Revolution. That's the term Brian Alvey, the man who built the software underlying three generations of digital publishers, uses to describe the current buzz around brand publishing. Advertisers don't want just to make ads that run alongside other people's content anymore. A growing number of them want to be publishers themselves.
"The revolution occurred," Alvey says, "[because] the audience is now in charge."
In fact, brands have been publishers for almost as long as publishers have been publishers. Tractor maker John Deere—not the first name that comes to mind when you think of the brand publishing revolution—has put out a corporate magazine called The Furrow since 1895.
It was in the late aughts when companies such as Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble embraced the Internet-age refrain that "we're all publishers now." Before long, these companies had transformed their websites into venues for original narrative storytelling, photography and video series. Almost overnight the press release and 30-second TV spot became passé.
Today the chorus is more frenzied than ever. Thanks to social media's massive influence, "publish or perish" is no longer just the dreaded axiom of untenured academics. Brands and their agencies believe deeply that content is the future, and anyone who doesn't get onboard will be left behind.
If that sounds dramatic, let the numbers speak for themselves: Red Bull's magazine reaches two million people a month; American Express attracts millions of small business owners to its stories on OpenForum.com; Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" video garnered more than 114 million views in its first first month and eventually became the most viewed "ad" of all-time.
In response, creative and PR agencies are adding "content marketing" to their lists of offerings and hiring the magazine world's best editors to run publications for their clients. Brands building in-house newsrooms are doing the same.
In Contently's new report, "State of Content Marketing 2014," we examine which companies, vendors and voices are driving the brand storytelling movement, and we analyze the four key trends that will decide the future of advertising. Check it out here: