Our annual content marketing research was released last week, and as Stephanie Stahl of CMI noted, “companies are awakening to the power of content marketing in part as a result of the pandemic.”
I say, “Yes, and…” through the lens of our 18-month consulting and advisory work with over 30 brands.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously stated in spring 2020, “We’ve seen the equivalent of two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”
Since then, at least three significant disruptions have occurred, allowing us to discern where we may be headed. Additionally, identifying the implications of these disruptions can assist you in developing strategies for the future of content and marketing.
Disruption 1: Consumer time shifting and brand legacy
That does sound significant, doesn’t it? It’s a fancy way of saying that things are moving faster and that people now have a lot more content to choose from.
You’re probably already familiar with the concept of time shifting in terms of how people consume and spend time with content. However, let us put the goldfish theory to rest once and for all. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the fact that humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish.
Naturally, this is not true. We have a significantly longer attention span than goldfish. Our capacity to binge-watch Ted Lasso, Game of Thrones, or Squid Game demonstrates our attention span. Though, as Ted Lasso might put it, “we might be happier if we had a goldfish’s memory.” However, that is a separate discussion.
Our attention spans have not shrunk – our patience has.
It is not just our tolerance for interruptive advertising; it is our tolerance for any form of interruptive communication. For instance, a recent study discovered that Americans answer less than half of all mobile phone calls.
Not only do we despise interruptions, but we also understand that any content with which we engage can be easily replaced with the click of a button. You’re not a fan of the TikTok video? Swipe upward. You’re not a fan of that Netflix show? Backspace out of it and into another window. Are you unable to obtain the information you require within eight seconds of clicking on a search result? Return to the previous page to attempt again.
However, it is the brand component of this disruption that interests me the most. It’s a trend in which a lack of patience and the ease with which replacement content can be acquired erodes some of the ability (or, as some might argue, the necessity) to build a brand legacy.
According to McKinsey & Company, the average life expectancy of a company on the Standard & Poor’s index was 61 years in 1958. It is now less than 18 years. Within five to six years, McKinsey believes that 75% of the companies on the S&P 500 will be acquired, merged, or fail.
With that rapid evolution, product and service brands have become increasingly similar to startups, fashion, or media in terms of how quickly they are launched, gain popularity, earn audience trust, and then fall out of favor, outlive their welcome, or are replaced by another.
In some ways, the content brands that these companies launch (or acquire) are becoming as critical to the business as their products and services.