Meaning of content marketing has become ‘murky’, says CMA chairman

The Content Marketing Association (CMA) says not all content falls under content marketing and that the definition has become “murky” because too many agencies are trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Audi has used content marketing to promote brand loyalty
Audi has used content marketing to promote brand loyalty

Speaking to Marketing Week, CMA chairman Andrew Hirsch says content marketing has been part of the marketing mix for the last 20 years but what has changed is that “there isn’t an agency out there that isn’t saying they can create content” for brands.

“Whether above-the-line, PR or traditional content, everybody is saying ‘we are content creators’. There is a lack of honesty with a number of agencies not traditionally in the content marketing space saying they can create content when they can’t. The absolute definition is being made murky because no one wants to admit they are not in the content marketing space,” he adds.

He believes brands should be able to spot a dedicated content agency, rather than an agency trying to play in content, by its strength in editorial.

“The big difference is have you got a roster of amazing writers and talented editors on your staff or are you the words you’re creating brought in by freelancers? That is a pretty black and white divide,” he says.

“The problem is that because the word content is very hot right now everyone is saying everything is content and it just isn’t. To me content is the written word, great photography, content that one can absorb, unlike a TV commercial. I love TV commercials, but they’re advertising.”

Hirsch has agreed to stay on as the CMA’s chairman through 2015 after his appointment earlier this year and says one of its main jobs will be to more clearly define what content marketing is. The CMA still gets brands coming on almost a daily basis to get advice on which agencies to use, how to write a brief and budgeting.

This is why the CMA’s membership is shifting, said Hirsch, from being typically agencies that had worked in print publishing to agencies that cover above-the-line, SEO, media buying and PR. The CMA also recently opened its membership to brands, most of which are only just beginning to realise the strength of a site enhanced by content, says Hirsch.

For brands that get content marketing right the reward is greater trust, says Hirsch, while those that get it wrong and create dull content that doesn’t engage risk losing sales and market share.

“Trust is the number one thing we achieve. An individual is much more likely to buy from a brand if the dialogue is ongoing and trustworthy,” he adds.



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