Emerging Content Marketing Tool Stacks Will Emulate, Link To Paid Ad Stacks

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rebecca liebResearch from Altimeter Group released Tuesday predicted that content marketing tools will begin to consolidate and eventually merge with marketing tech solutions.

"The major vendors—Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle—they're all talking about their marketing clouds. What is that? It is an amalgam of the tools they're compiling that cover everything involved with ads,  creative, targeting, serving and analytics and optimization," said Rebecca Lieb, analyst with Altimeter and author of the firm's comprehensive content marketing report out today. "Correspondingly, we're seeing this happen with content and the reason we're seeing it happen with content is that there's a growing understanding that content is the atomic particle of all marketing."

The report involved researching 100 different content marketing tool vendors for the report, as well as interviewing content marketing executives.

Despite the importance of brand-created and curated content, the vendor landscape is highly fragmented. Altimeter identified separate tools to support creation, curation and aggregation, optimization, analytics, audience and targeting, distribution, workflow, legal and compliance. Currently there's considerable overlap between the categories and many organizations today are buying the same functionalities over and over again as a result.

In part, this might be because brands themselves often don’t know what they need, as many lack any direction whatsoever around their content. Altimeter found that 70% of organizations have no content marketing strategy and that there's a big disconnect between what they're spending money on and what they claim they need to succeed with content marketing. At the moment brands spend the bulk of their budget on content creation, but what they say they really need is more strategic capability.

"Things like audience targeting and analytics are their top two most cited needs," Lieb said, explaining that organizations will start to mature by 2015 and start aligning their spending with their needs.

Vendors will be increasingly ready for that, she says, noting providers of large marketing clouds have invested in content-related areas. Nevertheless, she explained that as a closer alliance between content tools and ad tools grows, the market will be Adobe's to lose. Adobe is already ahead of the pack with the content management application Experience Manager it has as part of its Marketing Cloud. Experience Manager was built from the CQ product Adobe inherited when it acquired Day Software in 2010.

Moreover, Adobe is in the process of aligning Marketing Cloud with its Creative Cloud – the creative suite that includes content production tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.

"This integration is going to take time,” Lieb said.

So far, Adobe has enabled sharing between the two clouds. “We have opportunities to integrate someone who’s in  a creative workflow and wants to share something with somebody in a marketing workflow,” said Chris Wareham, Adobe’s senior director of product. “We’re looking to extend that – telling when certain types of creative work is ready for different types of audiences, building analytics around that.”

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