What Will Content Marketing Be Like in 10 Years?

Written by Sharon Hooper   
Friday, 24 November 2017 03:32

What Will Content Marketing Be Like in 10 Years?

What do you think the main characteristic of a brilliant content marketer is?

Predicting trends.

Not following, but predicting.

How do you do that? Do you start some secret training that gives you the power to predict the future? No. You just analyze the past and the present trends. Then, you rely on your sixth sense when wondering: “where is this going?”

You cannot predict the future of marketing with 100% certainty. The least you could do, however, is follow the current trends and experiment with new ones.

Let’s do that today, shall we? Let’s explore the history and present of content marketing, so we can get a visionary insight into the future.

The History of Content Marketing

Content Marketing in the 90’s

Was content marketing in the 90’s all about lousy chain emails? Well, chain email messages were an important part of content marketing, so they deserve an honorable mention.

In 1999, Hotmail became the world’s largest email service. It’s growth in numbers: from zero to 30 million users in 30 months. The service presented a new opportunity for businesses: chain emails… something we now know as spam.

This made it easy for businesses to spread information quickly. However, it also created the trend of spreading false information. One of the most bizarre messages, for example, promised that Microsoft would pay the recipient $245 for every person they forwarded the message to. Nope, that didn’t happen.


It wasn’t only about chain emails, though.

During the 90’s, content marketing was as close to traditional marketing as we imagined it. If you wanted your company’s message in front of the target audience, you placed an ad on traditional platforms, such as TV, radio, and billboards.

The 90’s were special for a big reason: people started using the Internet. It changed the way they were receiving and consuming information. The site Hotwired charged $30,000 for a 12-week ad. This site invented the banner ad in 1994, so yes – it had the privilege to set such high standards.


Print media, Yellow Pages, fax, radio, TV, billboards, chain email, and even website banners – all these methods were pretty straightforward.

When did marketing get so complicated? Today, you have to reach your audience across multiple channels and devices, so result tracking is getting really hard. Let’s see how that happened.

Content Marketing in the Early 2000’s

This was the era of revolution in content marketing. Social networks changed everything. Millions of people started connecting with each other. Marketing experts saw an opportunity to present their offer through these platforms. This was a completely new category of marketing rising: social media marketing.

Blogs gained popularity, too. Although the first blog was created back in 1994, it took a while for blogging to become central to content marketing strategy. At the beginning, blogs were personal journals. In the early 2000’s, blogging became a way for brands to spread awareness and engage their audiences.

By this point, the Internet was everywhere. It was still looked as a hobby and not as a necessity by most people in the early 2000’s. Content marketers got access to a larger, global audience. With the launch of Facebook and Twitter (in 2004 and 2006, respectively), everything was about to change.

Content Marketing in the Late 2000’s and Early 2010’s

Smartphones and tablets. Everywhere! These devices gave instant access to all content on the Internet anytime, anywhere. The concept of content marketing started taking a new shape. Now, marketers were making sure their content strategies were getting mobile-friendly.

Traditional marketing processes no longer worked. At this point, people were looking for fast, accurate information they could process in an instant. Content marketers started investing huge efforts into the simplest, shortest ads.

Brevity and clarity. It seems like content marketing was finally getting simple. In reality, however, it was getting more complicated than ever. A simple tweet for President Cheese posted on April 30, 2014, took almost two months to create.


Long production timelines can kill a brand’s content marketing campaign. The market required more content on a regular basis. LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest… all platforms have to take place in a single marketing campaign.

There is one trend that’s been pretty consistent in content marketing ever since the invention of online search engines. You’re guessing: search engine optimization. It is still going strong, but it’s constantly evolving into new shapes.

Content Marketing Today and Content Marketing in 10 Years: The Trends that Help Us Predict the Future

The content that marketers use to make their offer is different. They are finally realizing that people don’t like aggressive ads. They won’t share a banner. Joe McCambley, who helped with the creation of the first ever banner ad, put it nicely: “My children tell me it’s like inventing smallpox.”

What we’re trying to do today is provide value. We’re giving the audience content that informs and entertains, in the form they would like to receive it in.

It’s a very interesting point in the evolution of content marketing, to say the least.

Since we can’t really predict the state of content marketing in 10 years, the least we could do is analyze the current trends and think: where could they lead us to?

Current Trend: Video Content

It is HUGE, and we haven’t seen the best of it yet.

People are using their mobile devices more than ever. They want vibrant, engaging content they can interact with. Video is the kind of content they are looking for. It gives them the relevance, value, and level of engagement they expect.

That’s how important video is. We should’ve seen this trend coming by analyzing the behavior of people since the middle of the 20th century. They were practically mesmerized by TV screens.

Why is video content so successful?



Live video doesn’t work only for influencers. Any kind of organization can organize Q&A sessions or promote events this way. NASA, in particular, has been using live video aggressively lately.


Where Is It Going?

According to a report by Cisco, one million minutes of video content will cross the network every second by 2021. On a global level, IP video traffic is expected to rise to 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021.

Richard Manson, a content marketer from Essayontime, explains: “Currently, online video is one of the main ways for people to satisfy their needs for information and entertainments. Content marketers got this, and the trend is only expected to get bigger. In 10 years? We’re expecting to see more types of content presented through videos. Marketers will be presenting long-form articles through easily-digestible video content.”

Another thing: are we bringing paid content back on track? Currently, most of the video content we’re watching is absolutely free. We’re not willing to pay for watching recipes when our Facebook feeds are flooded with free videos showing us how to cook.

That may change. According to a report by Nielsen, teens are getting more willing to pay for digital content. In the latest survey, 63% of the participants said they purchased digital video in the past year. In 2016, that percentage was 45%. The difference is obvious.

Young adults want to purchase video because they want to enrich their collections, they want bonus features, and they want to watch videos when Internet access is not available. That’s something for content marketers to think about.

Current Trend: Other Interactive Content

The dominant use of mobile imposes the need for more interactive content. When a brand develops interactive content, it brings the target audience at later points in the consumer journey. That’s because they can influence further actions.

According to research by Content Marketing Institute, 46% of the marketers who took the survey were using interactive content. They listed these reasons for doing so: engagement, educating the audience, increasing brand awareness, and lead generation.

Infographics are the most commonly used type of interactive content. In addition, content marketers are also using calculators, quizzes, and assessments. BuzzFeed, in particular, is famous for its quizzes.

Where Is It Going?

46% is not too much. Not even half of marketers are using interactive content. However, the same survey by Content Marketing Institute also showed that 79% of marketers were planning to use more interactive content in the next year. This shows us that the trend is on the rise.

We’re not expecting anything extraordinary. In fact, lighter interactive content experiences, such as infographics and quizzes, may be more effective than intensive lookbooks and endless assessments. 52% of the marketers who took the survey said they would be encouraged to use interactive content if they found better tools to simplify the process.

Current Trend: Better Quality through More Digestible Content

Voice search is how most of us interact with their mobile phones. It has changed the way marketers approached search engine optimization. They are now focusing on conversational keywords. They are developing content that answers specific questions. This means we’re getting quality in a new format: content marketers are answering actual questions and they are basically interacting with the audience through the results they present.

When Internet users are relying on voice search, they have a clear intent. Marketers are providing the information the audience needs through improved FAQ pages and content that targets high-intent questions in searches. On top of optimizing for search engines, we’re optimizing for voice searches, too. As a result, we’re getting more digestible content.

This brings us to the aspect of quality. It’s still important. No matter what types of content they are providing, marketers are always focused on delivering the best quality. The audience no longer wastes time on click baits, chain emails, and banner ads. They want the real thing. They need content that solves problems.

Where Is It Going?

Let’s take REI’s Expert Advice learning library as an example of content marketing of finest quality. These are in-depth articles of about 3000 words on average. They are accompanied by videos, so people who don’t like reading long-form articles can still get their answers.


Through this example, we’re seeing two of the biggest trends combined: long-form content + video gives us long-form video content. That gives us a hint: maybe that will be the foundation of content marketing in 10 years.

Current Trend: Social Media Marketing

Check your Facebook feed again. Do you remember what it was like in the beginnings of Facebook? We were mostly seeing updates by our friends. Now, most of us are seeing more marketing and fewer friends.

People are looking for ways to engage with their favorite brands in between the purchases. They will still be Googling a brand when they plan to buy something. However, the connection will be active in the meantime, too.

Rue La La, an online store, is a nice example of effective social media marketing. On its Instagram account, its marketers repost photos from women wearing the brand’s items. You’ll see original photos, too. This is the brand’s way of showing its fans how cool they are. Rue La La uses the same method to engage its followers on all other social media platforms.


Where Is It Going?

Social media marketing is only going to get bigger, stronger, and bolder. We’ll see cooler features on all platforms, and we’ll see marketers using them in different ways. We’ll keep seeing new social media platforms, too. There’s a bright future ahead, that’s for sure.

Looking Back, Looking Now, Looking Ahead

Constant evolution. Isn’t that the purpose of content marketing? If it wasn’t growing in accordance with the trends and the needs of the audience, we would still be seeing those lousy chain emails.

Looking at the way content marketing evolved makes us wonder if we can predict its future. We can’t be certain about it. In a strange way, that’s part of the excitement of being a content marketer.

Let’s not forget: we don’t just follow; we can create trends, too.


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