Where Does The Content Budget Come From?

Unless you work for a very unusual, or highly progressive, organization, it’s unlikely there’s a formal content division within the enterprise. The much-ballyhooed but rarely seen in the wild Chief Content Officer really doesn’t exist. Or when the odd one is spotted, the species is too rare and dispersed to reproduce, at least for now.

That’s why the recent research report I published, Organizing for Content, proposes six real world organizational structures for companies grappling with the need to feed the beast from an operational perspective. These models are deliberately presented in a non-hierarchical fashion. The point is to push companies into doing something constructive and collaborative to promote content collaboration, production, workflow, and strategy.

These organizational models matter for another very important reason: they can help create, or at least to flow, budget into content operations and initiatives.

The “Free” Fallacy

Image used by permission from Shutterstock.com

Image used by permission from Shutterstock.com

Content marketing operated under an enormous fallacy just a few short years ago. Marketers dove into content initiatives head first because they’re…. free! Blogs? Free. Facebook? Free! Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, all free, free, free.

For a delirious moment or two, content marketing seemed to be the marketing equivalent of an all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet: perhaps a bit lacking in the quality department, but abundant and bountiful in every other respect.

The only thing wrong with all this “free” is that it isn’t. Content costs time, energy and resources, even when it’s “only” blogging. Particularly if it’s good blogging.  Moreover, content costs are escalating, not only in terms of engaging the creative talent to execute, but also in investments in infrastructure, channels and technology.

When I conducted research last year into content investments, I spoke with 57 major brand marketers, many at Fortune 100 companies. An overwhelming trend is a move away from more inexpensive forms of content (i.e., anything involving the written word: blogs, email, newsletters, press releases, white papers, etc.) and into more technically complex channels: mobile, video and multimedia.

All these require deeper investment in technology and talent than that hackneyed “hire an unemployed journalist” strategy.

Content Marketing Needs Its Own Budget

There are new reasons why content needs its own budget (aside from the fact that CMSs cost money, too).

Currently we’re conducting research on native advertising. In working to define a very murky term, something is becoming crystal clear. Native advertising is a form of converged media: owned media (content) + paid media (advertising).

Again and again in the interview process, we’re asking stakeholders in the native advertising ecosystem where campaigns start. Who, in the constellation of publishers, agencies, brands and software vendors, is the go-to person for native advertising buys, executions, and creative?

Again and again, all the constituents are pointing to “content.” Not agency media or creative departments, not social media, and not those people traditionally associated with “campaigns” on the brand side.

The problem in moving native advertising forward, goes the consensus, is that it’s difficult to identify who’s responsible for content: no content “departments” on the client side, nor deep content capabilities on the agency side of the equation.

Everyone’s scrambling to organize for content, and with good reason. With clickthrough rates plummeting and severe downward price pressure on traditional display advertising, the future of digital advertising may well depend on it.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column


About The Author: is an analyst at the Altimeter Group where she covers digital advertising and marketing. A consultant, author, and sought-after speaker, Rebecca is the former head of Econsultancy's US operations. She was VP and editor-in-chief of The ClickZ Network for over seven years. For a portion of that time, Rebecca also ran Search Engine Watch.

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  • http://www.altaresources.com/ Cory Grassell

    Great insights. I’m amazed by the number of companies that want, even demand, great content but aren’t willing to invest in it. Over time, this will (I hope) change course, as they realize the importance of quality content for lead generation, branding, etc. It’s vital for exposure and survival in a Web world.

    Of course, I’m biased and a bit protective because it’s my profession, something I love to do. But it’s like every other job in that there is process in play, which includes research, refining, targeting, development, editing, multichannel integration, etc. And as more realize that content will “cost” them, I’m finding that more companies want an all-in-one content developer: someone who can write, edit his/her own work, optimize, and even dabble in Web design and development.

  • http://www.indiastonecreative.com/ India Stone

    Great perspective from someone who obviously understands the shift that is taking place. Companies are just beginning to see the need to invest in content as a way to stay relevant, and publishing quality content cannot be achieved by asking existing employees to spend a few extra minutes each day writing a blog post. This just won’t do, and customers see right through it. Companies must hire a professional web content writer who understands how to speak the language of online customers and how to make that content climb up in the search rankings. This is a skill set best delegated to someone with experience in the field of web content marketing.


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