What does 2016 hold for content marketing in Asia?

It’s definitely been an exciting year for content marketing in Asia in 2015. As an Association focused on it in the region, we have seen a massive transition in B2C, with B2B now getting more serious about content marketing and moving from the “pilot stage” into serious content marketing campaigns.

We see 2015 as the year we spent a lot of time speaking with brands talking about the why of content marketing. Any “new” idea takes time to germinate, and going through the period of explaining the why has been critical to help marketing professionals position content marketing within the context of their own business.

As such, we believe that 2016 will be all about the “how-to” of content marketing, so it really is an industry on the cusp of exploding in Asia.

However, all of the ACMA board members come at content marketing from slightly different perspectives, so we decided to ask them and our special guest, Edward Bray of LinkedIn, what their predictions are for 2016.

Here’s what they said:

Edward Bray, head of marketing, APAC, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

"Content marketing will no longer be the sole responsibility of the marketing team. The rise of social selling means that content creation needs to be a collaborative effort between marketing and sales. Organisations that embrace this concept will extend the reach of their content through sales channels and are more likely to achieve sales and marketing alignment."

Melissa de Villiers, senior writer & editor, Editor Group

As content marketing starts to gain more traction, we’ll be seeing more companies in Asia create ‘internal newsrooms’ to produce the necessary volume of quality content to keep their online channels fresh and relevant. Overworked marketing managers, meanwhile, will increasingly be turning to staff to act as de facto ‘reporters,’ brushing up their writing skills and coming up with story ideas to feed the content pipeline. At the same time, organisations will be putting the basic plumbing in place to execute their content marketing strategies, creating brand language and tone of voice guides, story guidelines, formulas for blog posts and the like.

Henry Adams, founding partner, Contented

A couple of years in the future, chances are you’ll be watching this article, not reading it. And as it continues its relentless rise, it’s clear that online video is the future of content marketing - indeed, Cisco predict that by 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. In turn, this will necessitate massively improved data compression. Get that bit right and video won't just be the future of content marketing, it'll be the future of content marketing for every business.

Don Anderson, regional managing director, We Are Social

Traditional marketers beware: your comfort zone is about to be severely disrupted. We’ll see increased pressure on traditional marketing across all forms, particularly online, spurred on by the adoption of ad blockers and consumers’ general frustration with interruptive messaging. While platforms, publishers and media buyers and sellers will do whatever they can to deter this — to the likely expense of the user experience and their own reputations — the more sophisticated brands will focus on driving real conversations and awareness with audiences.

That will translate to 25-35% of marketing budgets being allocated to some form of content marketing investment in 2016, be it thought leadership content and short-form videos on Instagram with a conversion metric attached, to in-sourcing more content practitioners and asset management tools. It’s going to be a year of deciding which side you’re on if you’re a brand marketer, and if it isn’t the consumers’ side you’ll be called out.

Timi Siytangco, director, brands & agencies, Outbrain Southeast Asia

Clickbait will continue to die a slow, painful death. Not slow enough for our taste!

Simon Kearney, CEO and editor-in-chief, Click2View

Content marketing will go mainstream with a vast expansion in the number of clients with dedicated content budgets and a serious examination by business leaders of the potential for content to help them achieve their goals.

Editorial calendars will become a standard fixture in every marketing or comms-related department to strategise content creation and timely and effective distribution.

Video will continue to grow as a way for brands to communicate with their audiences based on in-feed distribution methods and Google's increasing need for YouTube to generate more revenue growth. There will be more and more very short videos (15 seconds, 6 seconds) in the attraction phase of the buying cycle - Vine may finally come of age. For every long-form film, clients will demand lots of episodic short-form content to be distributed on social networks to attract interest.

Andrea Edwards, head of content marketing and training, Novus Asia

Brands that really get content marketing, will understand two very vital things in 2016 and this understanding will help them rise above the competition.

First - content marketing is not something the marketing team just does. Sure the marketing team will own the content assets and run the campaigns to drive customers to these sites, but for content marketing to succeed within a business, the entire organisation must adopt it. Content marketing is both tactical and strategic, but it also requires a complete cultural change within business, where you move from talking about me, to creating and curating valuable information that improves customers’ lives. It is the essence of being a truly customer obsessed organisation.

Second - content marketing cannot succeed without C-suite buy-in. This is even more critical in Asia where hierarchy continues to have a massive impact on the culture of how business is done. The most senior people in an organisation must not only understand what content marketing is, they must also embrace it and lead from the top. The challenge is that many leaders today are used to carefully controlled PR walls, and they need to let these walls down and start having open and honest conversations with their customers and broader communities. They also need to trust their employees, the reason customers do business with you. This is enormously challenging for leaders in Asia, but it is a change that must happen to be successful.

The businesses that don’t get these two points will become frustrated and believe that content marketing is just more hype. It is not hype. Building trusted and valued relationships with customers is what content marketing is all about. It’s a change in mind-set and embracing it fully will see enormous benefits for businesses. But you must be patient too. It’s not an overnight success story.

Lauren Hendry Parsons, account director, AKA Asia

Content marketing will become the primary driver and engine for engagement with brand audiences - but only if brands can find areas to play where they can authentically engage and add value to their communities.

Nick Fawbert, managing director, Asia, Brand New Media

With traditional marketing agencies struggling to hit the rights notes in content marketing, South East Asia will see major international brands appointing 100 content marketing agencies of record before the end of 2016.

Major brands are expressing frustration with the approach, ideation and fee structures needed to deliver major 'always-on' campaigns being offered by their traditional partners. The requirement to produce scalable ideas that translate across hero, hub and hygiene creative briefs through video, audio, text and graphics is putting established players under pressure. It's unlikely that they will be able to restructure internal resources or build new operational structures fast enough to meet consumer demand.

Experienced, dedicated, existing content marketing companies that have, to this point, played peripheral roles, will scale to fill the gap and will be welcomed at the top table. Senior marketers are no longer looking for award winning one hit wonders, but are looking for campaigns that deliver consumer experiences across multiple platforms and track the customer journey from awareness generation, through preference to transactions and loyalty at an affordable price point.

Conclusion

As a collective, the board members of ACMA come at content marketing from slightly different perspectives, but the unifying message is that content marketing is about creating conversations of value with customers and other critical audiences. This year has definitely been one of massive learnings for businesses in Asia and we’re looking forward to working with innovative businesses in 2016 who are ready to skyrocket into the new world of content marketing.

 This article was contributed by the ACMA board.