Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

Towards a Marketing Content Hub

Last month industry experts met to discuss the state of content management. Janus Boye facilitated CEOs, CTOs, market analysts, and subject matter experts unpack the term content. What we discovered, with the help of Theresa Regli, was the undeniable rise of the marketing content hub.

Content

Content is communication. As an industry, we struggle to communicate effectively at scale across multiple:

  • Audiences
  • Languages
  • Markets
  • Channels
  • Devices
  • Technologies

Traditionally, we view content through two important lenses:

  • Copy as text
  • Assets as images, documents, videos, sound, etc.

In doing so, this gives us to very simple formula for defining what content is:

  • Content = Copy + Assets

About Copy

In the early days of the web, communication was heavy on copy. A web site migration was a lift and shift of company documents onto the web. The resultant was walls of text positioned copy was king.

As we learnt to write more effectively for the web, websites applied the “less is more rule” to copy. Web pages became easier to read. Whitespace was celebrated. The amount of web copy reduced and the use of assets increased.

About Assets

Today, people are engaging more and more with videos, sound and images than ever before.  The use of assets in marketing communicationsis on the rise:

  • YouTube uploads 300 hours of video every minute.
  • Netflix is 15% of the total downstream bandwidth for the entire internet.
  • Instagram has over 100 million post per day.

Copy remains important but so are assets. Assets are a critical part of any customer experience. Great experiences need both copy and assets.

Managing Content

So, what does this mean for the systems responsible for managing content? Technology enables content authors to effectively manage copy and assets. Interestingly, vendors have also divided their technology solutions along similar content lines. A CMS predominantly manages copy where a DAM focuses on the asset part of the content equation.

Content Management Systems

A CMS is better equipped to manage copy than assets. The majority of CMS solutions target the web. A Web CMS (WCMS) creates copy through a web authoring interface and publishes for desktop, tablet and mobile consumption. The popularity of WCMS increased in line with the ubiquitous spread of the web. Although WCMS solutions purport to be channel agnostic, the web remains the channel of choice them.

WCMS capture copy, mix-in assets, and publish web pages. The strategy is clear. Build just enough asset management capability within the WCMS to enable authors to assemble web site content. WCMS vendors chose to integrate with enterprise DAMs, some made strategic partnership, whilst others built their own web-based DAMs. But for WCMS, treatment of content was:

  • Copy First, Assets Second

Digital Asset Management

Assets are fundamentally different from copy. Assets have different properties, life cycles, audiences, and use cases. As a result, a DAM solution does not manage assets in the same way that a WCMS manages copy.

DAM solutions need to track asset usage with rights management software. Approval processes tend to be more rigorous. The storage and streaming of assets are critical and differentiated by asset types (e.g. video vs sound). Assets need to be channel agnostic and accessible across the enterprise so that same video can be re-purposed at a market level.

DAM solutions are purchased by marketing departments that share assets across e-commerce, outbound communications, social channels, point of sale systems, and of course web sites. However, pure play DAMs no longer meet the needs to marketing departments that need more accessible and available assets at scale to create great experiences. A DAM solutions view on content is:

  • Assets first, Copy second

Marketing Content Hub

Useful and usable content is intelligent. This requires both copy and assets to be:

  • Raw; enables content to be produced in one channel and consumer in another.
  • Self-Describing; enables machines to ask content questions and get meaningful answers back.
  • Modular; enables applications to disassemble and re-assemble content on demand

A marketing content hub treats copy and assets as equals. The hub is based upon a content model that is well-structured and meaningful. The content hub enables marketing to gain fast accessible to highly available copy and assets at scale. The marketing content hub sits at the centre of the content universe, co-ordinating and collaborating with traditional systems of record such as DAM, WCMS, PIM, eCommerce, Point of Sal, and ERP.

Marketing Content Hub

Simple?  Not quite.  It never is when there is revenue on the table.

The above shows DAM vendors moving into the marketing content hub space. WCMS vendors are also trying to keep their products relevant. by adding more sophisticated asset management capabilities to their solutions. Drupal’s Content Hub syndicates content between Drupal sites and Sitecore recently acquired Stylelabs into its WCMS offering.

The marketing content hub is a vendor solution for providing content at a service back into the business. It is just one part of the content engine, but an important part none the less.

Block Days for Getting Things Done

I’m always looking for ways to be more productive. Always. With so many things to get done, I’ve been a long time subscriber to the getting things done philosophy. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been toying with a block system to better structure my work day. Last week, I put block days to work.

The Block

A block is a period of time. Blocks come in various sizes. 30-minute blocks. 20-minute blocks. One hour blocks. You decide.

The goal is to break up your work day into blocks.  Then decide what you want to do in each block. That’s it. The theory is simple, but the execution is a little harder.

Block DaysTime for an example. When I get up and decide its a block day, the first I do is grab a sheet of paper and block out the day. At the top, you see it’s Wednesday and my day runs from 7am to 7pm. I tend to use 30-minute blocks giving me 24 blocks in total to play with.

I work at Cognifide. I’ve assigned 10 blocks (5 hours) to Cognifide, a paper I’m writing has 6 blocks (3 hours) and other stuff I need to do in the day makes up the remaining 8 blocks (4 hours). I capture high-level outputs/outcomes for each of these block areas. For example, I want to complete the research section of a paper I’m writing today using the allocated 6 blocks.  When I’m planning the block day, I make I’ll be happy with the outcomes/outputs.  Then the day is around doing the activities in the blocks to hit those goals.

When I first started blocking out my day I got too fine grained. I had lots of block areas on the left, typically 2-4 blocks, but that didn’t work. So I got more coarse-grained in my planning. I introduced the bottom section to illustrate the activities I’d perform within each block area. This worked well. I tend to add and remove actions in this bottom section as I progress through the day. Always use pencils, and have an eraser nearby.

Finally, as you progress through your block day, mark the blocks off. This is so important. You are rewarding the progress you’re making. Marking off blocks is a great feeling and pushes you towards the end.

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Becoming reMarkable

reMarkableI got myself a reMarkable for Christmas. With a £479 price tag, it wasn’t cheap.  A reMarkable is a paper tablet for people that like paper. I use it to read articles, annotate presentations, capture notes, review books, and most importantly sketch down ideas. Now I’ve had iPads in the past. Microsoft Surfaces.  Tablets running Evernote. And many others. But my reMarkable is just different. Even though the others have better functionality, support for more formats, and generally more widely used, they are not reMarkable. Let me tell you why I’m becoming reMarkable.

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Own Your Owned Media

Owned Media Media TypesSucceeding online used to be about launching web sites. Dot com and done! Fast forward twenty years and web sites are just one of many touch points competing for consumer attention.  In addition to web sites, newsletters, catalogs, blogs, kiosks are also important assets within a brand’s overall owned media portfolio.  Why owned?  Because owned media assets are things directly controlled by the brand.  Nobody else.  However, owned media remains unclear and misunderstood by many. That’s not surprising given the messy, complex and overlapping relationship owned media has with other types of media,  namely paid and earned. But what is becoming increasingly clear is the need to own your owned media to succeed online today. Let’s get a little deeper into this.

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WPP Sitecore Alliance

Last week was big week.  It had nothing to do with hitting Vegas and everything to do with activating the WPP Sitecore Alliance.  What is that?

wpp sitecore alliance logowpp sitecore alliance logo

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Going Frictionless

I recently visited Six Flags in Illinois – a massive and totally awesome theme park. The purchase journey presented a number of options to buy the tickets: Mobile, Print, Collect and Post. Everyone one of them was a pain in the ass option with the exception of mobile. Who prints stuff when they’re on holiday? How many foreign travellers have a US address? Who wants to wait in line to collect tickets? However, I do have a mobile. To me, that was the only relevant option. Going frictionless means making it easy for me, the consumer, to engage with your business. What I’m seeing in the market is large scale failure in going frictionless by the majority and insane levels of success by those that are getting it right. And the gap between leaders and laggards is growing.

Going Frictionless: The Story

We are all consumers. You absolutely must create product and services that are simple, accessible and work to deliver frictionless consumer experiences. It’s the new norm.  Consumers expect companies to have their house in order.  Going frictionless is today’s brand challenge.

Know that there are two important audiences going frictionless needs to cater for:

  • The consumer; we must deliver seamless and consistent engagement across all touch points in the journey.
  • The enterprise; we must design systemic and sustainable business processes that craft consumer journeys from frictionless experiences at every touchpoint.

You need both. There is no point striving for frictionless consumer experiences if the enterprise cannot support them in a sustainable way at scale. Equally, the enterprise needs to craft connected experiences that consumers feel are frictionless. These two audiences are two sides of the same going frictionless coin where one informs and is informed by the other.

Going frictionless coin

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Brand Purpose and Loyalty

A brand must have clear purpose and live by it in order to retain loyal customers. Brand purpose and loyalty.  Today I’d like to share a short story about how easy it is to shatter loyalty when a brand’s behaviour does not live up to publicised purpose.  It’s a story about a lost bag, that led to lost loyalty because of the brand’s lost purpose.

Why is this important? Because in 10 years, it’s predicted that 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist as things that were once scarce become abundant.   Technology, data and infrastructure are no longer scarce.  They are accessible to the masses.  Tomorrows winners are those that can differentiate on providing customer experiences to live the up to the brand purpose. All day, everyday. Here’s how not to do it.

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Content Engine Operationalisation

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Content Engine

Well, thank you for sticking around for the third and final post in the series where we share a few tips on content engine operationalisation.

 

The first post in this content engine series highlighted the top ten content challenges faced by organisations looking to deliver scaleable personalised experiences. We followed up with a second post that outlined a content engine blueprint to address those challenges. We conclude the series with a few practical tips to operationalise your own content engine.

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Content Engine Blueprint

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Content Engine

If we can address the content challenges that exist within brands, what opportunities can organisations capitalise on now to deliver personalised experiences?  We asked that question to a mix of agencies, brands and partners that attended a WPP European Summit back in June 2015.  Here’s what our summit delegates prioritised as the three key areas for serious consideration by the business. In this post, we’ve  pulled them together into a draft content engine blueprint:

  • Show tangible business value and success.  Understanding what content exists within the enterprise.  Continually show its value, impact, and return back into the business. What if they was a workable content performance framework that continuously linked and tracked the investment case for content as a practical and pragmatic set of KPIs and objectives that quantified success? Imagine that.
  • Manage content as a product.  Move beyond episodic campaigns and projects.  Focus on assembling brand communications, using blocks of reusable content that’s accessible across the enterprise.  What if content architecture applied end-to-end product management principles to the design of strategic content, from ideation to expiration, based upon transparent and agreed investment cases? Imagine that.
  • Content lifecycle management.  There needs to be clear separation between content products and the services people use to operate them.  What if the content operating model surfaced the processes and overarching governance framework for getting content into and out of the enterprise to drive real-time personalised experiences? Imagine that.

Forrester predicts that the volume of unstructured enterprise content is growing at a rate of 200% annually.  Content is communication.  How well it is designed, managed and measured directly impacts on our ability to engage effectively with customers.  The content engine looks to address our content challenges and turn them into opportunities by consciously stepping up to manage content as an enterprise-level strategic asset that drives competitive advantage.

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Content Engine Explained

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Content Engine

What content challenges prevent you from engaging in broader and deeper customer relationships?  Broader with more channels and deeper through personalisation.  It’s 2017 and we continue to fight the good fight to deliver the most basic personalised experiences within a responsive web channel.  Why is that?

Because it’s hard. It’s not easy to create, manage and deliver content in a predictable, repeatable and scalable manner.  However, that’s precisely what we have to do for omni-channel personalised experiences.  So what if we designed a content engine to do just that? What might that look like?  In this three-part blog post series we explore just that.  Starting with the challenges in this post, we move onto a blueprint for a content engine and before operationalising it in the final post.

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About Cleve Gibbon



I'm Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide where we are passionate about digital content.

My sort of up-to-date cv tells you my past, linked in shows you my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently doing.

This year I plan attend a number of events. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'm easy to find as I'm always laughing. Find out more about me and get in touch!
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