Is Content Discoverability the Holy Grail of Marketing?

by · March 8, 201315 comments

It seems like lately everyone is talking about content discovery. Whether it’s Facebook’s Dan Rose asserting “Content discovery always has been and always will be social” or Rachel Foster from Content Marketing Institute providing a rundown of content discovery tools and tactics, it certainly seems to be a hot topic among marketers in 2013.

But what is content discovery, and where does it fit in your content strategy? Let’s take a look at the different ideas that are being bundled into the “content discovery” buzzword.

Content discovery is yet a new term, and yet another technological spin, on a very old marketing concept: word of mouth. Increasingly, it’s happening in two ways: organically through the activity of your human connections on social networks, and algorithmically through recommendation engines.

Content Discovery and the Entertainment Industry

Content discovery tools capitalize on the inherent social element of entertainment

In the world of Big Content (previously known as “the entertainment industry”), content discovery means “how do people find out about your media property?”

Think about how you found out about your current favorite TV show. If your answer is “I kept seeing people talking about it online,” you’ve tapped into organic content discovery.

When movies and television shows consistently trend on Twitter or clog Facebook news feeds with running commentary, that’s organic content discovery at work. In the music industry, it might mean hashtags during concerts to spark a local Twitter trend, or Spotify as a means of frictionless sharing of new artists.

A new spin on this is Simul TV, a software that allows you to watch television shows with your friends together, in different locations. In addition to seeing the main content, you also see screencasts of your fellow viewer’s faces, so you can see their reaction to the latest “I can’t believe she did that” moment on The Bachelor.

Content discovery tools capitalize on the inherent social element of entertainment, moving the watercooler into realtime and onto your phone or laptop screen.

Automating Content Discovery

In the world of eCommerce and print media, content discovery often refers to recommendation engines. These kinds of content discovery tools algorithmically create content suggestions, blending behavioral targeting with cues pulled from your social activity and what your social connections click and consume. In other words, it amplifies the organic word of mouth from your social connections and takes hints from your own expressed preferences to help you find stuff you’ll like, whether you’re actively looking for it or not.

If you’ve found articles suggested for you by Zemanta on a blog, or seen what newspaper articles your friends have been reading in your Facebook feed, that’s algorithmic content discovery.

For retail and ecommerce companies, the holy grail of marketing is getting the right offer in front of the right person during the in-between times. Right now, everyone is looking for St. Patrick’s Day products. Last month it was Valentine’s Day. But what about the products that don’t have a fixed calendar moment? Up till now, retailers have depended on “spray and pray” ad buys. The promise suggested by content discovery is the ability to target customers during those in-between times with products they’re predisposed towards, making their marketing much more efficient.

Promises, Promises… Can Content Discovery Deliver?

Of course, content discovery and recommendation engines aren’t the first technology to offer that promise—and most of them have fallen disappointingly short. Marketers are understandably skeptical whenever a new tool offers to revolutionize the efficiency of their marketing spend. It still remains to be seen whether content discovery can finally deliver on the age-old marketing promise of “the right offer to the right person at the right time.”

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About Kat French

Kat French

Kat French is the Digital Operations Manager at CafePress. An exceptional writer both on the web and in other genres, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in community management, SEO/PPC, social media strategy and program management. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, Optima Batteries and more.

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