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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

The Evolution of Marketing Departments

November 13, 2014 | By Michael Rowland, Strategic Safecracker

It took several generations for the telegraph operator to morph into the IT manager. Similar role, different skill set (Morse code just isn’t as in demand these days).

But in the last few years the pace of innovation has accelerated, completely changing how we use–and therefore how we staff–communications media. New media channels have proliferated so thick and fast that it’s happened without the corresponding phasing out of the old. We live in a continually expanding universe of digital and print, terrestrial radio and live stream, texting and email, TV and YouTube.

It’s not one or the other. Our consumption of all media keeps going up, as measured in a USC Marshall School of Business report. In 2008, Americans talked, viewed and listened to media, excluding the workplace, an average of 11 hours per person per day. By 2012, consumption had grown another 5% to 13.6 hours per person per day. By 2015, it is projected Americans will consume media for an average 15.5 hours per person per day, again not counting workplace time!

“One can actually have more than 24 hours in a media day,” explains the report, referring to the growth of simultaneous media streaming and multi-tasking. The non-stop nature of our media spigot is all around us – how many pedestrians did you see so far today staring at their iPhones while crossing the street?

The result has upended the hierarchy of communications channels. Emails (unread about 80% of the time) have become the new junk mail, while Direct Mail is now less cluttered and more effective. People are getting more of their news from Facebook, while also tuning into the local TV news. We’re watching and reading more regardless of media.

All those extra hours of media we’re consuming have spurred an enormous appetite for “content.” In large companies, the role of marketing has been shifting from pushing out ephemeral messages to generating content in more lasting formats to fill space on the internet – blogs, videos, native advertising features, online polls, etc.

The effects have drastically shifted how marketing departments are staffed. Every day there are thousands more “content management” positions to fill. Not too long ago, nobody went to school to get a degree in “creating content” (although I do recall something about poetry, painting, journalism and film-making). Now a Google search for “college degree in content creation” gets 5.1 million results.

Organizations of all sorts are jumping in to the business of content creation. The vast majority of B2B marketers – 92% – are engaged in some kind of content marketing, and the output keeps rising, with 70% producing more content this year than last. But most are unclear what it adds up to, as only 21% are successful at measuring ROI from their efforts.  We’re only half-way there.

This points to a common skills gap in marketing departments. Jason DeMers in Forbes Magazine has predicted it won’t be long before the top job in marketing will be Director of Content. Exactly how long that takes will depend on how intelligently organizations measure the impact of their content marketing efforts today.

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