2014 and trying to figure out what’s going to happen, and there’s a lot of discussion. Content marketing is still strong. We’re hearing these new terms like “native advertising,” and of course digital marketing agencies are trying to figure out how social fits in and what they should be offering. So, I was hoping today, Chad, we could dive into what our predictions are, particularly around these new terms, native advertising. Where do we see these coming into play, and what do folks in our community need to know for 2014?

Great question, Adam, and it definitely is on a lot of people’s minds at this point who are trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their budgets and their strategies for 2014. I do think, as you mentioned, that in 2014, content marketing will continue to be a very important part of digital marketing strategy, and that’s really because it continues to be the kernel of your online marketing program, because part of your content marketing is for SEO, part of your content marketing is for social media, and then we’re starting to see this emergence of native advertising, which means that now content marketing and content are becoming part of your advertising program. I think that will continue to emerge. I think some of the things that will continue to happen are that there will be new ways to develop content. It used to be that you had to hire very expensive subject matter experts to develop content that was useful and valuable to people who were reading it. I think some of the things we’ve been doing have been able to bring the ability for smaller companies to be able to do good content marketing and help bring it downmarket, but there are people who are even going further than what we’re doing by creating some software and products to help businesses that can’t afford an agency to be able to start creating relevant, interesting, contextually relevant content through software approaches. So, there is a lot of interesting stuff going on there.

That’s going to, then, merge into native advertising, so the big, new place that people will start using content they’re creating is native advertising. Publishers, the people who had sites out there that used to sell banner advertising, are seeing that the cost per click rate that they’re able to get when they place a link that says, “Here’s a related story to the one you’re reading” and have that either stay on their website and go to a piece of paid content, or leave the website and go to a piece of paid content, is significantly higher, so they’re finally able to address some of the issues that online publishers are having in terms of actually making real money off their ads.

Wow, there’s so much there to sink your teeth into. In some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. “Content is king” is something we said in SEO five years ago, and here we are headed into 2014, and everything you’re describing has high quality content as its source. So, this theme continues to be important. We heard it in San Francisco a couple weeks ago at the Leading in Local Conference. We heard HubSpot talk about this in a fascinating session where they said that the key to inbound marketing is content marketing, and any firm that has not figured out how to assembly line high-quality content generation and become a publisher and turn their internal assets into mini-journalists really has not figured this out. It all is coming together, but then you branch into these new terms, Chad, like native advertising, which I think is confusing for a lot of people. I know it is, a bit for me, and one of my predictions is that in 2014, we will see a lot of debate over exactly what that is. Is native advertising an advertorial? Is native advertising, as I heard you describe it, a way to buy a paid link placement? Sometimes it sounds like it is. Is it contextual advertising with just a different ad copy format?

I think these are all valid questions, and this term is so new, and it is the next iteration where content marketing is merging with display advertising. We’ll see some very interesting debates and flare-ups as that’s worked out and people try to nail down the revenue models. But, what’s clear, and I think your final point is right there, and I want to punctuate it, is that the small digital agency needs to be right in the middle of this, or they need to be partnering with someone who understands all these pieces, because these just can’t be disjointed. It is tough. You’ve got social over on one side, display advertising and PPC, and then your SEO bucket and content creation. They really are merging, and it is very fascinating. I think it will be an exciting year. We’d like to hear your thoughts on the topic, of course, too. Please give us some comments, and we hope you’ll subscribe to our YouTube channel, and join us again next year for our Brown Bag series.